Amanda Perna (@theamandaperna) is a true force in our community and beyond. She is the CEO, Founder and Creative Director of The House of Perna and Neon Bohemians, a two-time Project Runway designer, TV personality, best-selling author, illustrator, internationally-recognized speaker, and most importantly, mom to her daughter Stella.
We run in some of the same circles and have friends in common, but Amanda and I had actually never met until I attended a preview of her newest endeavor, the whimsical boutique A Little Wyld in Delray Beach with business partner Skye Dyer. When I finally met Amanda, it was like meeting a celebrity. From following her on Instagram, I knew she’d be sweet, but that’s an understatement. She greeted me with open arms and happily answered my questions with honesty. Amanda is a stylish, unpretentious, inspiring and colorful open book.
Amanda, you are such a multi-faceted entrepreneur, fashion designer, published author, mentor, speaker, co-host of Delray Morning Live, and now boutique owner of “A Little Wyld.” How did your newest venture come about?
I had wanted to open a store for years, but was always hesitant because I was so busy with my brands. After the shut down and having all the galas and other events we normally are busy with cancelled, I had time to think about what I really wanted, and I realized I really wanted a store. I wanted to be able to create a space for people to come, feel joyful, and find something special.
I realized a kid-focused store made the most sense because we didn’t have one in downtown Delray Beach anymore. Being a mom, I know how quickly children grow and need things, so I figured I could help all the moms shop locally here in this beautiful city!
My co-founder, Skye, had also always dreamt of having a store too. We were connected by a mutual friend and realized that we like the same things and have opposite strengths, so it was the perfect match.
“A Little Wyld” is a super cute whimsical name. How did you and Skye come up with the name and what do you hope it represents?
We believe that everyone should always keep that lighthearted, kid-like nature about them and stay “a little wyld”. We love having fun with our families and friends and want to remind people to stay happy and have fun.
What was the catalyst to open a brick and mortar store (during a pandemic) when so many have moved their businesses online?
Haha, everyone asks this. With so many people staying close to home, and so many families with kids moving to town, we thought that it was the perfect opportunity to be able to create a happy corner for families here. We want to foster an environment where everyone can find something joyful (not just kids!) so we have a carefully curated collection of gifts and women’s wear as well.
What makes “A Little Wyld” different from other boutiques in the area?
We have spent a lot of time scouring the planet for small, cool brands that you can’t find everywhere. We have a lot of brands that are made in small batches, woman-owned, minority-owned and eco-friendly.
Because of my background in design, we are also going to have items that can be personalized with patches & embroidery, as well as pieces from my brands that you can’t find anywhere else.
You’re such a force in our community. What is it about Delray Beach that is special?
You are way too kind! I am just a workaholic that loves to help others and spread joy as much as possible. Delray Beach is such a beautiful town and is full of so many incredible humans, and I am happy to do my part to help keep our town special.
You are mom to an adorable little girl. What is the one piece of advice that you hope to instill in her as she grows up into a young woman?
Stella is and always will be my top priority. As I always say, she is by far the best thing I ever made. I want her to know that she can do anything and be whoever she dreams of if she is willing to work hard.
To date, what would you consider your greatest accomplishment?
Besides my daughter, it would be the way we pivoted our business at The House of Perna last year to help keep people safe with masks.
What is one fact that most people don’t know about you?
I was actually a psych major in school and added fashion as a second degree my Sophomore year. I was supposed to go and get my doctorate in psychology because I wanted to help people feel good, but I realized that I could do that through fashion!
As a fellow mompreneur myself, I’m wondering how do you make it all happen while wearing so many hats? Any tips on how to find that balance between family and being a business powerhouse?
It is a constant juggle, and you have to take it one day at a time and figure out where your focus is that day. You have to give yourself some grace when you aren’t “perfect” that day. I have also worked hard to teach my daughter why I work hard and can’t always play. I felt guilty when I missed her first soccer practice because my store was opening, but I reminded myself that I work so hard so I am able to help her have the best life.
What is the best advice you’ve received in business?
To trust my gut and push forward even when it is hard. There will be good days and bad days but as long as you are healthy and safe, you can push through.
What is the one characteristic you believe every woman leader should possess?
To be kind but firm. I’ve learned the hard way that you need to sometimes be a little more firm than you would ideally like, but if you come from a place of kindness then it is much easier.
How do you continue to challenge yourself as a person, a creative and an entrepreneur?
Everyone laughs at me because I am always working on new projects, but I like to keep my brain sharp, challenge myself creatively, and keep pushing to achieve all of my dreams.
How do you define happiness and what does success look like to you?
Happiness and success are definitely different to different people. For me, happiness is being able to be creative and spend time with the people I love and stay challenged.
Personal success to me is being happy, healthy, giving my daughter a great life, and giving back to others in need.
Professional success to me is being able to cross things off of my “professional bucket list.” It’s the ability to share my creativity with others and help make their life a little happier.
What’s your favorite quote/life motto?
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams, live the life you always imagined” – Thoreau
A Little Wyld is open now at 157 NE 2nd Ave., Delray Beach