The Founder Of Reliquia Jewellery's Coogee Home Could Double As An Art Gallery
Welcome to The Makers. Each week, we’re celebrating innovators, artisans and crafters of all types, taking you on a private tour of their creative spaces. For this instalment, we head to the eclectic, art-filled home of PR dynamo turned accessories designer, Ana Piteira.
There was a time in Sydney when you couldn’t walk down the street (or through your office) without seeing someone sporting a set of Reliquia’s signature spiral hoops or star sign necklace. In fact, maybe it was you wearing one—or both—of the items that catapulted Ana Piteira’s first accessories label into ubiquity. Now, the fashion PR (who launched her agency, Omgfive at the age of just 24) sits at the helm of three of Australia’s most in-demand labels—Reliquia Jewellery; hair accessories house Valet Studio; and resin clutch line Respiro. Inspired by her Portuguese heritage and early memories of rummaging through her grandmother’s jewellery boxes, Ana’s design aesthetic combines retro reverence with contemporary European elegance, counting the likes of Incu, Tuchuzy, Net-a-Porter, Selfridges and Galeries Lafayette as stockists, to name a few.
Testament to her roots, her home in Sydney’s beachside suburb of Coogee is a treasure trove of art, trinkets, collectibles, and heirlooms. Here, the magic is all in the details. Necklaces, rings, bracelets and earrings spill from dishes that line every surface; while bold, beaded handbags double as sculptures on display. Pops of colour take the form of eclectic gallery walls, a set of stunning pink floral and gold fabric chairs in the dining room and a peach feature wall in another. And, just like the pieces she creates, Ana’s home is chic, charming, and totally original—maybe a homewares line is next for this serial entrepreneur? If so, sign us up.
Bed Threads: Hi Ana! This series is called The Makers. What is it that you make?
Ana Piteira: I create vintage-inspired accessories across three brands: Reliquia Jewellery, Valet Studio and Respiro.
How does the act of “making” relate to your personality and who you are?
For me the “brand” is always at the forefront of what I do. I want to create beautiful pieces of course, but I also want to build a world around the pieces. The jewellery, bags and hair accessories are closely reflective of my personal style and background. Reliquia was the first of the brands and was entirely inspired by the jewellery my grandmother would wear and collect. Even the name "Reliquia" refers to the Portuguese term for relic or heirloom.
Talk us through your creative process. Where do you start?
I generally start with a few key pieces in mind and expand the collection from there. For Valet Studio and Respiro, the colour and textures of the resin play an important part in the development of a story for each range.
What inspired you to branch out from PR and into the world of accessories?
I love the agency and the work that we do there. We are also a sales agency and so five years ago when I started, I saw a gap in the market for accessible gold-filled pieces that resemble vintage jewellery one can layer and wear everyday. The brand started as a small project with a few key pieces but as we began to gain traction, we continued to expand the collection. Two years ago, I wanted to begin working with colour and more dramatic shapes without diluting the strong Reliquia aesthetic. It was out of this desire that Valet Studio and subsequently Respiro was born.
What’s been the single most crucial tool or strategy you’ve used to grow Reliquia, Valet Studio & Respiro? You have garnered a real cult following.
As the owner of a PR agency, when I started my brands, I certainly practiced what I preached. Especially at the beginning, my goal was to see as many people as possible wearing the jewellery. I wanted to create a community around the brands, but also demonstrate that a diverse group of women could relate to and enjoy the brand. This idea has been the most crucial in developing the loyal following for the brands for which we are so grateful.
What’s been the most challenging lesson learnt since you started your business?
A few years ago we experienced a period of really rapid growth that I was somewhat unprepared for. The elements I find most challenging are usually logistic and procedural based. Luckily, we expanded our team and quickly found our feet!
Do you have a single piece of advice you’d give to your younger self or someone looking to start their creative own business?
I always recommend that people just get started. It can take a while to build momentum so the sooner you get started, the better. The second most important factor in my opinion is persistence. “Success” or what one considers to be success might not happen quickly, but if you get started and keep going, chances are five years down the track you will be surprised by what you can achieve.
What’s been the best thing that’s happened to you since you’ve started?
We work with an incredible array of stores including Selfridges, Liberty London, Browns, Galleries Lafayette, Le Bon Marche and Harvey Nichols to name a few. These are stores I would always visit and dream of having our brands represented by one day. Whenever I see our pieces in these stores, it feels very surreal and exciting. The best thing about these brands and the business we have built however, is definitely the team behind them. I feel very lucky coming to work every day and working with the women (and two men) on our team.
Now, the home stuff. How long have you lived in your home?
We have lived here for nine months.
How did you initially know this was the space for you?
We moved from Alexandria to Coogee so I was mostly looking for a space that was open, personal and light-filled. As soon as I stepped into this space, I knew that I wanted to live here. It also has a beautiful rooftop terrace which I immediately dreamed of eating dinner on every night in summer.
What was the thought process behind the way you’ve styled the interior?
I wanted to keep it eclectic so that pieces could be easily transitioned in and out. Functionality and comfort is important to me—I always want to feel like I can happily LIVE in my home. Vessels, candles and books make the space feel warm and are a reflection of who I am.
What are your favourite pieces in your home?
I love all the bits and bobs around the place. Most of them were collected on my travels so they are a constant reminder of special times I’ve experienced. At the moment I love these three ceramic candle holders that I purchased in a gallery in Athens recently. They usually sit on my coffee table and even though the obstruct the view to the television, I refuse to move them.
Do you have any special décor pieces you’re looking to add?
I am always looking to add an unnecessary chair. It's sadly not achievable in the foreseeable future, but I love the Antti Nurmesniemi Striped chairs.
Which is your favourite room in the house?
I love my lounge room. We spend the most time there and it triples as our dining room, office and even bedroom. Falling asleep on the couch to Seinfeld is my favourite thing to do. Sitting in there relaxes me and I love that it looks out onto a massive tree which is so green and lush in summer and then opens up to an ocean view when it loses its leaves in winter.
Tell us about your bedroom.
I like to keep the bedroom for resting or at least relaxing activities—I try to avoid taking my laptop in there and we don’t have a TV in there either. Generally we sleep, listen to a podcast, drink tea, or just relax on the bed with Burger (my dog) in the bedroom.
What does getting a good night’s sleep mean to you?
Six to eight hours sleep in clean soft sheets and allowing the natural light to wake me up. I love not having to wake up to the sound of an alarm.
Do you have any exciting projects coming up you want to talk about?
I am about to launch a candle brand called Aeyre this November. It will start with two scents called Sintra and Lagos which are both delicious.