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This Boutique Is Challenging The Boundaries Of Brick And Mortar

Lifestyle

This past April, Peri Arenas opened her second California boutique with Peri.A; a multi-brand concept store located on Robertson Boulevard. The opening of Peri.A comes after her Veri Peri pop-up shop at the Parker Palm Springs, the desert resort that was founded by her grandfather, Jack Parker. Now, Arenas is banking on her fun, kitschy style and eye for both new and old pieces that can’t be found elsewhere in the West Hollywood neighborhood as her formula to modeling a mini Colette – without the name brands. Colette, being the iconic Parisian boutique known for collaborating with both high-end and streetwear brands for highly coveted collections is what Arenas describes as her direction for the store. “If you come in, I’m kind of like a very mini Colette, without the name brands” says Arenas. “I’m all about thinking outside the box rather than being like everybody else. That’s really what I’m about.”


Peri.A features a slew of new and emerging European and Asian brands like Shrimps, Huishan Zhang, Mira Mikati and Rahul Mishra, as well as reworked or painted vintage Hermes and Chanel bags. “When you come to my store or leave my store, one of the things that I want [you] to say is ‘oh my god, that’s so much fun’ says the owner. And odds are that you will. The playfully chic décor and Peri.A-exclusive merch – like pens that say ‘This Is My Peri.A Pen, Get Your Own” and receipt envelopes that say “Pay Up, Honey” certainly add to the boutique’s aesthetic in addition to the store’s merchandise. “That’s basically me, I love to have fun in a classy way.” Says Arena.

In addition to the Peri.A exclusive knick-knacks, the boutique sells current season ready to wear, jewelry and accessories collections “Like Maxfield, but not as dark” says Arenas. In addition to vintage Louis Vuitton bags that have been reworked and Chanel and Hermes bags that have been painted by a Paris-based graffiti artist. The store’s price-point starts at $55 USD for a t-shirt and expands into four digit price tags for certain luxury pieces.

When talking about how she’s developed her relationships with the brands that she sells in her store, Arenas’ tactic is a nose to the grindstone type of perseverance. The owner tells us how she reaches out to designers she would like to sell in her boutique, shares the success of her Veri Peri pop-up and is persistent in arranging a meeting. “So basically, I would email a brand that I want and some of the bigger name brands want to know who you’ve carried in the past and sometimes it takes perseverance. What I’ll do is email and tell them about Veri Peri and some particular brands would want to wait until I was opened for a few months. With some perseverance, I finally got [them] to see me [in their showrooms] this past June." Shares Arenas.

"Sometimes you go, they want to meet you and sometimes they let you look around and if they don’t like you, they’ll say ‘lets keep in contact, call us next time.’ This has happened, too. If they don’t like you then they’re not going to sell to you. We got them and I’m really happy. We have 20 new brands that are coming in the fall.”

Arenas’ steadfast persistence didn’t just help her to create her relationships with designers carried in her store but with the company that has helped make her branding dreams become a reality, as well. LOVE Creative, the England-based advertising and branding agency that has helped develop impressive campaigns for a roster of clients that includes the likes of Adidas, Nike, Vans and Johnnie Walker, was an admitted reach for Arenas when searching for her perfect branding match.

“I was afraid that they would never contact me because they [do] very big brands. I wrote them an email and one girl found the email and I guess said ‘lets call her and speak to her,’" says Arenas.

"We spoke on the phone for forty-five minutes and when we spoke they said ‘it sounds like you want to do something kind of like Colette.’ And I said ‘oh my god, finally.’"

“Last September I went to Paris and they spent the entire day with me to get me and understand who I was and they keep quoting me on saying ‘Just brand the shit out of me.’ …And that’s what they did, they did a really good job.” LOVE Creative is responsible for helping develop Arenas’ image including the eye-catching Peri.A merch, the look of her site and more.

Peri. A. Photo Courtesy of SoCal Magazine

According to the boutique’s owner, her target market is, well – everyone – and everybody that walks through the doors wants in. She tells us about the countless New Yorker customers that tell her to open a location in New York, “So many New Yorkers come in and say ‘you should open up in New York” according to Arenas, who is actually a former New Yorker, having moved to California just four years ago. And then, there are the men that want her to expand into menswear, “I have so many men that come in and want me to do men, eventually I think I probably will. I will probably gradually go into that, but very small scale.” But as far as plans for the immediate future, Arenas is relying on the store’s not-yet-launched e-commerce site as her pathway for growth and expansion.

“I’m going to be doing a website, that’s enough. Hopefully in [the fall] this will get running, it won’t have everything, we’ll have to start out with 20 brands and go slowly. I’m sure eventually, if it takes off and does well, I’ll have to get a small warehouse somewhere. That’s where the ultimate goal is, to have a very happening website” she says.

If you’re not a resident of Hollywood, be sure to follow Peri.A on Instagram @periarobertson to add some kitsch to your feed and to get notified when Peri.A’s ecomm cite becomes available so that you can purchase some of your very own Peri.A goods.

Photo Courtesy of The Drum

The Quick 10

1. What app do you most use?

Instagram

2. Briefly describe your morning routine.

Brush my teeth, Coffee, Answer emails, Exercise, Dress, Go to work !

3. Name a business mogul you admire.

Jack Parker.

4. What product do you wish you had invented?

Computer

5. What is your spirit animal?

Lion

6. What is your life motto?

What will be…will be!

