Makeup by Erica Kawai
Location: Avec Nightclub
Tyler Durden, meet Tessa Elizabeth. Her living ethos is perfect feminine riposte to your masculine mantra of “Destroy a flawed existence”: Build a better one. While you were sabotaging those jobs you hated and living for today, she was puttin’ in work at one she loves—no matter what anyone says about it—to build a better tomorrow. True, we’re not the cars we drive, nor how much money we have in the bank. But if those things motivate us and reflect the lengths we’re willing to go to better ourselves, why not let the world think so? And beauty as shocking and alluring as Tessa’s—is that what a woman looks like? Yes. Just don’t ever say it’s all that made her what she is today. You aren’t the only one who’s not afraid of punches.
[2NR]: We think it’s safe to say you’re a completely new face in our scene. Give us some background.
[TE]: Yes! I’m 21, mostly Castilian Spanish with a mix of other European nationalities and a tiny bit Indian, was born and raised in Huntington Beach, CA, and live in Garden Grove.
And you work at one of those SoCal coffee shops we all love so much?
[laughs] That’s right—the ‘Vietnamese coffee shop.’ I actually work at two: Temptation, a smaller more laid-back one, and Miss Cutie, which is one of the larger and better-known ones. I actually work for the woman who started them in the States. The sexy atmosphere, with us wearing lingerie and looking sexy all the time, was all her idea. I’ve worked with about 8-10 different ones over the years.
We love them, but there’s still an air of mystery surrounding them in the public eye. What exactly goes on behind those doors?
The truth is pretty straightforward: We create a sexy, friendly atmosphere where people can relax, talk, play cards, watch sports, or just kick back with friends in good company. It’s our job to get to know the customers and keep them coming back, and they and the shops’ owners treat us really well in return. It’s really just a good, friendly vibe . . . but with sexy girls and good coffee! It’s a shame when people assume the worst about something before they try it. You can thank the news for that.
Stupid journalists. What was it like for a blonde, mostly European girl from Huntington Beach to fit in with SoCal’s Vietnamese culture?
Very easy. Huntington is close to Westminster, Garden Grove, and Santa Ana, where I work. I left home when I was 16 and made the friends I have today, so it’s been part of my life ever since. I don’t really think about it as anything out of the ordinary.
16?! Was it difficult balancing school and work at such a young age?
Yes, but I think it was just what I needed. My mother raised me with good values and a strong work ethic. I was difficult when I was younger, but just because I wanted to see what life was all about and make it on my own. I started working at a pizza shop and living with my friend, got into the coffee biz from there, and just tried to work hard and stay focused since then.
Do you work a lot?
About 8-12 shifts a week, eight hours each one.
Damn girl! You hustlin’!
[laughs] Yea, but I love it! I love working hard, making money, and feeling like I’m making my life better. It makes me happy, and when I go to work happy, the customers are happier, which makes everything better. Good energy like that is addicting and contagious! Being happy with what you do for a living makes all the difference.
But what if you’re stuck talking to a really ‘unhappy’ customer who’s immune to your positive vibes?
Like somone who’s having a bad day?
[laughs] We do! I’ll wait until one of the other girls is looking, and I’ll flick my hair to the side. Then she’ll come over and be all, ‘Hey, I really need some help making drinks in the back.’ Works every time.
Do you have a secret code for when you’re talking to a guy you like?
Yes . . . but it’s a secret! [winks]
OK. [winks back . . . awkwardly] What do you do with all that loot the guys throw at you?
Spend it! [laughs] But I save a lot, too. Obviously I won’t be doing this forever, so knowing that I’m investing in my future is important to me, too.
What do you drive?
An ’07 BMW 328i. It was the first car I’ve ever had, and I’m proud to say I bought it myself. I love it!
And we hear you’re going to get a motorcycle license soon?
Yes! Well . . . hopefully soon. I love bikes but haven’t actually ridden one by myself yet. All my guy friends have nice ones and I’m afraid to lay them down [laughs]. But yeah, I’d love to get good at it and have a nice one. Maybe a Ducati someday?
Can’t argue with that. Other than speed, what are some of Tessa’s guilty pleasures?
Sushi! I love sushi. I eat it way too much. Shopping, makeup, clothes—shoes! I know it’s such a girly cliché, but I love all that stuff!
What about when it comes to guys—after putting up with us professionally, what can we do to win you over romantically?
I think it’s more important what you don’t do. Don’t expect that buying me a random drink at a bar is going to win me over. Don’t expect me to rush into things, because I don’t. Don’t be impatient or clingy; I’m a busy girl and need my space. Don’t brag or be cocky—comfortable confidence with a fun, easygoing attitude is perfect!
What do you see as the next step for Tessa Elizabeth?
More modeling, for sure. It’s also something I won’t be doing for long, so I want to get it in while I can. After that, I’d love to go into business for myself—I just don’t know what, yet. Possibly something health-related, maybe food, health food . . . I don’t know. I need to make the most of what I’m doing right now a little longer.
Most embarrassing moment. Go:
You’re not getting that one! But there was one recently that I’ll share. It was my first day at Miss Cutie, and I was trying really hard to make a good impression, looking sexy and carrying a full tray of drinks, and guess what?
Hard! [laughs] So embarrassing. But I guess we all fall now and then; just gotta roll with the punches and get back up again.
Words to live by.
Ethnicity: Castilian Spanish, other European, Indian
Birthday: December 3
Location: Garden Grove, CA
Thank you list: Steve for the photos; Charles, Luke and 2NR for the opportunity; Erica for the styling; and, of course, my supportive friends and family!