#SWAAYthenarrative
Peri Arenas. Photo Courtesy of WebJosh

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.

3 Min Read
Business

Five Essential Lessons to Keep in Mind When You're Starting Your Own Business

"How did you ever get into a business like that?" people ask me. They're confounded to hear that my product is industrial baler wire—a very unfeminine pursuit, especially in 1975 when I founded my company in the midst of a machismo man's world. It's a long story, but I'll try to shorten it.

I'd never been interested to enter the "man's" world of business, but when I discovered a lucrative opportunity to become my own boss, I couldn't pass it up—even if it involved a non-glamorous product. I'd been fired from my previous job working to become a ladies' clothing buyer and was told at my dismissal, "You just aren't management or corporate material." My primary goal then was to find a career in which nobody had the power to fire me and that provided a comfortable living for my two little girls and myself.

Over the years, I've learned quite a few tough lessons about how to successfully run a business. Below are five essential elements to keep in mind, as well as my story on how I learned them.

Find A Need And Fill It

I gradually became successful at selling various products, which unfortunately weren't profitable enough to get me off the ground, so I asked people what they needed that they couldn't seem to get. One man said, "Honey, I need baler wire. Even the farmers can't get it." I saw happy dollar signs as he talked on and dedicated myself to figuring out the baler wire industry.

I'd never been interested to enter the "man's" world of business, but when I discovered a lucrative opportunity to become my own boss, I couldn't pass it up.

Now forty-five years later, I'm proud to be the founder of Vulcan Wire, Inc., an industrial baler wire company with $10 million of annual sales.

Have Working Capital And Credit

There were many pitfalls along the way to my eventual success. My daughters and I were subsisting from my unemployment checks, erratic alimony and child-support payments, and food stamps. I had no money stashed up to start up a business.

I paid for the first wire with a check for which I had no funds, an illegal act, but I thought it wouldn't matter as long as I made a deposit to cover the deficit before the bank received the check. My expectation was that I'd receive payment immediately upon delivery, for which I used a rented truck.

Little did I know that this Fortune 500 company's modus operandi was to pay all bills thirty or more days after receipts. My customer initially refused to pay on the spot. I told him I would consequently have to return the wire, so he reluctantly decided to call corporate headquarters for this unusual request.

My stomach was in knots the whole time he was gone, because he said it was iffy that corporate would come through. Fifty minutes later, however, he emerged with a check in hand, resentful of the time away from his busy schedule. Stressed, he told me to never again expect another C.O.D. and that any future sale must be on credit. Luckily, I made it to the bank with a few minutes to spare.

Know Your Product Thoroughly

I received a disheartening phone call shortly thereafter: my wire was breaking. This horrible news fueled the fire of my fears. Would I have to reimburse my customer? Would my vendor refuse to reimburse me?

My customer told me to come over and take samples of his good wire to see if I might duplicate it. I did that and educated myself on the necessary qualities.

My primary goal then was to find a career in which nobody had the power to fire me and that provided a comfortable living for my two little girls and myself.

Voila! I found another wire supplier that had the right specifications. By then, I was savvy enough to act as though they would naturally give me thirty-day terms. They did!

More good news: My customer merely threw away all the bad wire I'd sold him, and the new wire worked perfectly; he then gave me leads and a good endorsement. I rapidly gained more wire customers.

Anticipate The Dangers Of Exponential Growth

I had made a depressing discovery. My working capital was inadequate. After I purchased the wire, I had to wait ten to thirty days for a fabricator to get it reconfigured, which became a looming problem. It meant that to maintain a good credit standing, I had to pay for the wire ten to thirty days before my customers paid me.

I was successful on paper but was incredibly cash deprived. In other words, my exponentially growing business was about to implode due to too many sales. Eventually, my increasing sales grew at a slower rate, solving my cash flow problem.

Delegate From The Bottom Up

I learned how to delegate and eventually delegated myself out of the top jobs of CEO, President, CFO, and Vice President of Finance. Now, at seventy-eight years old, I've sold all but a third of Vulcan's stock and am semi-retired with my only job currently serving as Vice President of Stock and Consultant.

In the interim, I survived many obstacles and learned many other lessons, but hopefully these five will get you started and help prevent some of you from having the same struggles that I did. And in the end, I figured it all out, just like you will.