Sitting in the ultra-chic, black-and- gold lacquered Erika Peña store, your eyes can't but go straight to the splendid jewelry that sits beautifully in the custom-made drawers that magically display her designs.
Peña, a Parsons School of Design graduate, stumbled upon jewelry design by randomly making earrings from an old Balinese shell lamp, and the rest is history.
Today, Peña is a multitasking globetrotter who juggles her busy schedule between Bali, New York and Spain. Inspirations from her travels drive her designs, and her sense of style has captivated the ears, wrists and fingers of local stylish women, wardrobe stylists and Hollywood starlets around the world.
In September 2010, she opened her first store, a-soon-to-be franchise, in Guaynabo's Suchville Gallery Plaza, to great acclaim. Regardless of the economic crisis, the Erika Peña store has made $20,000 to $30,000 monthly in retail sales.
"The Puerto Rican woman loves to look beautiful, no matter what the economic situation. She always has her makeup and hair done and loves accessories," Peña said. "When customers walk into this store, I want them to feel special, and let them know why each piece is special as well."
Erika's energy is contagious. When she speaks about her ideas, jewelry line and the upcoming store franchise, you feel you want to be part of it all.
"I decided to have a factory in Bali because I love their sense of jewelry, everything is so intricate, and I felt they could understand my designs. Now, with our bag line, I am using Balinese knits. All the islands have their own different ways of producing the designs. It is quite amazing," Peña said.
The Erika Peña line was created with different customers in mind, using all sorts of materials, such as silver and gold, chains, feathers, semiprecious stones, turquoise, sea glass, rhinestones and even cotton to create whimsical pieces that are showstoppers.
"The average customer buys two pieces, with 40% returning for more. This week, we have reached our 500th customer, which we are very excited to celebrate!" Peña bragged.
Her line has been featured in many glossy fashion magazines, such as InStyle, Harper's Bazaar, Vogue and IMAGEN, and her jewelry is featured in Free People catalogs, Urban Outfitters andAnthropology.