Welcome to Working On It, marie claire Australia’s series asking CEOs, founders, experts and trail-blazers the big (and not so big) questions about how they work.
Today we’re talking to Ana Piteria, the founder and designer whose brands dominate your Instagram feeds.
First there’s Blanca, the dopamine-infused fashion label whose oversized shirts and relaxed bottoms have been spotted on Emily Ratajkowski, Blanca Miro, and every fashion It-girl whose style you admire.
Then there’s Reliquia, the jewellery label synonymous for star sign necklaces before astrology became the big fashion thing. Also on Ana’s roster are jewellery brand Valet and interiors brand Aeyre, whose joyful candle holders you’ve probably coveted.
It all falls under the Reliquia Collective brand, and then she heads up a communications agency. In other words? The woman is busy. We’re taking notes, both on how she gets it all done and how she spots the next big thing.
marie claire Australia: What is your current role and how would you describe a typical day?
Ana Piteira: As the founder and creative director of Reliquia Collective and Sueño Communications, no two days are the same. In the office, I generally oversee and plan upcoming ranges, check in with the sales team, manage logistics and also touch base with our PR and wholesale clients. Recent mumhood keeps me on my toes – I’m working on raising a tiny human as well, so that’s a fun adventure. It’s forced me to take a little step back from daily responsibilities, but I’m lucky to have a great team of women to keep things under control day in and day out.
MC: How did you get here?
AP: After working in the industry for a few years, I launched Sueño Communications (then called OMGFIVE) in 2013. Being in that position really helped me identify certain gaps in the market: customers wanted affordable, chic jewellery, but there wasn’t much out there at the time. The idea for Reliquia Jewellery came from there, taking inspiration from the timeless designs I found in my grandmother’s collection. What started in the back room of the agency gradually needed more space, and I launched Valet, Respiro, Aeyre and Blanca off the back of it. The last ten years have been a wild ride!
Blanca’s Pepa cardigan in dusty pink, $299, from THE ICONIC.
MC: What was your first ever job?
AP: Diva Jewellery when I was 17, so it was a full circle moment when I launched a jewellery brand years later.
MC: And what was your worst ever job?
AP: Is it cliche to say I haven’t had a ‘worst job ever’? I have always enjoyed elements of every job.
MC: What’s your career advice to other women?
AP: It’s hard to pinpoint one key piece of advice, but I think it often comes down to an attitude. Showing up, working hard, taking an interest and giving things a go gets you so much further than having the right degree. It’s not always about the classes you’ve done at university, but the way you adapt to a situation.
MC: Reliquia is known in particular for its astrology necklaces, and since the brand’s launch in 2015, it feels like the general public’s interest in astrology has skyrocketed. How much do you attribute the astrology necklaces to the success of the brand?
AP: It really was an of-the-moment launch, and they are still one of Reliquia’s most popular offerings. The star sign necklaces definitely played a significant role in cementing the brand in the minds of customers and retailers, but it took a while for me to get used to walking around and spotting the chains around the necks of those passing by! They are always a fun gift and a cute way to identify oneself.
MC: And what’s your star sign?
AP: I’m a Taurus…so take from that what you will.
Reliquia star sign necklace, $149, from THE ICONIC
MC: And as much as Reliquia pioneered astrology-themed jewellery, Blanca has heralded the reign of the oversized shirt. You have a knack for picking trends early and then doing them well. What’s your secret?
AP: I don’t sleep? Put it down to being a Taurus if you like, but I generally know what I like/want and go on a desperate search for it. When I couldn’t find the perfect oversized shirt, I set out to offer it. Although I research, read and tap into the zeitgeist, I’m always listening to my gut.
MC: How did lockdowns speed up the launch of your homewares line, Aeyre?
AP: Oddly enough, Aeyre was originally set to launch earlier, but we had some hold-ups in the process. It came about at an opportune time, though. We found ourselves in the same space for hours on end, so most of us set out to makeover these areas and add life. It may not cure anything, but it’s funny how some beautiful glassware or a candle can immediately uplift a room.
MC: How do you deal with your inbox?
AP: Inbox management is not my forte, but I do have a colour-coded system that somewhat helps me along. Although an expert, I am not.
MC: And how do you deal with burnout?
AP: When I’m at home, I try to switch off; my goal is to save work for the office (although social media makes that tricky). I think it’s so important to take time out and fill up on the things that make you feel relaxed or force a laugh. The weekends and evenings are precious times for me, particularly now with a baby in tow. I always love to put on an episode of a favourite TV show and chuckle, spend time in the kitchen or chill out in our new infrared sauna.
MC: What have you bought that’s made the biggest difference to your productivity?
AP: I always work better in spaces that inspire me, feel organised (in my version of organised mess) and are nice to look at. Setting up my desk with an aesthetically pleasing laptop riser, cute stationery, and an assortment of candles often does the trick.
MC: Describe your power outfit.
AP: Given the Blanca aesthetic, it’s probably not surprising that my go-to look consists of comfortable pants (I always love a knitted pair), an oversized shirt and a staple blazer. Chunky sandals or sneakers are a must, and I’ll always add a few accessories. There is power in simply putting pieces together without overthinking them. And you never want to feel uncomfortable or “not yourself” when you’re heading into an important meeting or need to reply to a difficult email.
MC: What’s your current work bag?
AP: My current work bag is ever-changing. Lately I’ve been gravitating towards the Marni Shopping Knit Tote Bag – it fits all my work and momlife things.
MC: WFH or office
MC: BYO lunch or takeout?
AP: Happy when I BYO, but I love a healthy takeout.
MC: What’s on your desk right now?
AP: Coffee, candle, AirPods, laptop and many notebooks.
MC: Email sign off?
AP: Warmest, Ana.