By Julia Eskins
Photography by Tara West
As the president of sales and marketing for Luxury Life Brands, Yana Perlmuter is well-known in Toronto for her business prowess, boundless energy and keen eye for upcoming trends. Together with her husband and business partner Roy Perlmuter, she has been responsible for launching, promoting and distributing designer products to the Canadian market, including apparel and accessory lines by Ed Hardy, Roberto Cavalli, Ion Time and Deepak Chopra. She also recently showed her extravagant side to the world in an episode of Party Mamas on Slice.
FAJO Magazine visits the Luxury Life Brands showroom in Toronto’s northern fashion district to chat with Perlmuter about the distribution sector of the fashion business and stylish dressing from head-to-toe.
JULIA ESKINS: What first sparked your interest in the fashion industry?
YANA PERLMUTER: I was born and raised in St. Petersburg, Russia. Being the only child of two stylish parents, fashion was instilled in me from a very young age. My grandmother was a fashion design teacher, so whenever I slept over at her house, I would watch her prepare outfits for the next day, from head-to-toe. After we moved to Canada, I started working in sales on Bloor Street when I was 15 years old and from that day on I said, ‘This is what I want to do as a career.’
Seven years ago, I stumbled upon an incredible store on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, called Ed Hardy. When I brought the clothing back to Toronto and wore it, everyone kept asking: ‘What is this brand?’ We decided to go after the distribution and eventually received it for Ed Hardy in Canada – we introduced the brand to this country. Starting off in swimwear, we eventually became the biggest licensee holder for Ed Hardy in Canada. Like many of our fashion brands, we loved it and it was wonderful to us, but fashion trends come and go, and now our business has taken a different direction.
What is your business currently focused on?
Being fashionable is a lifestyle and it is accompanied by fashion lifestyle accessories.
That’s what we’re doing now: for example, we have a Retro anti-radiation handset that is compatible with any smart phone, iPad or laptop. It is fashion-forward, savvy and healthy.
We’ve also launched other products, such as the Ion Time Healthy Lifestyle watch that was endorsed by stylist Philip Bloch and widely covered by international media. We have also acquired the license for Deepak Chopra’s yoga line and a complete line of inspirational writing journals with quotes by him.
We’ve been very lucky and much of this success stems from my partner in life and in business, my husband Roy Perlmuter, who is the CEO of the company. Roy is a true visionary in building brands and negotiations, and I am a high-energy person who has the ability to form relationships with people from all walks of life. They call us Frick and Frack!
You’re always very busy. What’s your typical work day like?
A typical day would start out with creating fabulous energy with my staff in the office. It’s all about good spirits. I am not a moody person and I don’t like to be around negative energy – what you think about, you bring about.
Life is very hectic. When you have a new, hot product and the key buyers tell you they like it, that’s a homerun. But it also means going into production very quickly. So there’s a lot of very meticulous, detail-oriented work on a daily basis, involving graphics, package designs, translations and sales.
But you still manage to do it all while wearing six-inch heels?
Try seven! (laughs) I’m little, so the extra inch makes a big difference! I always say, ‘I’m small but mighty!’
How would you describe you style?
It’s very much a style of my own. I love fashion and follow trends but, I am not a slave to them. Fashion is all about your own, personal style, and I dress and adhere to what’s suitable for my body type, age and mood. Being aware of what you can do with clothes and what they can say about you is the first step in developing good style. I adore accessories that can perfect any outfit, especially shoes.
I love a lot of designers, but I’m very versatile and easy going with fashion. I enjoy mixing the couture and fabulous with inexpensive trendy pieces. That’s what fashion is: it’s about mixing and allowing yourself to play with different styles to look chic and edgy. It doesn’t have to be expensive.
Your company’s mantra is “Giving Back Is The Truest Sign Of Success”. What is the background behind it?
We support over 36 charities. I am also on the committee for POGO [Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario], which exists to help ease the financial burden of cancer for children and families in our province. From large to small organizations, we really don’t say ‘No’ to anyone who asks us to help with anything that is charity-related.
Are there any new areas or projects that you are interested in exploring with your career in the near future?
I envision designing a luggage line that would specifically cater to the fashion-forward person, and my husband and partner Roy is looking into doing a pet line. As you know, celebrities are obsessed with their pets and our contacts in L.A. have already been asking about Ion dog collars and Ion bowls to keep their animals healthy too. We always want to be a couple of steps ahead!