FEATURED STORY: The Mastermind Behind StandOUT


Tessa Lerbekmo-Joyes describes herself as a young woman who is proud to be deaf. She grew up feeling strong and fit in well with the hearing community. While being deaf is a disability, it has never stood in the way of her success. Tessa launched her publishing career in her twenties, and with a successful online fashion blog, she stepped right into what she seemed destined to do. In 2011, she launched her first magazine, Fashionsign. Evolving over the years, her new publication, StandOUT has maintained the arts, culture and fashion content that Fashionsign had, but now has a strong editorial focus on everyday Canadians who do extraordinary things, including artists, activists, philanthropists and successful entrepreneurs. Tessa herself has all the traits of a true entrepreneur. She is determined, disciplined and motivated. She also possesses the most important characteristics to be successful; passion, vision, resilience, a strong sense of self and flexibility that allows for risk taking and perseverance.


Success, especially for the entrepreneur, needs to be fueled by passion. Being available for or even working 24 / 7 to achieve goals requires an unstoppable passion.Tessa has always been creative. A love of fashion and the magazines that brought it to life for her, sparked her early publishing efforts. At thirteen she would spend hours cutting out pictures and headlines while writing her own stories, creating her own magazine. She obtained a degree in Fine Arts from Red Deer College and

upon completion, knew where she wanted to focus her effort. With her love of design and illustration, she continued her education, attending Mount Royal University where she studied Electronic Publishing. During her studies, she switched into the Applied Communications program. That cemented her dedication to work in the magazine industry.


After graduating, Tessa realized that her disability was an obstacle to finding a career in her area of expertise.  Communication was difficult and she struggled with finding her own unique way to share her skills. She had always been creative and she considered the possibility of marketing what ever piece she was working on.

She soon realized the only way she could have a successful career that she loved would be to create one for herself.  She knew she had to become her own boss and follow her own path.

Her passion and her creativity sparked the vision of her own magazine. A magazine that was fresh, honest and inspiring. No small feat for a young woman who could not take calls, hear proposals, sit in on presentations without the aid of an interpreter. Her vision was strong enough for her to move forward and see the dream become reality.


Tessa came face to face with discrimination when she was entering the workforce. She found herself being judged because of a lack of understanding of her disability. Many employers were not only insensitive to her situation, but often judgemental, and sometimes outright cruel.

“I know in almost every job I’ve had, growing up, my disability was a nuisance to them, they treated me unfairly and I will never forget.”

Tessa’s personal life was not without challenges. Finding herself in an abusive relationship, and not seeming to have the ability to achieve her goals, she felt defeated. Believing she had much to offer the world, she didn’t allow the feelings to take away her power and Tessa drew on her strength to walk away. Showing remarkable resilience, she left everything behind and started from scratch. It was from this place that she moved forward to create StandOUT and realize her publishing dream. She is candid about the road to personal and entrepreneurial success.

“Business is not for the faint of heart; you need to be able to take many hurtful rejections, and learn how to get more motivational fuel from every little milestone and successful step you do experience, during your entrepreneurial journey.”

Strong sense of self

Tessa was born into a loving family in Cremona, Alberta. She was healthy, but at the age of one, her parents learned she was deaf. Using American Sign Language (ASL) and by reading lips, she was able to communicate with friends and family. She was active in sports and attended the local school from kindergarten through grade twelve. She was just a regular kid who was not able to hear. Her dreams and goals were based on her special interests and talents and she was never made to feel that  her different way of communicating was a liability.

A proud mother to two beautiful girls,Tessa has been able to pass on life lessons to her children that most parents would be unable to.  Being a deaf person has given her a foot up on teachings of respect and openness to her daughters.

I truly feel being a deaf mom comes with some advantages,” said Tessa.  “My daughters are four and eight and already, they know and are aware of the deaf and blind Helen Keller. They can also rephrase a sentence with different arrangement of words so I understand them better, while some adults can’t do that.”

She goes on to say the girls understand that “Just because some people are different, doesn’t mean they are any less, and they think a disability isn’t a big deal because they see what their mother is doing on her own.”

“Having a disability gives me a different perspective in life,” Tessa admitted.  “Being deaf  can really get overwhelming, because as a deaf person, we see and feel other people’s energy, good or bad. We see what others don’t because we cannot rely on our hearing.”

As in all matters, Tessa looks for and utilizes the positive in any situation. Her ability to assess others energy has helped her know who to invest time with. She has learned to trust her instincts and is not allowing people to take advantage of her because of her disability. But there is also a greater loss with being deaf. “When I can’t hear things, it can be hard and while sometimes it doesn’t bother me, other times, it hurts my heart. For example, I will never be able to hear my kids’ conversations while they play together or when they are riding behind me in our vehicle. I miss out when we go to events or in a large audience because it’s tricky getting an interpreter every time.

“But – it helps me focus on and be more motivated with what I can do.”

Tessa’s struggles to  find a way that business could reflect the talents and abilities she had to offer to the world prepared her for the day to day challenges of producing a quality product in a fast paced, ever changing, competitive market. Over the past seven years she has had to re-evaluate, revamp and relaunch her magazine. With little capital and facing technical difficulties and web page issues, she has shown remarkable flexibility in responding to problems, always looking for new solutions. She wears many hats and manages to somehow balance the things that matter most to her, family, friends and StandOUT.

Earlier this year, Tessa, with StandOUT Publications was nominated for the Canadian Business Chicks award; an annual event that showcases and represents powerful Canadian women entrepreneurs. More recently, she was notified as being a finalist at the event on September 20, 2017.

Success takes time and patience, but with hard work and dedication, everyone can achieve their goals.  Tessa shows her strength, power and compassion, not only in the business community, but also by being an example for people with disabilities proving that dreams do come true.  She says It’s all about knowing HOW to bring your vision to LIFE while collaborating with many others.”

“It’s about how we present ourselves. It’s proper to be well dressed, be humble and carry ourselves with pride.”

Tessa is an inspiration to everyone she meets. She is charismatic and  passionate, and her presence fills a room with an inexplicable joy. She is a much loved and respected member of the Calgary fashion and professional communities. Her most significant win she says is raising two great kids with great  attitude and amazing personalities. She also feels she is winning in her journey of success by being able to inspire others.

StandOUT Publications is a high quality, online and print-on-demand, magazine that publishes monthly feel-good, inspirational and extraordinary stories about ordinary Canadians.

Discovering the unique talents of fellow Canadians, recognizing ourselves in the challenges others face and learning how they achieved success makes for good reading. Not only does StandOUT Publications showcase individuals, the magazine helps introduce and bring exposure to products and companies that are 100% Canadian.

StandOUT Publications is committed to sharing stories that bring hope and determination to Canadian entrepreneurs.  By presenting intelligent stories of Canadian celebrities and success stories of everyday people, Tessa hopes the magazine inspires those who are currently struggling to make their dreams come true.

— Mitch Wiebe & Catherine Tkach

Click HERE to order your print!

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