If you've never perused Folli Follie's assortment of drool-worthy jewelry, handbags and accessories, then you're missing out. Since 1982, the Grecian-based brand has delivered a stunning assortment of goods that appeal to a posh, cosmopolitan crowd. Which means you can find a distinct Folli Follie presence across the globe, from London to Dubai to Tokyo.
We caught up with the brand's North American president, Leela Petrakis, on everything from her first job in Greece to the boldest career risk she's ever taken. So go ahead—read on to hear from this trendsetter at work now!
What was your first job?
My family owned a department store in Greece and my first job was to man the elevators.
How did you get started in your career?
I was born into this career. Since I was 7 years old, I always spent time in my family's department store. This is when I started to fall in love with fashion, luxury and beauty
What is a typical day like for you?
Typically, I wake up early, before 6:30 a.m. I use this uninterrupted time to catch up on my emails, before having breakfast with my daughter. After I see her off to school, I head to the office, usually by 8:30 a.m. We're an international company working across various times zones, so my morning is usually spent on conference calls to Greece and London. Throughout the rest of the day, I try to have at least one touch point with each of the various heads of departments and I visit our stores at least once per week. On a good week, I will get in at least four workouts and evenings are reserved for my family (and I still sneak in a few hours of work).
Tell us about your office décor. When did you last give your office a makeover?
I gave my office a full makeover about a year ago, and I still make small changes very often. Overall, I prefer a clean look. Everything is white and simple and the decoration is our beautiful jewelry and brand visuals which inspire me when I am working.
Do you have a workspace at home? How does it differ from your official office?
I do, but I've created a more intimate space with lots of family pictures and cards so it feels like home!
What's the best part of your job?
Interacting with our team. I feed off the energy from my environment –I am what you would call an extrovert; I thrive on exchange of ideas and on making things happen.
What jewelry trends are catching on this summer? And which jewelry trends do you hope never to see again?
You can expect to see deep blue colors and silver which are some of the biggest trends this year. We also see more women choosing rose gold and layering different pieces that all together tell a story.
What's your go-to piece of jewelry?
Our Heart4Heart necklaces. I love it because Heart4Heart is our iconic motif with four hearts; each one of them has a special meaning: Love, beauty, hope and promise.
What is the best piece of advice you've ever received?
Make sure your brand tells a story, and make sure your team knows the story.
Who are some of your career heroes?
The founders of our company are my career heroes. They have created a highly successful global fashion and jewelry company through creativity, risk-taking and hard work. My parents have also been career heroes for me. My dad instilled a strong work ethic in me since I was a kid, and my mom started a new career in her early 50s that taught me stereotypes are just that and risks are always worth taking.
What's the most daring career risk you've ever taken at work?
I have probably taken more than one—usually risks should be calculated but should also rely on your gut. I took a risk when I decided to leave Greece and the family business behind. I have grown my career by never being afraid of change and taking the risks that are inherent in turning a business around and creating a new future for a company.
Finish the sentences below…
Today for lunch I had… grilled chicken and Greek yogurt.
The first website I log onto every day is… WWD.
My usual Starbucks order is… ice triple grande cappuccino.
If I wasn't doing this job, I would… be carving driftwood.
Instagram or Twitter… Instagram.
My favorite place to visit is… Greece of course.
List five things that are on your desk right now… Links of London silver keepsake box, mirror, SoulCycle candle, YSL lipstick and Nespresso dark chocolate squares.
My must-have accessory is… my Folli Follie Nomad tote bag–the structured shape and smooth leather finish is durable and holds everything.