As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Clara Andrade Pereira & Blanca Pascual Baztan. Clara is the co-founder of La Pera Projects and the Director of Pablo’s Birthday Gallery in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. She also joined UNTITLED, ART in 2018 as Head of VIP Relations. Prior, she held director positions at galleries in London and Portugal. Leveraging an international network of artists, collectors, and organizations, her expertise lies in connecting and promoting emergent artistic positions between Europe and the Americas. Before co-founding La Pera Projects, Blanca worked for 9Muses Art, an art advising company in New York, as Art Consultant and Development Director. Her specialization is post-war and contemporary art. Before that, she worked for the tech firm ArtBinder managing the sales of the Spanish and French-speaking markets. Additionally, she has held leadership positions in galleries in Manhattan and Toronto. She continues to collaborate with 9Muses Art and acts as an independent art advisor. Blanca is also the manager of a private collection in New York composed of more than 3,000 pieces.
Photo by Thrive Global
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path? BPB: My professional journey in the art world started when I moved to Toronto right after graduating from university in my native Spain. Despite the fact that I graduated with a JD in law, I was always deeply interested in art. I was even a graffiti artist for a while! After a year in Canada working for an art gallery, I came to NYC to study for my master’s, and ever since, I have worked for galleries, as a private dealer, and also in the world of art tech. CAP: My mother is an art historian so art definitely played an important role during my childhood and adolescence, but always more historically or academically oriented. I didn’t get acquainted with the art market until years later. I guess I always enjoy the action more! I moved to London after finishing my bachelor’s in Madrid and that was the beginning of my career in the contemporary art market. Both the city and my first gallery opportunity — which ended up lasting for three and a half years — ratified that interest and passion for the Arts. Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company? Fortunately for us, working with visual artists, every day is an interesting story. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that? I cannot think of a single funny mistake that we made but rather all the logistical ones! I think the most important lesson that we have learned from that is that everything ALWAYS needs to be double-checked (and sometimes tripled). None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that? We have plenty of stories that we could tell; from dinners in Chinatown with our dear friend Joan, who is a lawyer, advising us about intellectual property and trademarks, to Zoom meetings with Spanish marketing gurus Fons and Irantzu. We were also lucky to meet with other friends and art world professionals, and pick their brains about the art world industry, business development, and financial strategy. A lot of individuals have helped us along the way so we will always owe a little piece of our success to them. Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience, what is currently holding back women from founding companies? Well, we can surely mention two very clear factors that we feel are crucial: the lack of institutional and governmental support and motherhood. Unfortunately, there are still many women that in the XXI century are obliged to choose between building a company or building a family. We believe that it is the responsibility of any government to provide a solid protective ecosystem, starting with universal maternity leave, which in the US is not yet a unified reality. Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles? As two female founders of La Pera Projects, we are trying to democratize the art industry. La Pera Project’s mission is to make contemporary art more accessible and affordable for a wider audience. We want to inculcate a passion for collecting contemporary art among the new generations in a way that is accessible and non-intimidating for them. For our collectors circle members, La Pera Projects is a place where they can purchase unique pieces of art without breaking the bank. For artists, it is an alternative sales platform, so necessary for them these days… We believe that if we work together with other people and society, we can really help to change the art industry, just as we have done through La Pera Projects. This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders? We can share a few reasons why any individual, regardless of gender and race, should become a founder: it is extremely intellectually rewarding, you learn a lot along the way and meet fascinating people. It opens your mind and makes you strong for what the future has in store for you. You’ll always look at the future with expectancy and optimism. What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder. Can you explain what you mean? That we are not all rich….haha. We believe that the reality of being a founder is harder and less fancy than it seems. Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder, and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean? We don’t think that everyone is cut out to be a founder. Not everyone is equally equipped with enough responsibility and desire to put in the necessary effort. There will always be extra hours at the end of the day. We deal with incredible levels of uncertainty, and you have to be “okay” with it. Money doesn’t necessarily always come your way and you have to constantly be creative to find solutions to new problems. Additionally, it is difficult to identify when and whom to delegate responsibility in order to grow. Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
Never doubt yourself and the idea that brought you to found your company. Hard times will bring you down but you should never forget what brought you to where you are in the first place.
It is harder than it looks. You always start with a rosy view. But entrepreneurial life is always grey.
To be very patient and respectful with your business partner. There will be difficult moments when you disagree or you don’t see eye to eye. It’s important to be flexible and understanding.
Adversaries will come along the way. At the beginning, you think that you are the only person out there to conquer the world. But other people also have good ideas and sometimes even better means to put them to work.
How cumbersome logistics are. We always underestimate what a nightmare logistics are, but at the same time so necessary for your business success and frictionless flow.
How have you used your success to make the world a better place? We believe that we are contributing to democratizing the art world and making contemporary art more accessible to the general public. Additionally, we are providing an alternative sales and presentation platform that helps artists increase their visibility and meet new patrons. You are both people of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. Some sort of initiative through which, with the combined forces of governments and multi-billion dollar companies, access to free health education and related resources would be provided to all the girls and women in the world. Using the power of media and the amount of data that both companies and governments hold, this movement will come up with massive awareness global campaigns, especially in developing countries, to free women from the limitations imposed by limited access to education, healthcare, and societal or religious impositions. We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them. We would start our day with a breakfast with Louise Bourgeois, an extraordinary artist and constant source of inspiration for many female artists and in the female art scene. Lunch would take place somewhere in Galicia, Northern Spain, with seafood and white wine with INDITEX founder Amancio Ortega. Dinner would be with Elon Musk: he has always thought ahead of his time, and we would like to pick his mind on maintaining determination, perseverance, and trust in business. Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.
Article by: Ben Ari