She claims sequins, gold foil, and glitter as her favorite colors. She’s walked in fashion shows and she’s been in magazines. Sharita Napper stands out not just for the way her big smile and bright outfits light up a room, but for what she brings to the space.
As a child, not only was she one of the few Black kids in class, but also often one of the tallest and curviest. Today, standing out is a positive characteristic that’s helped the wife and mother find success as a serial entrepreneur. Being so obviously different wasn’t always a comfortable feeling.
“It was really hard to find my place,” Sharita said. “Once I got older, I got into fashion, and I took being an anomaly and made that my power.”
Sharita created her own space, starting a fashion blog and putting Alaska on the map as a city with style. She’s been to New York Fashion Week, walked in shows and has been in magazines. Even though her physical appearance made her unique, people were often just as fascinated that she came from Alaska.
“I would be in a room full of people from all over the world and everybody would stop and talk to me,” Sharita said. “It’s a conversation starter every single time.”
Being from Alaska is more than just a fun fact, though. Sharita’s Alaska roots run deep. Her great-grandmother was a founding member of the first Black church in Anchorage. Her great-uncles were the first two Black students to integrate the Anchorage School District.
Sharita now owns My Little Napper, a brand dedicated to making bedtime an intentional time and recently authored and illustrated her first children’s book, “My Hair Care Plan.” She and her husband own a junk removal business called Heavy Lifter Hauling, and she is also the chief operating officer of Baby Vend, a vending machine company specializing in accessible care products for children and parents. But her greatest privilege, she said, is her job as a mom.
“It’s very healing for my own inner child because I did experience a lot of traumatic situations at a very young age,” Sharita said. “Now that my kids are getting older, I get to see what it looks like to be in a healthy environment.”
As a kid, Sharita and her mother briefly lived at AWAIC, an Anchorage shelter for domestic violence survivors. Sharita is a supporter of AWAIC today. And now, that she’s a mother to three young girls, Sharita said she’s inspired by her younger self and tries to be what that little girl needed growing up. She wants them to know, although they may stand out, they don’t stand alone.
“Being able to give back as an adult, I want to show my children you come from a wide history of life and to always honor your roots,” Sharita said. “Honor the people that have poured into you, honor the communities and organizations that have poured into you.”
It’s that same community, and those same organizations, that same legacy, that Sharita hopes will help move the next generation of Black Alaskans forward.
“It’s so important that we come together and share our stories and share our recipes and share our history,” she said. “Because we are here, and we have to stick together.”