We had the good fortune of connecting with Allegra Richdale and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Allegra, how do you think about risk?
I am a huge proponent of risk. I came from a highly academic background, but my childhood dream was to become an actor. I took the leap right after college, and launched a ten-year career that led me from New York to Los Angeles. Exhilarating times, and indelible experiences, but ultimately, not the road I wanted to pursue as I entered my thirties. So, I “pivoted”—to use the buzz word of the day-and made another leap to law school, and an ensuing career as a litigator. Though I relished a return to academia, the law proved to be too far from the creative sphere for me. I thought long and hard about the next step, and then there was an answer. Tessa James is the perfect marriage between engaging, challenging work and artistic expression. I have finally found the shoe that fits. And I have risk to thank for it.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Tessa James is a very small, female owned company based in Los Angeles dedicated to impeccable quality. In this world of fast fashion, we aim to create timeless pieces that last, that can be passed down and treasured. We love family traditions and it is such a pleasure to be a part of special moments! We also hope to capture the innocence of childhood in our designs. Childhood is such a fleeting time. Let’s dress little girls while we can. As a mother of a teenager, I can promise you that crop tops and baggy sweats come faster than you think! Covid has presented everyone with stark challenges. When it struck, we immediately began making masks from off-cuts of our Liberty fabrics and distributed them to hospitals and front-line workers. Soon, we began offering them though our Instagram account, and the donations that flooded in went entirely to support our Los Angeles sewers. Now, masks are officially a part of our online collection. Through this difficult time, I felt the importance of small business more than ever—to take care of the community, and to innovate to support your own.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I live on the Westside, but I will drive to Republique for a breakfast meeting any day. Covid, of course, has ended such luxuries for the time being, but so many terrific restaurants have come up with creative ways to serve a little joy to go in these times. Jon&Vinny’s, Gjusta, Tartine—these are some of my faves. And have you heard of Carla Cafe LA? The sandwiches they hand out through a window at Bootsy Bellows like some lunchtime speak easy travel well to the beach, where you can sit and savor en plein air.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
First and foremost, Tessa James was inspired by my mother—an homage to her spirit, wit and style. I still catch glimpses of her every day in my daughter, Tessa. Next, my partner, Nanaz Hatami, our Head of Design. Her expertise makes this all work! She breathes fashion and understands innately the mechanics of building a gorgeous, well-fitting piece. A mother and grandmother, she treasures family as I do. And finally, as I reflect on our story so far, it strikes me that there have been so many smart, creative, generous women who have offered guidance along the way in unofficial capacities. The enthusiasm of this tribe—other small business owners, photographers, friends, even our models’ moms—to help behind the scenes has made this such terrifically fun work and is a testament to the power of female collaboration.
Trish Alison Photography