Once Erica Heald knew the fashion look she wanted for her new boutique – feminine, casual but sophisticated, cute and comfortable – she went looking for a place to make it happen. For the 27-year-old entrepreneur, a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in L.A., the spot was Sonoma.
“I love the town,” said the Santa Rosa native. “It’s quaint, but with that Wine Country chic.” After a year of searching for the right location, she’s settled into a just off-the-Plaza storefront at 124 West Napa St. Named Perlé, the boutique has its grand opening on Saturday, March 23, from 1 to 6 p.m.
“I always knew I wanted my own store,” she said. Out of school she worked as a fashion buyer for Bebe in L.A., then learned the retail side of the business at a boutique in Healdsburg.
The product vision was always set. Hot labels like Free People, Sanctuary, Michelle Jonas and Merci Marie. Geared for young women, but looks to flatter all ages. “The goal is to make you look effortlessly beautiful,” Heald said. “Cute and comfortable. Not fussing and fixing all day.”
Above all, clothes that deliver an attitude of confidence. “We want you feeling good without working at it.”
The prices are high end, but Heald makes sure there are always inexpensive options. Thinking like a shopper, she says, “It always feels good to leave a store with something.”
The clothes themselves are arranged by color, a practical approach she takes from her own shopping style. “I’m not a sift-shopper,” she says. Women usually have a palette they like; this layout puts them right in their comfort zone. “It’s visually pleasing to have color stories.”
And if the outfit doesn’t come together, Heald and her staff will let you know. “I’ll be honest and say, ‘We can do better.’ We want people asking ‘where did you get that,’ not ‘who let you buy that?’”
Busy unpacking boxes and arranging the store before the grand opening – don’t even start with the bad cell service – Heald is hectic, but loving it. “It’s a lot of work,” she admitted, “But what girl doesn’t want to play with clothes all day.”
Perlé. 124 W. Napa St. Regular hours will be Monday-Thursday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.