Who Is Tessa Clark? New Details About The 'Project Runway' Contestant

Photo: bravo
Who Is Tessa Clark? New Details About The 'Project Runway' Contestant

Project Runway’s 17th season premiered on Bravo on March 14th. So far, four contestants have gone home, but we’ve seen all kinds of amazing creations from these talented designers along the way.

With new judges Karlie Kloss, Elaine Welteroth, and Brandon Maxwell, and Nina Garcia returning to the judging panel, it’s a season full of fresh new faces and talent. In addition to the new judges, Christian Siriano, the winner of season four, will also mentor the contestants, since neither Tim Gunn nor Heidi Klum will return this season.

The prizes are also much bigger. With a $250,000 cash prize, a feature in Elle Magazine, $50,000 to put towards a studio, and a mentorship with the Council of Fashion Designers of America on the line, the contestants will have to show what sets them apart from the rest of the group. And though we’re only a few episodes in, there’s no telling who will win.

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While designing is a major part of the series, hearing the backstory of each designer is just as interesting. So who is Tessa Clark? Here are five things to know about the minimalist luxury designer, how she got her start, and her experience on Project Runway.

1. Her mother and father inspired her to pursue fashion.

Clark was born and raised in rural Ohio, the daughter of a potter, her mother, and a miller, her father. From a young age, her mother instilled in her a love of fashion, and as she grew up, she began collecting fashion magazines. Because she was raised in a restored barn home next to their flour mill, she learned to admire and be inspired by nature.

Her upbringing also became the inspiration for her brand.

According to her website, “In the late 1970s my parents purchased a working historic gristmill in rural Ohio and created a life for themselves as a miller and a potter. Years later, they turned the business of the mill into a non-profit organization so it could remain open to the public. They have instilled in me the importance of maintaining high standards of quality and remaining ethically grounded. Their lifestyle and their appreciation for the handmade, for history, for art and for the environment influenced my development and continue to inspire me.”

2. She attended college.

Clark has a bachelor’s of science degree in fashion design from the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning program. The five-year program allowed her to intern at many places, including VPL, Free People, Calle Evans, Marchesa, and Michelle Boor Shoes. She also worked at Michelle Boor Paris-Vienna in Paris, France.

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3. Clark has her own brand and line.

She created her brand, Grind and Glaze, as an homage to the people in her life who influenced her. According to the website, “Grind and Glaze is inspired by Tessa’s upbringing in rural Ohio and is an homage to her parents: the miller and the potter. Grind and Glaze is dedicated to creating garments made of eco-friendly textiles like organic cotton, recycled polyester, hemp, silk, and tencel, while keeping production in the United States...

When designing new garments, I shuffle between sketching and draping fabric. I keep in mind the Grind and Glaze woman, the lifestyle she lives, and where she might wear the pieces I create. I tend to use sustainable textiles and have founded my brand on remaining socially and environmentally ethical. This influences my choice of textiles.”

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4. But she’s been involved in other escapades.

She worked as part of the original team for Idlewild Woman, a women’s clothing boutique, located in Cincinnati's Historic Over The Rhine community. Her first collection for her brand was sold in the boutique, but she also became a member of the local fashion design manufacturing facility, Sew Valley.

“The Midwest really lacks in production offerings for sewn garments, and Sew Valley was the solution to my problem,” Clark said. “I began designing my most recent collection, and SV produced it.”

5. She had a wonderful time on Project Runway.

In an interview, when asked about her experience on the show, she said, “I absolutely loved it. I personally work really well under pressure. I would do it again in a heartbeat.” Clark also mentioned that she and her former castmates still keep in touch, and regularly chat through group text.

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Samantha Maffucci is an editor for YourTango who focuses on writing trending news and entertainment pieces. In her free time, you can find her obsessing about cats, wine, and all things Vanderpump Rules.