I am so blessed to have met so many amazing ladies in my life who are my role models and sources of inspirations. As a mompreneur, myself, I love to learn from these business women who know what they want and how to get it — all the while managing a beautiful home, loving marriage, rambunctious (yet adorable) toddlers without having a hair out of place and wearing the latest season’s pouty lip color.
Recently, I chatted with children’s clothing designer Jeriza Peralta of Kana to find out her secrets of having it all… here is my conversation with her:
Think back to when you were asked, as a child… “Jeriza, what do you want be when you grow up?”
“When I was a really, really, young I remember wanting to be a teacher. But I also remember how much I enjoyed hand-sewing clothes for my dolls and making small handbags for myself when I was around the age of 6 or 7, so becoming a fashion designer may have already been in my life plan before I even knew it!”
Photos: Peralta’s unique, but practical, designs for the hip, young, set. Photos by De La Obscura.
What inspired you to pursue clothing design?
“I was initially inspired to pursue clothing design after I took an elective fashion illustration class during my junior year in high school. That was the first time I got a sneak peek of what the fashion world was like. My teacher really encouraged me to pursue fashion design in college, so I took some non-accredited fashion classes at New York City’s Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) during my summer breaks in high school and, after that, it all sort of fell into place. I’m glad I elected to take that fashion class because it really gave me some guidelines in my career path.”
What were some obstacles you faced when starting your business?
“Besides the financial obstacles, it was learning the business as a whole. For over 10 years I have worked mainly in the product development and production areas of the fashion industry, but starting my own business from the ground up was really like starting from the very beginning. I now had to play the part of the designer, production manager, sales person, etc. It was, and still is, a huge learning experience!”
What have you found is the most rewarding part of being an entrepreneur? A wife? A mother?
“The most rewarding part of being an entrepreneur is knowing that Kana is my own, and that I am putting in all the hard work for something that I love to do and that I’m passionate about. I am, of course, a mother and wife first. But, before that part of my life, I was a driven and determined woman with career goals. I don’t think becoming a wife and mother should change that. If anything, it pushes me even more to succeed.”
How do you juggle your time?
“I am very lucky to have a husband that can also play the part of Mr. Mom to our three children. We sort of have our daily schedules down to a T — to be super-organized was a necessity in our otherwise crazy and hectic world. But my husband’s support has definitely enabled me to visit my factory in China and to work the late night hours needed in order to meet deadlines. But we also both agreed that, no matter how busy our schedules are, that we won’t let it interfere with our time with the kids. One thing I have learned in life (so far) is that time flies by FAST and my children’s childhood years cannot be replaced. My children are now 3, 5 and 7, and I feel that these are the years when they need both parents to be fully involved in their lives. Everything else comes second.”
What do you do and/or where do you go to dream up new designs?
“There are a lot of things that can inspire a design. I can look at my children and be inspired. Their different personalities and the different things they like to do can trigger an idea for a new design. Also, one of my current sources of inspiration is New York City. All the different looks, trends, vibes, and feel you get from just 30 minutes of people-watching in this city can inspire me to create an entire collection. No other place in the world will you ever see such diversity all in one area like in Manhattan.”
Who is your favorite fashion designer and why?
“Prabal Gurung! I love how he fuses old world techniques with cutting edge modernity. He creates designs that can be worn forever, but you will still look modern and beautiful.”
What one advice would you give to an aspiring clothing designer?
“Learn ALL aspects of the business. Don’t box yourself into just studying fashion design, but also learn about product development, manufacturing, sales, and marketing. Knowing how to design a collection is not enough for the most part — you should also know how to produce, sell and to market your brand. Take on an internship that gets your hands into all of these different areas. Be proactive in your career, because there is no one else who is going to care about it as much as you will.”
And for fun…
Coffee or tea? “Absolutely COFFEE!! I am trying to get into drinking tea more often, but it has been a very slow process.”
Black or white? “Uhhh, black of course! Haha. When it comes to my wardrobe, black has always been my go to color if all else fails. It’s classic, clean, and it makes a statement.”
Skirt or pants? “Pants. Although I love skirt silhouettes, I can get a little more creative with my outfits if I wear pants. Plus I have short legs so skirts do nothing for me, unfortunately.”
Earrings or bracelets? “I am very into arm candy these days. I will layer on as many different bracelets as possible on my arms… it looks pretty ridiculous!”
Essie or OPI? “I don’t really have a preference, but when I go for manicures I will choose Essie colors for the most part.”
Jeriza Peralta co-founded Kana in late 2010. The name Kana is “anak” backwards, which means “child” in Tagalog — the native language in the Philippines where Jeriza was born. The vision for Kana is defined by the New York City lifestyle as well as a reflection of the fashion vibe of people who inhabit this eclectic city; combining the posh and chic looks of the upper West Side with the trendy and artsy looks seen in downtown SoHo. Kana’s first collection launched in July 2011 and is currently available here. ♥