Putting family first was her best career move

0C482E3B-E861-4123-8543-47A009ADC6D7Faced with expensive rent in Sydney, a travelling stunt-man husband and a fresh 4 month old baby, Tess left her safe full-time job to put her family first, and it was the best career decision she ever made. This graphic designer proves how lovingly embracing scary changes ultimately results in success.

What did you study and where?

The Karl Von Busse institute of design, Ulladulla, South Coast, Australia

What was your dream job as a kid?

To be a choreographer and own a dance school.

Where did you end up?

After grade 12 my best friend and I opened a Dance Academy. It ran at full speed for 7 years, seeing itself with 400 students. I met prince charming in my 6th year of running the Academy and traded my hip hop shoes for a Mac Book Pro and studied at the massive multi-million dollar design school that just to happened to open up across the road from our dance studio.

Post graduation I landed a job in an Fashion PR agency doing their in house design and then ended up at a boutique design agency. Then I becme lead designer in the creative department at C3 Church, Oxford falls.

Where are you at now?

It’s a Tuesday night, 9:39pm, I’m in the dining room which I have taken up residence as my studio for the night – I’m tinkering away after signing off on a few design jobs and in front of me there is a glass of wine, a cup of coffee and a bottle of water – all consumed in that order, importantly, Justin Bieber is on the repeat (no shame).

How was the leap from full-time to freelance?

It was a little crazy, but one thing I always say is – “There is never a good time to go freelance” – there will always be some circumstantial reason as to why you shouldn’t and why the time is not right. At the time of my freelance leap I had a fresh 4 month old baby, expensive rent in Sydney, a traveling stunt man of a husband – definitely not the ideal time – But I’m now living the creative dream I always hoped for, the work is flowing, the beach sees me often and I choose how my days look.

 What scared you the most?

Financial security was a major concern along with doubting work flow – I wondered if work would actually come?

Best moment as a freelancer?

The fact that I start EVERY day at the beach with a coffee in my hand, a swim and have time with my little girl Peaches. I don’t start any work until 11am everyday and usually clock off by 4-5pm. I love that I choose my timetable, my time-lines and my deadlines. Its liberating and everyday is different!

Favorite freelancing tool?

The Adobe Creative suite, Everything I need to do what I do is in those 4 pretty little icon boxes (Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator and Bridge)

 Favourite music to work to?

Ok, there is seriously something about the mellow voice of John Mayer when it comes to design. I feel his voice is on the balanced middle scale between highly irritable music and music that makes you fall asleep. It’s very neutral, soul soothing and for some reason helps me produce my best work! Otherwise I default to RNB.

Most productive work environment?

Definitely a room full of good vibes – whether it be a cafe or in my home at night when the house is asleep. There must be coffee involved and tunes, always tunes.

Best piece of advice you’ve received?

 “Be kind, because you never know if someone is living in their darkest hour”. These words have honestly shaped so much of the way I deal and respond to people, life and the way I run my business. I myself have had some of those dark hours , and have been greeted by others with such grace and love in these times! What that love has done for me in that time has been life changing.

Best piece of advice you’ve learned?

Have a morning ritual! The way you start your day is so important – it really is the catalyst to where your day will end up. Like I said earlier – I start my day at the beach – some coffee, some play and some prayer. My productivity flows from these small and simple things.

Business books you recommend?

Living With A Creative Mind By Jeff Crabtree. A great book that helps you understand your creative quirks and how to channel them productively. Helps tackle the notorious downfalls of most creative personality types so that we can truly embrace the things that don’t come so easy to us i.e. running the back end of a business.

What / Who inspires you?

I’m basically insspired by anyone who is living there creative dream! I have friends that are writers, film makers, videographers, photographers, furniture makers, stylists and fashion gurus. Such a high calibre of creative personality types in my circle! I’m daily challenged and encouraged by each of them. I’m also married to a stunt man. My husband is one of my biggest inspirations – he chased his dream and is actually doing it!!!!

Top 3 IG accounts to follow? 

@_bonniegray A blast into a vibrant world of paint, patterns, quirky words and tropical vibes
@harrisondunwell Crispy photography and curious written words, an up and coming account – Instagram needs to feature this dude asap!
@thewolfpackmrs Honest interviews with inspiring entrepreneur mums!


i @tessguinery @tessguinerydesign @_thegraygirls
e tessguinery(at)gmail.com
w  tessguinery.co  thegraygirls.com