Following Her Passions: The Life and Career of Tess Schoefer
Pursuing one’s passion is a journey that often requires significant effort and time, but the rewards can be immeasurable. It is no secret that successful individuals have a genuine passion for what they do. When we engage in activities that we are passionate about, we tend to perform better, persist longer, and ultimately achieve more. The importance of pursuing one’s passion lies in the fact that it leads to a sense of fulfillment, satisfaction, and happiness. When we pursue our passions, we are more likely to discover new opportunities, expand our horizons, and achieve success beyond our expectations.
Hailing from a small village in Nueva Ecija, Philippines, Tess Schoefer always had big aspirations. From a young age, she dreamed of becoming an actress or a flight stewardess, two professions that seemed glamorous and exciting to her. However, Tess’ artistic inclinations were equally as strong, and during her spare time, she would spend hours painting and drawing. As a child growing up in a rural area, Tess’ dreams may have seemed far-fetched, but that didn’t stop her from pursuing them. She was determined to make something of herself and to see the world beyond the small community where she lived. “Cliché as it may sound,” Tess reflects, “I was a small-town girl with big dreams.”
After graduating from high school, Tess left her small village in Nueva Ecija and moved to Manila to pursue a degree in Education at the University of the East, as her mother had wished. However, Tess soon realized that teaching was not her true passion and shifted her focus to Fine Arts with a major in Interior Design at the University of Santo Tomas.
It was during her time at university that Tess’ life took an unexpected turn. At the age of nineteen, she was discovered for her beauty and physique by a talent scout. Tess was offered the opportunity to pursue a career in fashion and commercial modeling, and she decided to take the chance. “I dropped out of school and embarked on this new journey,” Tess recalls. “As part of the Karilagan International Cultural Arts & Modeling Group, we did luncheon fashion shows and nightly cultural presentations at the Top of the Hilton and did TV commercials. My modeling years gave me the opportunity to travel around the world as Karilagan International was endorsed by the Ministry of Tourism promoting Philippine culture.”
Tess’ decision to leave school and pursue modeling was not an easy one, but it proved to be a turning point in her life. She quickly made a name for herself in the industry, working with top designers and brands and traveling to different parts of the world for photo shoots and fashion shows. Looking back, Tess is grateful for the opportunities that modeling has afforded her. “It was a challenging but rewarding experience,” she says. “I learned a lot about myself and the world around me, and it opened doors to new possibilities.”
After eight years of strutting down catwalks and appearing on screens worldwide, Tess decided to leave the fast-paced world of modeling behind and return to her creative pursuits. Recognizing that she was more than just a pretty face, Tess enrolled at the Philippine School of Interior Design to pursue her passion for design. “Through my modeling career, I gained a lot of independence and was able to fund my education,” Tess states. “But I knew that I wanted to do something more meaningful with my life, and pursuing interior design seemed like the next logical step.”
Tess’ time at the Philippine School of Interior Design provided her with the knowledge and creativity she needed to excel in her new career path. She learned about design principles, color theory, and the latest trends in interior design, and put her newfound knowledge into practice by working on various projects. Her transition from modeling to interior design led her to a different path, but she was determined to succeed. She drew upon the same determination and work ethic that had served her well in her modeling career and applied it to her new role.
As a passionate and driven individual who has pursued her interests in diverse fields throughout her career, Tess always aimed higher. After earning her degree in Interior Design, she ventured into a new adventure and moved to Florence, Italy to pursue her love for Culinary Arts. It was during this time that Tess’ world opened up to new possibilities and experiences, shaping her perspective and igniting her curiosity for different cultures.
Following her time in Florence, Tess’ journey led her to Hong Kong, where she was based for three decades. Tess’ keen eye for design and love for architecture enabled her to explore the world of real estate investment. She began scouting for dilapidated apartments and fixer-uppers, seeing potential where others only saw flaws. “Searching for the right properties was like a treasure hunt for me. I knew how to spot gems that needed polishing and vision to transform into a beautiful and functional space. My love for design and architecture allowed me to see the potential in the most unlikely places.” She smiles.
Tess’ journey in real estate investment is deeply rooted in her love for design and architecture. Her investments spanned across Hong Kong, Thailand, and the Philippines, where she discovered hidden gems and transformed them into beautiful homes. Tess’ approach to real estate investment was not solely about finding profitable properties. She invested in homes that spoke to her heart and used her fine taste to decorate them with beauty and warmth. The transformation of these properties brought her immense joy, and she relished the before-and-after photos of each home she decorated.
Initially, Tess never intended to sell the properties she bought. However, as friends and acquaintances visited her homes, they expressed interest in buying them. This led to Tess exploring the possibility of selling her properties and turning her passion into a lucrative business. With her experience in real estate investment and a keen eye for design, Tess established herself as a trusted and reliable property seller. She understood the needs and desires of her clients, and her homes reflected her impeccable taste and attention to detail. Her passion for design and architecture translated into a business model that not only satisfied her client’s needs but also brought her personal fulfillment.
