Celina Pereira’s love of painting and art led to her passion for design, but she ultimately found that her aesthetic and value came at the intersection of the two – when the organic looseness and context of art meet the structure and intentional nature of design. Celina and design partner Grant Wenzlau founded Los Angeles design studio OSSO with the goal of solving problems through design, using platforms ranging from editorial and print to art direction and branding strategy. OSSO works on client-driven projects, designs products including a soon-to-launch coat collection, and hosts art exhibitions and other buzzworthy events such as Drink’n’Draw, a night that brings creatives together to get their draw (and their drink) on. Cocktails and crayons? Sign us up.
When did you know that you wanted to pursue your business or venture? I’ve always wanted to have my own creative studio. When Grant and I teamed up, we realized that we had complementary skill sets and that the things we each wanted to achieve individually could be brought to fruition by partnering up and working together. Our goals, values, and vision are very closely aligned and we’ve been able to get a lot done by recognizing and owning the areas that each of us excel in.
Did your former career prepare you for running your own business? Absolutely. Though I may not have realized it at the time, I was very fortunate to work in a boutique agency and wear a lot of hats. I went from Junior Designer to Senior Designer/Project Manager to Lead Designer in just a couple of years. I worked a lot and I learned how to create proposals and talk to clients, how to delegate to my colleagues, and how to manage multiple projects and clients at once while still designing. It was the ultimate training to run my own business, though admittedly I have plenty left to learn.
What has been your biggest challenge to date? The nitty-gritty parts of starting a business – things like taxes, bookkeeping, setting up a bank account, getting legal counsel on proposals, and just business stuff overall. Sometimes it’s a headache.
How do you organize your day to best optimize your time? Describe a day in your life. On a good day I will wake up early, go to an 8am yoga class, shower and get dressed, head over to the studio to work with Grant on whatever the day’s to-do list is. We’ll have a meeting with a client, or take a mini field trip somewhere in LA that’s new and cool and unapologetically instagrammable. Once the work is done, I’ll head home to have dinner with my boyfriend and/or friends. Preferably accompanied by a big ol’ glass of red wine.
What three factors have most contributed to your success in business and in life? First, my family and friends. They have given me pure love and support and paved the way for every opportunity I’ve gotten. Second, my education. I’ve had countless teachers who have motivated me to be a curious individual who hungers for knowledge. And finally, good luck and timing. I have been at the right place at the right times, and the wrong place at the wrong times. I’ve worked hard, but I have to acknowledge that there’s been a little bit of luck as well.
If you could have a one-on-one meeting with any woman, who would it be and why? What’s the first thing you would you ask her? This is a hard question because there are so many amazing women whose brains I could benefit from picking. Right now, I’ll say Jessica Walsh from Sagmeister & Walsh, because she’s clearly a badass and became a partner at Sagmeister Inc. at age 25. I’d ask her “Your designs are bold, and you are incredibly bold. How do you begin the design process, and can you tell me about a time you acted boldly in order to advance your career or make an opportunity happen that wasn’t coming to you otherwise?”
Five years from now I see myself and my company… Being a globally recognized design studio that creates comprehensive solutions for a variety of clients all over the world. Equally, if not more importantly, we will be producing our own products and projects…some of which are already in the works now!
I gave up ________ to pursue my dream: A safe job, and being close to my family who are across the country.
The key to balancing it all is… Make time for work, your family and friends, and yourself. Sometimes you will sacrifice going out to get a project done on a tight deadline, but make sure you are valuing your own life outside of work. If you’re always stressed at work and you can’t decompress, you’re going to be less productive and a lot less happy. Enjoy your life.
My proudest professional moment to date is… When I put in my two weeks at my former job to work for myself. Taking that leap of faith is so scary but so satisfying. And when my partner Grant gave me a framed copy of our LLC partnership certificate, I felt like a BOSS!
LET’S GET PERSONAL:
My favorite place to go on vacation is… Europe. Or somewhere where the language and culture is completely new!
While on vacation I always… Slow down. I take the time to enjoy the food and the environment, and hopefully to get lost and find hidden gems wherever I am.
My favorite scent is… Brazilian perfumes! From the brand O’Boticario. All of their scents are amazing.
My favorite TV shows are… The Newsroom, House of Cards, and Friends.
My favorite authors are… Kurt Vonnegut and Malcolm Gladwell. Different writers, both incredible.
My favorite type of workout is… Bikram Yoga.
What is one talent you wish you had? Music. What a dream it would be to be a prolific musician.
A woman who inspires me is… My mom. She came to the US from Brazil, started out as a nanny, got a master’s degree, and has worked as a boss in a huge company in Washington, DC, for over 15 years. She put my brother and me through college, and she is the cutest!
My favorite quote is…
“Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.”
WHAT’S IN YOUR OFFICE:
Thoughts on Design by Paul Rand, because Paul Rand is the coolest.
Chalk, for the walls!
Pantone color wall – a million color swatches we hung up so we always know just the right hue.
Cetaphil Daily Facial Moisturizer with SPF 50+. These LA UV rays are killer!
And my office would not be complete without… Our chalkboard walls. We plan, draw, erase, and begin again so often – it’s the place where our ideas start to become deliverables.
Tell us what LIVING THE DREAM means to you: Creating designs, products, and anything that you are proud of, that serves as inspiration for others as well. Doing this as your career, collaborating with other talented people who are passionate about the same things and allow you to push yourself and your work into new and bold innovations. Having the time and freedom to be with and enjoy your family and friends. And travel! To have the luxury of being able to travel anywhere and often, having the time and opportunity to explore different cultures and people, whether for work or for leisure – what a dream!
Want to connect with Celina?
Image: [Andrew Gerety + OSSO Design]