20 Under 40 – Virginia Tiernan


The Ace Agency
Education: Harvard College, The Episcopal School of Dallas
(Photo: Victoria Feur)

Virginia Tiernan is one busy lady.

After she graduated from the Episcopal School of Dallas in 2017, Tiernan interned for U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan in Washington, D.C. There, she gave tours of the U.S. Capitol building, facilitated correspondence, directed guests at events like the State of the Union address, and conducted policy research.

After a gap year, Tiernan started at Harvard College, where, during her second semester, she started her company, the Ace Agency. The company combines the roles of professional modeling and advertising agencies to help small-to-medium-sized businesses advertise products with professional models at reasonable prices.

“My goal is to democratize high-quality e-commerce content for fashion companies of all sizes. I have created content for 19 brands across the United States, several (of) which are based in Dallas,” Tiernan said.

Her company was selected as a fall 2019 and spring 2020 participant in the Harvard Venture incubation program at Harvard Innovation Lab, which includes startups from all Harvard graduate schools and the undergraduate college. It was a semi-finalist in the Harvard President’s Innovation Challenge.

“Marketing has changed more in the past 10 years than it has in the past 100 years, and small to medium-sized fashion brands have a high amount of competition with companies with large followings and substantial marketing budgets,” Tiernan said. “I wanted to offer fashion brands of all sizes the same quality marketing tools and democratize advertising on Instagram.”

She hopes to be either an investor at a private equity or venture capital firm or working on another startup in the future.

Q: Tell us about your involvement in the Park Cities and/or Preston Hollow communities?

A: I created a microfinance club at The Episcopal School of Dallas that raised money and facilitated loans to women entrepreneurs in Latin American countries through a microfinance organization called Esperanza International. The club financed over 20 microfinance loans in addition to taking a mission trip to the Dominican Republic to remodel an elementary school in Santo Domingo. For two summers, I ran a summer camp at ESD for elementary and middle school students called Camp Spark, where counselors were solely high school students. During the summer of 2019, I worked on The Ace Agency in Dallas producing photoshoots, providing modeling jobs for college-aged girls in the Park Cities.

Q: What was your first job, and what did you learn from it?

A: My first job was working as a summer camp counselor called Camp Invention at The Episcopal School of Dallas when I was 15 years old. The job taught me the value of patience and how meaningful it feels to give back to students through teaching. Additionally, the camp encouraged innovation for third graders, which means so much to me, considering that my most prominent passion is entrepreneurship.

Q: What do you love most about your community?

A: The people are my favorite part of my community and I am incredibly fortunate to call the Park Cities home. Whether at a restaurant, in a park, or my favorite stores, I can always count on someone with a warm welcome, help, or smile. Without the charismatic, generous, and warm-hearted spirit of the people in the place I call home, the Park Cities would never be the same.

Q: If you could buy a book (or rent a movie) for your neighbor, what would it be and why?

A: If I could rent a movie for my neighbor, it would be Forrest Gump because the film encompasses some of my favorite events in American history with a humorous script that is embedded with lessons of kindness and hope.

Q: What is your favorite local store?

A: My favorite local store is Cotton Island!

Q: Where is the best place in the Park Cities or Preston Hollow for a power lunch – what do you order?

A: My favorite place in the Park Cities for a power lunch is definitely True Food Kitchen and I always order the quinoa teriyaki chicken bowl.

Rachel Snyder

Rachel Snyder, deputy editor at People Newspapers, joined the staff in 2019, returning to her native Dallas-Fort Worth after starting her career at community newspapers in Oklahoma. One of her stories won first place in its category in the Oklahoma Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest in 2018. She’s a fan of puns and community journalism, not necessarily in that order. You can reach her at [email protected]

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