Today we’d like to introduce you to Tess Henderson.
Hi Tess, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I was introduced to interior design at an early age thanks to my mom. She isn’t a professional designer, but to this day she is the most creative person I know. She sewed drapes, installed wallpaper… There’s really nothing she can’t do. I noticed that our house looked different than all of my friends’ houses. Not because it was bigger or we had fancier things, but because my mom wasn’t afraid to ignore trends and do her own thing. Our house was full of color and patterns and personality. It told a story. Needless to say, she fostered my creative side. As I got older and started thinking about what I wanted to do for a living, I realized that interior design checked all of my boxes. I would get to work with people, create, and be my own boss (which I knew early on was important to me).
Next thing you know, I was graduating with my BFA for Interior Design from Iowa State and on my way to work for an architecture firm in Los Angeles. I started out in commercial design then transitioned to something a bit sexier (hospitality) which brought me to San Francisco. I absolutely loved it, but eventually, I wanted to try my hand at residential. It felt right immediately. I am a total extrovert and people light me up. Residential design is extremely personal and I found that connection to each project very inspiring.
Fast forward a few years and a few design firms and it’s the spring of 2020. I’ve been back in Los Angeles for a total of six months and got laid off from what I thought was my dream job. For some reason, I thought it was the perfect time to pursue my dream of starting my own studio. I guess the timing was right after all because two years later the team has grown to seven people and we have projects from Los Angeles to New York.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Ha! No, it has not. I started the studio without any clients. We were also in quarantine, so I didn’t know how to go out and meet clients. I channeled all of my energy into redesigning my website on Squarespace a million times just to keep myself busy and joining random Facebook groups where I stayed up until 3 am commenting on people’s posts about their interior design questions. I relentlessly tapped my friends to spread the word (bless them for doing it regardless of how annoying I was). When I finally did get clients, I charged hardly anything and extended all of my trade discounts to them, so I barely made enough money to pay my rent. I even said yes to a job and worked for a whole nine months without getting paid, despite the clients singing my praises. When I finally decided to move on from that project, they took all of my intellectual property and I never got a cent. There were definitely some sketchy situations, but I never dwelled. I just kept charging forward onto the next thing.
Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Tess Interiors is a full-service Interior Design studio, focusing on high-end residential and boutique commercial spaces. Our aesthetic is influenced by nature, fashion, art, and above all else, people. We believe that Interior Designers are storytellers. We learn the depths of your personality and translate it into something that can be seen, smelled, touched. We aim to invigorate all five senses through the juxtaposition of contrasting, tactile materials and thoughtfully curated pieces.
Our mission is to tell your story within your walls. We are focused on creating meaningful experiences within spaces that bring people together and exhibit their individuality. That is why our process begins the same way for every project: we start with you. Who you are is the foundation for our design. It’s not about showcasing our signature style. It’s about understanding your way of living and elevating the spirit of your surroundings.
We all have a different way of looking at and defining success. How do you define success?
That’s tough – success feels like a moving target. Things have grown so rapidly and I just want to keep pushing and see what happens. Interior Design is a huge world and having a studio is just a small part of it. You can design your own furniture or lighting line, curate your favorite items and sell them in a store, and define an entire hotel chain’s aesthetic… The sky is the limit!
I just know that I never want to feel totally comfortable with what I’m doing. I love knowing that I don’t know something and throwing myself in to learn all about it. I suppose success means I’m continuously crossing things off my professional bucket list, diving straight into the next thing, and never being afraid to do so.
- Website: tessinteriors.com
- Instagram: @tessinteriors