7. Name your favorite work day snack.

Vanilla latte

8. Every business/entrepreneur (you pick one, then fill in the blank) must be _____to be successful.

In love with what they do and work really hard…

9. What’s the most inspiring place you’ve traveled to?

South Africa

10. Desert Island. Three things, go.

Family, hat, Sudoku.

Culture

A Modern Day Witch Hunt: How Caster Semenya's Gender Became A Hot Topic In The Media

Gender divisions in sports have primarily served to keep women out of what has always been believed to be a male domain. The idea of women participating alongside men has been regarded with contempt under the belief that women were made physically inferior.


Within their own division, women have reached new heights, received accolades for outstanding physical performance and endurance, and have proven themselves to be as capable of athletic excellence as men. In spite of women's collective fight to be recognized as equals to their male counterparts, female athletes must now prove their womanhood in order to compete alongside their own gender.

That has been the reality for Caster Semenya, a South African Olympic champion, who has been at the center of the latest gender discrimination debate across the world. After crushing her competition in the women's 800-meter dash in 2016, Semenya was subjected to scrutiny from her peers based upon her physical appearance, calling her gender into question. Despite setting a new national record for South Africa and attaining the title of fifth fastest woman in Olympic history, Semenya's success was quickly brushed aside as she became a spectacle for all the wrong reasons.

Semenya's gender became a hot topic among reporters as the Olympic champion was subjected to sex testing by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). According to Ruth Padawer from the New York Times, Semenya was forced to undergo relentless examination by gender experts to determine whether or not she was woman enough to compete as one. While the IAAF has never released the results of their testing, that did not stop the media from making irreverent speculations about the athlete's gender.

Moments after winning the Berlin World Athletics Championship in 2009, Semenya was faced with immediate backlash from fellow runners. Elisa Cusma who suffered a whopping defeat after finishing in sixth place, felt as though Semenya was too masculine to compete in a women's race. Cusma stated, "These kind of people should not run with us. For me, she is not a woman. She's a man." While her statement proved insensitive enough, her perspective was acknowledged and appeared to be a mutually belief among the other white female competitors.

Fast forward to 2018, the IAAF issued new Eligibility Regulations for Female Classification (Athlete with Differences of Sexual Development) that apply to events from 400m to the mile, including 400m hurdles races, 800m, and 1500m. The regulations created by the IAAF state that an athlete must be recognized at law as either female or intersex, she must reduce her testosterone level to below 5 nmol/L continuously for the duration of six months, and she must maintain her testosterone levels to remain below 5 nmol/L during and after competing so long as she wishes to be eligible to compete in any future events. It is believed that these new rules have been put into effect to specifically target Semenya given her history of being the most recent athlete to face this sort of discrimination.

With these regulations put into effect, in combination with the lack of information about whether or not Semenya is biologically a female of male, society has seemed to come to the conclusion that Semenya is intersex, meaning she was born with any variation of characteristics, chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals. After her initial testing, there had been alleged leaks to media outlets such as Australia's Daily Telegraph newspaper which stated that Semenya's results proved that her testosterone levels were too high. This information, while not credible, has been widely accepted as fact. Whether or not Semenya is intersex, society appears to be missing the point that no one is entitled to this information. Running off their newfound acceptance that the Olympic champion is intersex, it calls into question whether her elevated levels of testosterone makes her a man.

The IAAF published a study concluding that higher levels of testosterone do, in fact, contribute to the level of performance in track and field. However, higher testosterone levels have never been the sole determining factor for sex or gender. There are conditions that affect women, such as PCOS, in which the ovaries produce extra amounts of testosterone. However, those women never have their womanhood called into question, nor should they—and neither should Semenya.

Every aspect of the issue surrounding Semenya's body has been deplorable, to say the least. However, there has not been enough recognition as to how invasive and degrading sex testing actually is. For any woman, at any age, to have her body forcibly examined and studied like a science project by "experts" is humiliating and unethical. Under no circumstances have Semenya's health or well-being been considered upon discovering that her body allegedly produces an excessive amount of testosterone. For the sake of an organization, for the comfort of white female athletes who felt as though Semenya's gender was an unfair advantage against them, Semenya and other women like her, must undergo hormone treatment to reduce their performance to that of which women are expected to perform at. Yet some women within the athletic community are unphased by this direct attempt to further prove women as inferior athletes.

As difficult as this global invasion of privacy has been for the athlete, the humiliation and sense of violation is felt by her people in South Africa. Writer and activist, Kari, reported that Semenya has had the country's undying support since her first global appearance in 2009. Even after the IAAF released their new regulations, South Africans have refuted their accusations. Kari stated, "The Minister of Sports and Recreation and the Africa National Congress, South Africa's ruling party labeled the decision as anti-sport, racist, and homophobic." It is no secret that the build and appearance of Black women have always been met with racist and sexist commentary. Because Black women have never managed to fit into the European standard of beauty catered to and in favor of white women, the accusations of Semenya appearing too masculine were unsurprising.

Despite the countless injustices Semenya has faced over the years, she remains as determined as ever to return to track and field and compete amongst women as the woman she is. Her fight against the IAAF's regulations continues as the Olympic champion has been receiving and outpour of support in wake of the Association's decision. Semenya is determined to run again, win again, and set new and inclusive standards for women's sports.