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Glamazon Amanda Perna had not one, but two runs on “Project Runway.”
She parlayed that media momentum into the launch of two color-splashed lines, Neon Bohemians and House of Perna (which got a coveted nod of approval from fashion industry bible “Women’s Wear Daily”).
“I think with Project Runway you get exposure that is hard to come by on your own,” the Delray Beach-based fashion designer told the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “I think it’s a launch pad if you play your cards right.”
Now Perna — who competed in 2011 and 2015 — is opening A Little Wyld, a contemporary children’s and lifestyle boutique in the busy-buzzy Pineapple Grove neighborhood in downtown Delray Beach.
Before that there were collaborations with Neiman Marcus and a children’s book created with hubby Solomon Strul titled “F is for Fashion.”
She still has her studio/atelier a few blocks away in Artist’s Alley.
Perna, who was born in Fort Lauderdale and grew up in Coral Springs, lives in Delray Beach. She and Strul have a 5-year-old daughter, Stella.
On Monday, the day before A Little Wyld had its grand opening, we caught up with Perna.
What will people find at A Little Wyld?
“We have cool gifts like not just for kids, but also for women. It can be a place even if you don’t have a kid we want you to feel welcome and calm and enjoy. What we tried to do is make it a little Florida-centric, but not, you know, cheesy Florida. You know, just a little sassy. We have things that are $5 up to $500. So, anybody can find a little something and walk out and feel special. And we put a lot of focus on the packaging. We have a lot of really fun packaging, different papers and like even our boxes are [faux] crocodile embossed.”
Why a children’s boutique?
“The thing is there is not a children’s store in Delray Beach. We have so many kids, more young families are moving here from L.A. and New York every single day. And then, you know, during the pandemic, like a lot of us, obviously didn’t go anywhere. We’re maybe not buying things for ourselves, but your kids are growing. They need things. And I think it’s like we just wanted to create someplace that felt happy.
“And there’s so many kids here. I was watching people walk up and down the street, so many kids, and I was like, where are they going to shop? Online? Online may not work for kids because you want to touch and feel — especially kids, who are picky about materials. So we have a spot where you can come and touch and feel. And a lot of us love shopping local.”
In addition to your designs for children and their mothers, you also have carefully curated small artisanal and sustainable brands that fit in with your sunny and whimsical design aesthetic, right?
“I think that everybody has that inner child. You just want a little bit of that to come out. So that’s what we’re trying to get across. And even with our merchandise for women, it’s all a little fun and playful and whimsical because…especially right now there’s so much to be worried about and stressed about and scared about. So if we can give you a happy little place with a pink door, that you can come and forget about the world for a minute, then that’s our job.”
So what percentage of the merchanise here now is by you?
“I would say 20%. [We’re] adding more. Like we’re gonna bring in some of our House of Perna clothes, some of the nicer pieces as people are starting to re-emerge a little bit now and things are happening. We really wanted it to be like a celebration of the things that I usually do but also really cool brands that you can’t find somewhere else but that deserve a shot.”
There’s a lot of customization too, right?
“I just think, you know, especially nowadays, we all want something a little special. We can even customize these little tents for people, put pompoms and tassels or tulle. On our bags and accessories I’ve been doing all of the patches and embroidery and stuff, so we’re gonna have a lot of that. So if you want to give a gift, and you want something special, we can personalize it for you. We have brands from all over the world. We have Spain, we have the Netherlands, we have candles coming from Germany and just trying to support artisans’ smaller brands as much as we can.”
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Why is the boutique called Wyld with a Y?
“I like things that are a little different. We went to a ‘Y’ because it’s just a little quirky. We wanted it to be like a fun working place, not so serious. And we named it A Little Wyld because we really think everyone should be a little wild and you want a little bit of that to come out.”
What about this location? Why here?
“So this was one of those if-you-give-me-a-billion-dollars and you said pick a space in Delray Beach that you want, I would have picked this one every single time. Thankfully, it wasn’t a billion. One of my friends had this spot. It used to be Kismet [Vintage] years ago. We thought that if we stay in Pineapple Grove, there are a lot of great restaurants here and now with the Ray Hotel opening there’s even more. I think that was kind of the thing that made us move quick when this space became available on this block…we just it felt was so bright and inviting. There’s parking, so for moms and kids especially you don’t need to be dragging your kid up and down the street looking for parking. There’s parking a few feet away and across the street. There’s a small lot right there. There’s the big lot [nearby]. We’re just kind of central to everything.”
Did you ever foresee this happening because of “Project Runway?”
“Look at some people like a Christian Siriano or a Michael Costello who have exploded on ‘Project Runway’ and then there some people you never hear from again. I think it’s like anything, taking the cards that you are dealt and making it the best that you can. Because, you know, I could have cried that I didn’t win, but instead I was like, no, I’m going to take this launch pad and this opportunity to really build something beautiful.”
- A Little Wyld is in the Pineapple Grove Arts District at 157 NE Second Ave., Delray Beach.
- As of now, the store is open 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays and 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Thursdays to Saturdays.