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Business of the Month - Tessa Laing Stage Art

Old Girl, Tessa Laing, from the Class of 2015 developed her business from the garage of her house whilst she was still studying. Tessa Laing Stage Art encompasses puppet, costume, prop and set construction, as well as design and scenic art. Read more about Tessa's business below.

Tell us about your business and how it began. 

Tessa Laing Stage Art encompasses puppet, costume, prop and set construction, as well as design and scenic art. I started freelancing in my last year of university where I studied props and scenery construction, working in the garage of my share house. It was from here that Tessa Laing Stage Art was born. I still work in a garage but have accumulated enough tools to make it into a small workshop. I design and build items mostly for theatre productions; however, I have done some Australian film work as well as odd jobs like portraits for weddings.

What was your biggest break getting into this business? 

Getting work in the theatre/entertainment business is about having good relationships with the right people. I was given a job of sculpting a replica of the Red Dog statue in the Shenton Park Dogs’ Refuge Home for the film “Koko: A Red Dog Story” which came out earlier this year. So, I consider that to be a big break.

What makes your business special, unique or different? 

I would say just that it has me in it! I work independently, and I care a lot about giving people magical experiences that are hard to forget. I try to be pleasant to engage with and put as much effort into my work as I can, and I think that’s what might make a client return to me for another job.

What is the best business advice you have ever been given?

I actually keep a folder on my computer where I write down good career advice I have been given so this one is easy!

Always give your clients exactly what they ask for and a little bit more. But remember that there will be some who always try to get more for less, quicker for cheaper. Try to be strong and say sure I can do it quicker but what do you want me to leave out? No tail? No ears? If you want quality, it takes time.

You need to weigh up whether it is worth punishing yourself trying to do a job with the risk of being taken advantage of or staying strong and walking away towards something better. Making unfair amounts of money in the short term doesn’t necessarily outweigh waiting for a bigger, more beneficial future job.

And lastly, NEVER ever accept pizza as a form of payment.


To learn more about Tessa Laing Stage Art please contact Tessa via Facebook, web or email.

Each month on the Old Girls' Facebook page we feature an Old Girls' business so you can find out about the great products and services offered by familiar faces. As part of this, we delve a little further and ask our Old Girls to answer some questions relating to their businesses and how they got started. If you would like to be included, please contact us at oga@stmarys.wa.edu.au with your business details so we can add you to our features list. If you are a customer or friend of an Old Girl with a great business that we should know about, please send us the information.