The Online News Magazine of Fairfax High School

Tessa Harnisch: Rebel on the Runway

FHS Junior Balances School with Professional Modeling

November 25, 2013

On Nov. 5 junior Tessa Harnisch traveled to New York with her mother. Their journey was not to begin a vacation nor even a weekend getaway; it was a day trip to meet with her agent and go through casting for an upcoming fashion show.

FHS junior Tessa Harnisch has been modeling professionally since summer 2013. (Photo Courtesy of Heartland Model Agency.)

FHS junior Tessa Harnisch has been modeling professionally since summer 2013. (Photo Courtesy of Heartland Model Agency.)

Harnisch is a model signed to Heartland Model Agency and has walked in numerous shows in New York, Washington, D.C. and Boston’s fashion week. Recently she was cast in New York for a Washington fashion show under the brand Sarar, set for Nov. 13.

Heartland Model Agency, a European agency based in Sweden, has offices in New York, Paris, London, Moscow and Toronto. Harnisch, signed to the New York office and travels up to the city to meet with her agent and to cast for photo shoots and shows.Harnisch is a signed model with Heartland Model Agency and has walked in numerous shows in New York, Washington, D.C. and Boston’s fashion week. Recently she was cast in New York for a fashion show in Washington, D.C. under the brand Sarar for Nov. 13.

“It’s hard because you have to pick and choose which castings you do, and then you may or may not even get the show,” said Harnisch. “It would be easier if they were all local.” Harnisch did not get selected for the Sarar fashion show for which she auditioned on Nov. 5.

It was the middle of the summer of 2013 when Harnisch said she first thought to try modeling. “My mom took pictures of me and we sent them to a few local agencies, but they took months to reply,” she said.

When no agencies immediately responded, Harnisch reached out to a friend, a model signed to Heartland, for advice.

“I was only looking for tips, but my friend said her agents was looking for models and asked for my measurements,” said Harnisch. She invited Harnisch to meet with her agent in New York, where Harnisch did a photoshoot for Fashion Avenues New Magazine. The next Friday, Harnisch returned to New York and signed with Heartland Model Agency.

Harnisch’s agent Jorgen Jorgensen said, “Already the day she got her contract, she was booked for several modeling jobs. That doesn’t happen often as new faces need to be trained before entering the [industry].”

Tessa Harnisch is signed to the Heartland Model Agency which is based in Sweden.
(Photo courtesy of Heartland Model Agency).

In her shoot for Fashion Avenues News Magazine, Harnisch modeled both jewelry and dresses. “The funny thing is my wrist ended up in the November issue of the magazine!” said Harnisch — not bad for a model’s first photo shoot.

The modeling industry is often stereotyped as cruel, shallow and competitive. However, Harnisch spoke only of her positive experiences in the business. “I’ve made friends with all the models; everyone is really nice and kisses each other’s cheeks.”

since signing to Heartland, Harnisch has participated in a number of notable shows. Her favorite was during Boston Fashion Week. “Fashion shows are really fun,” Harnisch said. She described the fun of getting her hair and makeup done by professionals, and then described the behind-the-scenes chaos that comes with a fashion show. “They never ever start on time, and sometimes I have to run around backstage to change outfits in time,” Harnisch said.

As the student model travels the east coast for auditions, photo shoots and fashion shows, one of the biggest struggles is balancing her blossoming modeling career with school. Tessa’s mother, Patty Skiffington, said “When this first started, I told Tessa if her grades went down she would have to stop. Her grades went up.”

Harnisch said modeling gives her something to look forward to, motivating her to get her schoolwork done early.

Skiffington accompanies Harnisch on all her events. “She loves it,” Harnisch said, “Even though it stresses her out.” Harnisch’s older brother traveled frequently for sports, and Harnisch said that “it’s more fun for my mom to travel with me than my brother.”

“I don’t have that many concerns,” said Harnisch’s mother. “I guess my biggest concern is that she’s safe and treated respectfully.”

“Tessa is one of those rare talents that we have the pleasure to sign now and then,” said Jorgenson. “Her future as a model looks very bright.”

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