Tezza Barton started behind the lens more than a dozen years ago, and has since parlayed her expert eye into Instagram gold as @tezza, with more than 800K followers, and a popular photo-editing app with 3 million-plus downloads. Oh, and her own fashion and sunglasses collections, NBD.
How did you come up with the idea for your Tezza app?
I’ve been a photographer for more than 12 years, constantly working on my skills and editing aesthetic and sharing my work online. In that time, it started to gain an audience and reputation, and people were constantly asking me how I edited my photos. If there’s one thing I’ve learned as an artist it’s the more you share, the more you grow, so I started to share my technique with people and hosted a few workshops around photography. A few years into this, my husband [Cole Herrmann], who is now my business partner, thought it would be super cool if we could take everything I knew and put it all together in an easy-to-use app, so people could really achieve the photography aesthetic they wanted.
What was the app-building process like?
My husband studied computer science in school but never built a photo editing app before, so it took us a solid year for him to build it, test it, and finally release it. It was just the two of us in our little studio apartment cranking away on it at night while we were working on the rest of the brand during the day. I’ll never forget the day we got everything working! The second we launched we learned so much right way. We built the app for our community, and it was extremely helpful to have immediate feedback that really shaped the app to what it is today. At the time we didn’t expect it to be a full-time job; it was just an idea. Jump ahead a year and half later and the Tezza app has become one of the biggest parts of our business.
Do you plan to expand the Tezza app, and launch more apps?
We are already working on our 2021 plan for the app. We have new updates being worked on every day that will launch every month of this year! We have so many ideas around giving the tools over to creatives and letting them showcase their special sauce in the app and lots of other surprises to make creating content fun and original.
Tell us about your eyewear! Why did you want to explore that category?
I’m a lover of accessories. There’s no better way to finish an outfit than with a pair of sunglasses. I’ve been collecting them for years and feel like they’re the one thing I’m always willing to invest in because the styles always come back around. I wanted to create a line of statement vintage-inspired eyewear that was high quality but didn’t break the bank. Keeping the glasses under $100 was our biggest goal; I was so excited our team pulled it off, even using exclusive acetates and luxury lenses.
What categories do you want to tackle next?
Footwear and jewelry, no question. I’m already getting my feet wet in one of those categories, and can’t wait to launch something soon!
Any tips for those aspiring to a career like yours?
Don’t stop, don’t give up, and don’t ever think it’s too late. I’m trying to keep up with the newer and younger generation just as much as someone coming up is. The industry will always be here; the platforms will evolve. Have ideas, have value, ask yourself what are you giving. If you’re doing that, there will always be a place for you.
What was your biggest professional challenge in 2019?
Running your own business, and also doing it with your spouse, is so rewarding but has its challenges. Last year was full of extreme personal hardships from health to family. There were so many days I didn’t know how to balance running a business and dealing with the personal side of things. I think my biggest challenge this year was truly realizing that I am a businesswoman, and I had to learn how to be a boss and manage a team of people in order to bring the most to my business. It took time, but we’ve finally hit a stride where separating my business life from my personal life is possible and incredibly helpful to my overall mental health.
How do you predict the influencer industry will change in 2020?
We’re all becoming better influencers, and the younger generation got to see the industry form and absorb that. I’m excited to see them come up and how they will shift it. It’s nice to finally be taken seriously as an influencer. A lot of people used to think it was a fake job and all we did was take selfies and sit around drinking lattes. We are business owners, creating high-quality advertisements with brands, and using our trusted communities to help launch and expand products. There’s nothing easy about it and to anyone who thinks so, please give it a try. If you want to be successful, it’s a highly demanding 24/7 grind.
What’s still on your career bucket list?
Working with Gucci in some capacity. They always nail their storytelling and visuals; it’s been a brand that has spoken to me for as long as I can remember.
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