She has worked to Bottega Veneta in both Milan and New York, Andrew Rosen at Theory and Helmut Lang, the Richemont Group, and Chanel.
Fashionable & Proud
“I am not a fan of the clicky mentality where everyone looks the same, dresses the same, has the same things. I love people watching and New York provides plenty of that. I also have a love/hate relationship with the pace here”Grace
From working in fashion to hospitality, and now design, Grace Brea is an industry veteran with more than experience to go around. Currently serving as the Brand Experience Director for both Artemest, a luxury Italian furniture and handmade decor company, and jewelry brand IPPOLITA, Brea has worked with the like of Bottega Veneta in both Milan and New York, Andrew Rosen at Theory and Helmut Lang, the Richemont Group and Chanel. The Miami native grew up in Latin America, went to school in Boston, and did her last semester in Paris. We had a chance to chat with Grace about how she’s gotten where she is today.
How did you start your career?
I had a wonderful mentor who really helped open doors early in my career when I wanted to make the jump to client side (I was working for WPP at the time). She was involved with Tom Ford in the creation of the Gucci Group in the 90s. I had lived/worked in three different markets by then and spoke five languages, which I think also helped open some doors.
You have worked with luxury in Fashion, Hospitality and now Design and Jewelry. What are the trends you see for a successful relationship with customers in the next 5 years?
The importance of placing the client experience at the forefront of every interaction can’t be overstated. A decent product, design, and price point will bring someone to your brand once. But it’s the small details from that moment on that keep them coming back. Or not. There will always be a newer, shinier something popping up, but if a client can recall their experience with your brand fondly, it will keep them coming back. A lot of the decline in retail comes from that oversight.
” I spend more time curating the spaces around me than I do on myself, but like I said I love beautiful, well-crafted things which translate into how I dress. I’d say I’m for the most part minimal. Super feminine. Very into accessories, particularly earrings”Grace
You have lived in different countries working in the fashion industry. Tell us a lesson you have learned from each different type of culture?
From the French, I learned to value and treasure beauty. From Italians, I learned a lot of patience, but most importantly the quality of life. Latin America I learned to multitask (a bit too much maybe). I also get all my heart and soul, my values and priorities from Latin culture. I couldn’t be more proud to be Latin.
What fuels you to live life?
Beautiful things and beautiful moments. Beauty elevates our experience here in the world. It excites the soul. That’s why when we see something beautiful (a baby, a painting, a building, a piece of furniture) we can’t help but smile a little. I also think it’s inevitable to have a deep appreciation for life when you travel throughout so many underdeveloped countries and see firsthand just how good we have it. How lucky we are solely because of where we born.
What do you do to slow down and relax at home?
I light candles and play music around the apartment. I’ll steam or draw a bath every so often while listening to a podcast. But nothing relaxes me like a good puzzle. It’s my ultimate meditation.
You are so stylish. Can you share a little about your personal aesthetic? How was it formed? Who are your influences and icons?
I spend more time curating the spaces around me than I do on myself, but like I said I love beautiful, well-crafted things which translate into how I dress. I’d say I’m for the most part minimal. Super feminine. Very into accessories, particularly earrings. Growing up with a Latin grandmother was definitely a big influence. One could never leave the house in sweats.
What do you love most about NYC?
It’s the least homogenous place in the world. I’m not a fan of the clicky mentality where everyone looks the same, dresses the same, has the same things. I love people watching and New York provides plenty of that. I also have a love/hate relationship with the pace here. The energy is electrifying and exciting, but can also wear you down if you’re not hyper conscious of it. I refuse to fall into the rat race.
What are your top 5 restaurants, cafes?
We’re major foodies. It’s hard to narrow down to 5 restaurants overall when I have at least 5 favorites within each cuisine type! New York provides that expansive, ever growing variety of choices it can be hard to remember where you ate last week. That being said, while we venture out to try new restaurants all the time, there’s a few we continue to return to because of the mix of food, ambiance, and friends. Here are some of my favorites right now: Verõnika – the new Stephen Starr is great. The space is stunning (the walls, the plates, the lighting) and the food is excellent. Sushia Yasuda—no need to reinvent the wheel. Estela – It’s in my neighborhood and I definitely don’t go as much as I’d like to. It never disappoints. For Italian, I love Via Carota. I was living on Grove Street when it opened. It’s such a quaint, charming space and the food always delivers. Bistrot Leo is a small gem in Soho by a Daniel Boulud alum. It’s consistent, delicious, comforting French cuisine and has a perfect wine list. It’s also one of my favorites in terms of design downtown.
What are some of your “best-kept secret” in New York City?
For entertaining friends, The Magician at the Nomad is top. I’ve been over five times and keep going back. Its small, intimate, sexy, super well produced. I love working with a recent Italian import (chef Pier Sando) for any event or dinner I host at home. He’s wildly creative and makes beautiful and delicious Italian menus. Hudson River Flowers makes stunning bouquets and their price point is not insulting. They make you want to gift flowers for any occasion. But my ultimate New York secret is getting away often enough in order to decompress and appreciate it more.
Photos: Aline Velter