Hello everyone! So, we’ve noticed that there are a lot of new people following us lately and we are so happy meet you! We’d like to take the time to share more about us and give you a little background on where we came from. For this we decided to interview our head designer and founder of The House of Perna, Amanda Perna!
So Amanda, when did you realize that entrepreneurship was something you wanted to pursue?
When I was in high school I used to decorate and sell notebooks, tie dye shirts and cut up jeans, but I never really knew that I wanted to be an entrepreneur. When I went to college, at the age of 19, I started a fashion brand with a friend. I became obsessed with the idea of being able to create things that other people could use in their lives.And how did you know that fashion was your calling, what does fashion mean to you?
I didn’t realize until I took a sewing class in college that it was something I was even able to pursue as a career. I felt so much joy in making things and having people wear them. In fashion we help people express themselves without them even having to say a word. We create clothing that is part of huge events in people’s lives like birthdays, weddings, first dates. We get to be part of their story by creating things for them to wear.
What was the turning point that made you want to become a color maximalist fashion designer?
I always loved color and dressed maximalistacly. When I moved to NY I started wearing black because I thought it was what I needed to do. I suffered from really bad Seasonal Affective Disorder in the winter and found that when I wore bright, happy pieces it changed my entire mood. At that point I realized that I wanted to make things that would make people feel joy.
What was the most impactful lesson you learned while being on two seasons of Project Runway?
To stay true to yourself, and remember that not everyone will like you or what you make, and that’s ok. I had a hard time on the show because I just wanted to impress the judges so much. But in turn, my plans wound up backfiring because I got in my own way. The pieces I created weren't what I really wanted to make.
Could you tell us how The House of Perna stands out in the field of sustainable clothing?
I think it’s our approach of staying super maximalist stylistically, but being conscious of what our impact is on the world. A lot of sustainable brands create simple, minimalistic style and our approach is a bit different.
And what advice would you give to aspiring fashion designers?
Follow your dreams and stay true to who you are as a designer and create with a focus on YOUR MUSE. It is easy to get distracted when people give you feedback that you are too much of this or not enough of that, but there is only one of you, that’s what makes you special and that’s what will bring people to you.
What do you like best and dislike most about being a fashion entrepreneur?
I love the freedom of being able to create what I want to see in the world. I love seeing people in the pieces that I make and seeing a smile on their faces. What I don't like is that there is no real rule book. The landscape is constantly changing and you are responsible for keeping up.
How would you define your personal style?
Colorful, whimsical and maximalistic.
Was being a sustainable company a forethought when you were building your brand?
It was something that I just did naturally for many reasons. I care about the planet and what is left for my daughter’s generation and those to come. I also started my business with very little money so I had to be really careful about not wasting anything. Every fabric scrap was repurposed and every piece was carefully planned to not waste time or money.
Where do you draw inspiration when designing new patterns or collections?
Different places and different ways. Sometimes it's a color, other times it's a vibe or a time period. I ALWAYS come back to my muses though, “Would she love what I'm making?”.
What was the most exciting and most difficult thing about building a business from scratch?
The most exciting is watching it grow and seeing your hard work pay off. I think the most exciting moment was either putting a sign up at my first studio or hiring my first employee. The hardest part is that I don't have a mentor or anyone to turn to for advice, so I have had to figure it all out the hard way!!
Could you tell us how The House of Perna differs from Neon Bohemians?
The House of Perna is a luxury brand that is made with more complicated construction, fussier fabrics such as silk, and made to be fun yet refined. Neon Bohemians has the pieces that you don't have to think about, that you can throw on and go and stick in the washing machine.
Being a mompreneur always sounds amazing yet tough, how do you juggle building your business while raising your child?
It is definitely a juggling act and I certainly try my best but often a ball is dropped somewhere. If I work late it means I’m not there for dinner time or to tuck my daughter in bed, but by taking advantage of opportunities that come my way to grow my business I can create more opportunities for her in the future.
In 20 years what do you think the fashion industry will look like? What might rise up what might die out?
Oooh this is a hard one because it is changing every day. I hope that seasonless fashion sticks. I love wearing the same pieces year round just styled differently.
Thanks so much for the insight Amanda! If you’d like to connect with her you can follow her on Instagram @theamandaperna. Be sure to follow us on @thehouseofperna to stay updated on new products! We love connecting with you all and look forward to continuing to help you look (and feel) fabulous!