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Meet That Girl Tessa Cruz (Co-Owner of DSTNCT Art Media)

Meet Tessa Cruz, the creative force behind DSTNCT Art Media, where fashion, photography, and passion collide. Alongside her husband Dennis, she’s shaping a unique experience for clients seeking to capture their essence through the lens. But Tessa’s journey into the world of styling, model coaching, and photography wasn’t conventional. From a background in biochemistry to soaring through the skies as an indoor skydiving instructor, her path to becoming a fashion expert was as diverse as it was unexpected. Now, she’s sharing her story and the ethos that drives DSTNCT Art Media’s mission to provide not just stunning visuals but unforgettable experiences.

Can you tell us about your background in the fashion industry and what inspired you to pursue a career as a stylist, fashion expert, model coach, and photographer?

Tessa: I come from a different background so it was kind of by chance that I got started as a stylist and model coach. I grew up always admiring the pages of Vogue, I even had a collage in my closet of all the editorials. But I was always pushed to get a science degree. My love for fashion would always come out. In my econ class I remember doing an entire project on Dolce and Gabbana so I feel like the passion was always there. After getting my B.S. in biochemistry, I decided I was going to leave the research world and got a job as an indoor skydiving instructor. When I met and married Dennis, he re-introduced me to this world of modeling and fashion and it felt so natural to me to embrace this new world. I started going with him on our shoot and realized where there was a place for improvement. So I started helping with styling, bringing items, and even making items for some of our photoshoots. Coaching models felt natural to me. The past five years of my life, I coached people how to overcome their fears and fly, so when I realized some of our clients needed guidance, that just seemed very obvious to me to step into that role.

Could you share with us the range of services offered by DSTNCT Art Media? How do you tailor your services to meet the unique needs of your clients?

Tessa: At DSTNCT, we offer a complete package. We offer styling, model coaching, obviously photography, and also videography. We meet with our clients multiple times before our photoshoot. After the first call, we have a follow up call where we discuss the goals of the photoshoot and also talk about styling and a shot list. This is when I can gather a clear idea of what the client actually wants. I think even when people say they don’t have something in mind, they do and it is our job to make sure we understand their expectations so we can not only meet them, but exceed them. I also really enjoy teaching and coaching our clients so I will schedule a time to meet with them and discuss how to pose in front of the camera. Even if we are working with experienced models, I love pushing them to be more creative and maybe pose in a way they have never tried before. I understand that each client is unique and try to spend time with them and bring out those qualities that make them who they are.

What is the mission or ethos behind DSTNCT Art Media, and how does it guide the work you do?

Tessa: Our mission is to provide a unique experience to all of our clients. We believe our passion for what we do really comes through in our work and the experience we provide. We believe that people are not booking with us merely because of our stunning images, but because we offer an experience they will not soon forget. We sell an experience and provide a way for people to freeze that moment in time and remember it forever.

As co-owner of DSTNCT Art Media, you work alongside your husband. What is it like collaborating with your partner in both business and creative endeavors?

Tessa: Working with your husband definitely provides its challenges in and of itself! As I tell my husband, the closest gets the mostest, so we perhaps argue a bit more than if I were in a partnership with someone else. But the fact that I can create a business from the ground up with someone I love is priceless and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. We get to constantly bounce ideas off each other and in our free time we shoot and create new ideas. People ask us what we do for fun and we look at each other and respond, “we work for fun.” So we really do breathe life into this business day in and day out. It comes from our souls and that is what makes it special.

What aspects of your work do you find most fulfilling or enjoyable? Is there a particular part of the creative process that you love the most?

Tessa: I personally find the face to face interactions with our clients most enjoyable. I really find fulfillment in serving others and gain so much personal joy when I see another person happy. More often than not, people come into a photoshoot rather nervous or with some insecurities. If I can help them relax, laugh, and have a good time, that gives me purpose.

Looking ahead, what are you most excited about for the rest of the year in terms of projects, collaborations, or new ventures for DSTNCT Art Media?

Tessa: I get super excited thinking about our future. Right now, I am still working five days a week at a restaurant, but I keep manifesting a day when I can focus full time on our business. Dennis works harder than anyone I’ve ever known, up until all hours of the night grinding away at our business. Just in the past few months we have had new opportunities for us. We joined the Chamber of Commerce, partnered with a local magazine, built a relationship with a local modeling agency, and developed many relationships within the community. Everyone tells us to find a niche and focus on that, but right now we are still finding our way and where we belong. We pursue every possible opportunity with passion, even if we’ve had some disappointments in the past. The world is full of possibilities and we will thrive!

Connect online:

Instagram: @dstnctartmedia



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