Tessa Stamp has her hands full. She has a job with the Fringe Festival, a one-year-old baby and works as a freelance artist. But, she couldn’t pass up the opportunity when a commercial space became available in the historic Gibbard Block in Highlands.
She opened The Tesserae, a small paint and plant shop, in March with the goal of sharing her love for creating with others in the community.
“One of my most favorite things to do is teach people how to create,” says Stamp. “I always learn something from them no matter what age they are, and I always say it’s like pouring dopamine shots, which is why this place is set up like a bar, a paint bar.”
Stamp learned about chalk paint from Leanne Playter-Korsos, the former owner of the old Apple Box Boutique in Highlands, which used to be where Kind Ice Cream is currently located. Apple Box sold Annie Sloan chalk paint, and was the only stockist in Alberta. Stamp worked at the boutique teaching workshops, and, when Playter-Korsos retired, she passed the paint onto Stamp to sell. Stamp sold the paint at markets for about two years before opening The Tesserae.
“When I got the opportunity to come back here, like a block and a half from our house and not even half a block from where the old store was, I jumped at it,” says Stamp. “People were excited. Our store is really small and my dreams are bigger than that, but this is our place to grow.”
Along with Annie Sloan chalk paint, The Tesserae sells a variety of plants and herbs that her husband grows in their home’s backyard greenhouse. The shop also sells plant pots, which Stamp encourages customers to customize with the chalk paint, and local products like Acquired Taste Tea.
Stamp hosts a variety of workshops each month at The Tesserae like how to make Mason jar centrepieces or macrame plant hangers. She also teaches Annie Sloan 101, where each participant receives an old cabinet door and learns four different techniques of painting with chalk paint.
“I find the people here in this neighbourhood are very kind, so there’s a very supportive community,” says Stamp. “Opening up during a pandemic here has been pretty easy. If anything, I found people were excited to welcome another business in and are excited about plants, and it’s just something else to make them happy.”