July 2017 in Lagasca Vintage blog
How To Make Your Career Resolutions Happen, From 5 Women Who Did It.
by ERIN DONNELLY
Iria F. de Ana Portela, founder and creative director of the Iria de Ana London handbag and small leather goods range
Resolution: Launch a fashion label
What made you want to launch your own line, instead of working for another designer?
"I always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I studied for five years at business school in Santiago and Rome, but it wasn’t until I decided to study a master's in fashion at Istituto Marangoni in Milan that I understood what my business would be! I worked for amazing designers for many years, and it was awesome. I wouldn’t change it for anything. I started as an intern in New York City for Diane von Furstenberg, and then worked for CH Carolina Herrera, Purificacion Garcia in Spain, and Amanda Wakeley in London. I was lucky enough to be able to stay in the luxury market and learn, learn, and learn. It was hard work with very long hours, especially at the beginning of my career. However, the time was well-spent as it allowed me to get a basis on which to build my business."
Your handbag collection launched last summer. How did you get to that point?
"I knew it would be hard, but still wanted to try. I can’t refuse a challenge, especially when the reward, to me, is absolutely priceless. I had the best Italian leathers and the best craftsmen to create whatever I wanted. The Spanish artisan I’ve been working with for the past six years has been working for decades with the finest luxury brands. My British craftsman (for my small leather goods), meanwhile, is a veritable genius who chooses fantastic British leathers and is able to solve almost any problem I put in front of him. So I started designing, I knew what I wanted: handbags and personalised small leather goods. I had one of my dear designer friends — who has absolutely impeccable taste — on hand to provide a critical eye. I chose the leathers and hardware by hand and ordered the samples of the bags. The first samples that arrived weren’t what I had in mind at all. I was distraught! I had to make changes to the design, but when the second samples arrived, they looked even better than they did in my mind. It was beautiful to see!"
What's been the hardest part about launching your own bags. The most rewarding?
"The hardest part was the solitude. At the beginning I was all by myself, doing everything — from accounts to social media — besides my basic work as a designer and product developer. Little by little I was able to get freelancers to work with me and at the moment I have most (not all) of the areas covered. The most rewarding? Can’t choose between two: my first sale, at a dinner in a Japanese restaurant, and, most recently, when my husband invited me out for dinner producing the beautiful black cardholder — with his initials on it — to pay. I love what I do and I’m so happy that I get to share my creations."
What advice would you give to other designers who want to launch their own line?
"I can’t express enough how important it is to study hard. Study anything you want, but study and learn from others. A mistake is only a mistake if you don’t learn from it! And when you feel you want to go on your own, do it! A good friend once told me that, in general, we would need at least three years to make any business work and we need 10 years to make a name. So, the sooner we start the sooner we’ll get there! 'What if I fall? Oh but darling, what if you fly!'"
October 2015 - Article in The Fashion Globe online magazine, on Hifas da Terra's collection "Science is wild!".
July 2015 - Front cover and article in Feroce magazine, on Iria de Ana and the collaboration with Hifas da Terra in the collection "Science is wild!".
March 2015 - 300 Gallegos con estilo (300 Stylish Galicians), book, Teofilo edicions. 2015.