Online women’s clothier tries on brick-and-mortar store in Short Pump

Mark A. Carlson

Erma Jean co-founders and sisters Lauren Llewellyn, left, and Katelyn Peretti. (Photos courtesy of Erma Jean)

Prompted in part by a pivot it made earlier in the pandemic, a 2-year-old local online retailer is going brick-and-mortar in Short Pump.

Erma Jean, which also sells shoes and accessories, plans to open Jan. 29 at 11741 W. Broad St. in The Shoppes at Westgate.

The 1,200-square-foot shop was previously home to another women’s clothing store called Dress Society Boutique.

Co-founders and sisters Lauren Llewellyn and Katelyn Peretti launched Erma Jean online in November 2019. The expansion into a physical storefront comes as the culmination of a pandemic-prompted shift into pop-ups, trunk shows and personalized shopping experiences.

“Looking back, that was a point in our business where we decided to pivot our direction and started to find ways to still reach women, not just online, during that time they could no longer go to the stores to shop,” Llewellyn said. “Going to a brick-and-mortar felt like the next step for us in order to scale and try to reach more women in a bigger way.”

Added Peretti, “I think we kept finding during those trunk shows that just being in the same place, shopping and helping other women, was our sweet spot.”

Erma Jean, an online women’s clothing retailer, plans to open a brick-and-mortar store in late January at 11741 W. Broad St. in Short Pump.

Erma Jean offers more than 45 brands, among them Dress Forum, KanCan, Bamboo, Soda and Staccato. The company expects to offer additional brands with the opening of the store.

“We have focused on curating what we feel like are the best quality brands that allow us to offer them at a price point we think is reasonable,” Llewellyn said.

The company’s website offers dresses that run about $50 to $60, tops that cost $30 to about $50 and jeans come in at about $45.

Erma Jean owes its name to the sisters’ fashionable and entrepreneurial grandmother.

“She also had this same interest in fashion and she worked most of her life in a women’s apparel store by day and in the evening she found ways to continue to support women through offering painting classes and crafting,” Llewellyn said of their grandmother. “She was all about empowering women to be creative and be confident. It was just fitting because we were trying to do the same thing.”

Llewellyn splits her time between Erma Jean and a gig with public relations firm Padilla. Peretti works at Erma Jean full-time, and was previously an elementary school teacher in Tennessee.

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