Ana Bianchi is the founder and designer of PaperGirl Collection. Her dresses for little girls are illustrated with original artwork and include a companion storybook, all joyfully created at the PaperGirl Studio in New York and made in USA. PaperGirl Collection dresses for your daughters are available at Bergdorf-Goodman in New York, Neiman Marcus online and at PaperGirlCollection.com. This Beyond Mom shares with us how PaperGirl Collection came into fruition, the three essential circles of women in her life and more!
1. What makes you a Beyond Mom?
As any woman who is a wife, a mom and a company founder, I place great care and effort in keeping balance in these three aspects of my life. I strive to pay attention to details and make things and moments meaningful, beautiful and memorable. I do this in my relationships as I do in the products I design at PaperGirl Collection and before.
2. What are the parts of you that have grown and expanded since becoming a Mom?
It is hard not to mention what all moms experience: huge love, deep joy, the sense of selflessness and responsibility and, of course, some worries.
Being a mom has definitely helped me rediscover the joy in many simple things, the sense of wonder in nature, and connects me to little girl inside.
When I am with my daughter I am reminded of enjoying the present moment. Becoming a mom also solidified even more my life project with my husband, it deepened our love as we now have this shared joy and responsibility.
3. Can you share a collaboration/success story with another woman; what helped the collaboration become successful?
I love circles of women and I strongly believe in the magic and force of women collaborating. There have been 3 important circles of women in my life:
My first circle was my group of friends from 1st grade, we are still close and will be ‘til the end of our lives. Love, support and a lot of laughter.
My second circle came in my late 20’s: a group of 13 journalists, writers, professional women, a shaman. Spiritual and strong. We would get together once a month and in a salon format, we would talk about ideas, growth, and the Feminine. With two of them I published a book titled “the woman, the goddess, the witch and the moon”. This group was very important in my formation into womanhood, it taught me about inner strength and peace, clarity of intentions, connections with women and the planet.
My third circle, is the one I am creating now in my company PaperGirl Collection: the Council of Moms. It started with my mom friends, brilliant women in their own right with the added “pixie dust” of being moms. “It takes a village to raise a child”, this also applies to starting a company. This group has become my inner circle of advisors and have helped me tremendously. I am incredible grateful to them. They are blueprint for the kind of people I want to surround myself in my company, either working in the company or as brand ambassadors.
4. What relationships help you stay connected to yourself?
My loving husband, who is more than my best friend, he is my soulmate. Wise, loving, supporting and gentle, he is where I go to talk about ideas, bring perspective to any dilemma and above all, find inner peace and balance.
My daughter, 6-year old, is a best reminder of how fast time flies! Her laughter, the way she helps me rediscover the world, play with imagination connects me with myself and with my inner child.
Building a company is very time demanding and spending meaningful time with my daughter and husband brings purpose and joy to the hard work late at night and solidifies the sense that I am building my legacy.
5. Do you have a ‘Beyond’ dream that you are pursuing? If so, please share…
In my 20’s and 30’ I dreamt of what my perfect creative year would look like: 3 months painting, 3 months making sculptures and ceramic, 3 months writing, 3 months travelling, except I went on to have a successful career in branding.
When my daughter was 4 and after finishing my branding career highest profile project –the redesign of the logo and plane livery for American Airlines- I decided to reconsider what I wanted to do in life.
I went back to that crazy idea of my ideal year: painting/writing/traveling/making.
Was there something I could do that could become a legacy? That would contain the activities of my ideal year, the things I am best at, with all the branding and design knowledge I acquired in all those years. Plus, could I use my talents make something really unique and to help others? Could I create this from scratch?
What if I could create a brand that centered not in a product but something that would spark wonder and imagination in little kids the same way that illustrated books do. What about if I could create something beautiful, like a dress, that taught girls about nature, world cultures, art, self-importance, something that while being imaginative, silly and fun at times would also be respectful of their growing intellect (that is, books that are age appropriate but not dumbed down). That is how I got to the central idea of creating a line of illustrated dresses with storybooks.
I am now, a year after I launched PaperGirl Collection, working on my dream job. I am doing the things I love doing every week –drawing, writing, creating- I am able to understand and apply branding practices into my own brand and yes, I also feel challenged by many things that I don’t know how to do but I feel excited enough to be learning (aka, “the business stuff”).
6. What wellness activity can you not live without? What is one thing you do daily that balances you?
Above anything, breathing. Stopping everything and taking a moment to consciously breath. I like to carve out time somewhere in my busy day to sit down for some mindful meditation. Headspace is a great tool for this but if I don’t have my phone around with the app, I know anywhere, and everywhere I can just stop and go to back my breath.
7. How does style influence the way you stay feeling ‘Beyond’? Who is currently your favorite designer?
By becoming a children’s clothing designer, I am now working in the world of style. I always enjoyed, and now even more, looking at well designed clothes, objects, places. I do have many designers I follow for inspiration but I focus more on individual pieces that I like above the rest of their collections. I look not only at current designers but at style from other decades.
I love simple yet great shapes, I admire craftmanship, I love interesting details and textiles, and, above all originality. This does not mean expensive or found in a shop. I find these qualities also in other places: antique children clothes, dresses from other times and cultures, textiles and crafts from around the world, toys, ceramics, nature. I collect all these visuals in my head and it is what I use as inspiration for the things I design.
In regards of my own style, for Summer I prefer interesting prints, I buy clothes with simple silhouettes and interesting prints, I collect ethnic textiles and love printed simple cotton shirts and dresses: Marimekko, Roberta Roller Rabbit (my Summer staple) and quality wools for Winter (love Eileen Fisher sweaters!). I love vintage clothes from the 60’s. I pay a lot of attention to my accessories, they are really the best way to add variation, uniqueness and personal style to clothes.
Full disclosure: I work PaperGirl from my home office so here the dress code is obviously much more relaxed than when I have appointments.
Favorite Spots that Embody The Beyond Mom:
Beyond Cocktails and/or Food:
Fresh green juice/smoothie is my favorite healthy pick-me-up. There is a juice truck near Columbia University that makes it perfect at a reasonable price (plus I don’t have to wash my juicer to enjoy it!).
I am from Mexico, so I have a soft spot for spicy food. I love cooking it so I buy Mexican ingredients at Tepeyac Grocery on E103 and Lexington to cook at home or go to my friend’s yummy, authentic Mexican restaurant Fonda in Chelsea.
My favorite activities are long walks (when my friend and I turned 40 we walked 150 miles in a weeklong trek in the north of Spain!).
In NYC Riverside and Central Park are my favorite walking places.
For short burst of energy, I prefer playing tag and soccer with my daughter above any loud-music class at the gym.
I don’t like digging in stores, I am more about having few special things: a mix of unique fun things, quality things.
I sorely miss Takashimaya.
For special gifts I always go John Derian store on E. 2nd Street.
For windows, service and high-quality beautiful pieces, nothing beats Bergdorf-Goodman, where my collection of little girl dresses will debut next Spring.