Apart from selling her properties, Tess also rents out her homes. Her fine taste in design and decoration has always leaned towards classical European styles, but over time, she has infused modern elements to complement traditional timeless pieces. Influenced by her travels, Tess creates different themes for each of her properties, keeping them fresh and unique.
For Tess, creating a home that is both comfortable and visually pleasing for her tenants is a top priority. She aims to inject a positive and inviting atmosphere, one that exudes coziness and warmth. Tess’ properties are a reflection of her vision, and she never follows trends in her design and decorating choices. She believes that a home is a reflection of its owner, and her properties are evident in her attention to detail. Her unique approach to design and decoration allows her to create spaces that are both comfortable and stylish. Her properties are a representation of her travels, experiences, and personal taste, making each of her homes unique and special.
As an investor, interior decorator, and entrepreneur, Tess wears many hats. Tess enjoys the freedom in decorating her homes. There are no limits as to what she can do since she has no boss or criteria that she needs to follow. Although she’s a one-woman powerhouse, Tess collaborates with various architects, engineers, contractors, and designers on a project basis to execute her concept. “I’m a lover of beauty and seeing how everything ties up together from the initial stages to the final product gets me so energized and motivated to keep looking for the next one.” A radiant glow flashes through her face.
After spending 34 years in Hong Kong, Tess decided to move back to Manila six years ago and continue her passion for buying properties and decorating her homes. Her relentless pursuit of success has led her to embrace a new chapter in her life. She recently purchased an apartment in Barcelona, Spain, which serves as the foundation for her new home. Tess acknowledges that no matter what stage of life you are in, a life full of adventure is always possible leading her to new heights.
Tess’ goal is to spend six months of the year living in Barcelona, soaking in the city’s vibrant culture and architecture. For the rest of the year, she plans to travel the world, visiting friends and overseeing her properties in the Philippines. Her love for travel and experiencing new cultures inspires her creativity in her work and feeds her sense of wanderlust. “Living life to the fullest means embracing new experiences and opportunities. My passion for design and decorating has led me to different parts of the world, where I found inspiration and unique ideas for my properties. I like to infuse my personal touch in every property I decorate.” She beams with pride.
As we celebrate the ingenuity of Bulgari for this magazine issue, Tess was all giddy to show me her limited edition of the watch. Her eyes lit up as she recounted her story of how she came to own this coveted timepiece. “I used to work in a jewelry shop, and aside from investing in houses, I also shared a strong fondness for investing in jewelry, cars, and art. In 2016, I had an apartment that my friends often used. After selling the apartment, I was invited to the Bulgari store launch. The watch captured my attention, and I was lost in a trance. Feeling a strong urge to own that watch made me buy it on the spot. The price of that apartment was the same price as the watch. It’s a valued possession since only 300 people own this limited edition.” She winks.
For Tess, collecting unique and valuable items is a passion that complements her work. Her ability to identify and invest in pieces that appreciate in value is a depiction of choosing the best investments. The Bulgari watch is more than just a timepiece for Tess; it’s a symbol of her success and her unwavering pursuit of her passions. For Tess, investing in valuable items is not just a matter of monetary gain, but also a reflection of one’s personal values and taste. Tess’ love for collecting has brought her happiness and satisfaction throughout the years, and her Bulgari watch serves as a treasured reminder of her achievements.
When she’s not busy searching for the next property or decorating her homes, Tess reaches out to the community by being an avid supporter of charities and fundraising educational projects. She encourages the youth to pursue their dreams because everything is possible if you work hard, keep a steady focus, and never give up.
As Tess looks back to her humble beginnings, she appreciates how everything unfolded naturally from her modeling years, and creative pursuits, to her entrepreneurial spirit where she has unlocked beauty in all forms. “There was no roadmap or dictations on how to live my life. Instead, I followed my passion and instincts and embraced the freedom to create and be successful. I used to be a small-town girl who transformed into an empowered woman.” She smiles.
Tess’ story inspires us to follow our passions and turn them into profitable ventures. When we invest our time and energy into something we love, we not only create something beautiful but also open ourselves up to new possibilities and opportunities. Tess’ journey is a testament to the power of creativity, determination, and embracing one’s own path. In her quest for passion, she attained triumphant results. Tess Schoefer serves as an inspiration to women everywhere to follow their dreams, unlock their full potential, and live life on their own terms.
TESS SCHOEFER @tess.schoefer
Creative Director: BARBARA LEE SYCIP @bsycip
Writer: GERALDINE ZIALCITA @geraldineauthor
Copy Editor: KIEDO VILLANUEVA @kei_villanueva
Hair Stylist: HENRI CALAYAG @henricalayag
Floral Designer: GINA DE GUZMAN @petalsgaloreflorist
Featured Fashion Designer: ALBERT ANDRADE @albertandrade
Fashion Designer Assistant: IAN BRUNIO @b._ian_.t
Art Director: NIGEL JOHN DEL MUNDO @nigeldelmundo
Photographer: VINCENT GOTTI @vinniegotti
Head to the links for the full articles and exclusive images:
Ver esta publicación en Instagram