A physical storefront wasn’t originally part of the plan for paraMi, co-founder Veronica Alvidrez shared, until the women behind the brand listened to the needs of their community.
“We knew we wanted to offer our customers a shopping experience,” Alvidrez explained. “When we did pop-up events, we realized our shoppers are tactile shoppers and they also long for relationships and connections as part of that Latinx identity or Latina identity piece that we are fulfilling. So really the idea behind the retail space was to provide them that.”
Leaving behind the vision of an online-only business, paraMi — an apparel and home goods brand that focuses on encouraging Latina women to channel their voice and help shape the lives they want for themselves — is opening up a brick-and-mortar shop in the Englewood Arts District in Independence.
“We weren’t thinking about a storefront,” she continued. “What we didn’t anticipate was for the growth that paraMi has had and the support that paraMi has had. It really built momentum where this was the next, most logical next step. Even though we wanted it to be later, the opportunity came now and there was something about keeping the momentum we built.”
Alvidrez — who founded paraMi with Nayelly Serrano-Dantzler, Erika Reza, and Silvia Marin in the fall of 2020 — noted the grand opening is scheduled for Sept. 15 with a summer soft opening July 21, coinciding with the art district’s Third Friday Art Walk.
Click here to read more about the origins of paraMi.
“This opportunity kind of popped up to us,” Marin said. “We’re scared, but you’ve got to take that chance and see where things go. So it’s a frightening, exciting moment. But we’re all super pumped for it.”
Conversation about the retail space began when the real estate agent for Winner Plaza contacted them about the space after seeing an article about paraMi, Alvidrez shared, right around the time the small business won $10,000 in the HERImpact pitch competition.
“It’s just a little undiscovered gem that we are helping buff up, in my mind,” she explained of the Englewood Arts District. “We had the realtor do research on that Independence area, and I think within a five mile radius of the storefront, there’s a Latino population of 55,000. So we’re just excited to fill a gap. We’re not aware of many opportunities in that area to shop Latino-owned, other than the typical corner store offering staple food ingredients and other essential Latinx goods. So we’re really excited.”
While they are renovating and getting the store ready, they have already started participating in the Third Friday events to introduce themselves to the community.
“We’re going to be able to bring our culture to the people that are out there that may be missing it, may be needing it,” Marin added.
Alvidrez mentioned they have felt embraced by their fellow small business owners in the neighborhood.
“As a person of color, it’s not everywhere that you can go in spaces and just feel welcome,” she said. “There can be this underlying, kind of othering feeling. And I didn’t get that at all.”
The Winner Plaza building is undergoing renovations, she noted, but the plans call for about 15 businesses in the location. Nirvana Coffee Bar and Game Lounge is already open.
“We were one of the earlier tenants,” she added. “But we’re just excited to be part of all of that and see what else is coming into that area.”
paraMi — which will be one of the featured vendors at Boulevardia June 16-17 — plans to continue to carry products that celebrate the Spanish language like their “No soy tu chacha” (I am not your maid) and “Yo soy KC” (I am KC) products, Alvidrez said.
“We realized that culture is not moving along with the next generations,” she explained. “It is in the food. It is in customs or traditions, but not in goods or even the language. So we’re very excited to have the storefront where you’re going to be able to walk in and just soak up your culture, soak up the representation, and buy products that feed your culture.”
Click here to shop paraMi products.
The co-founders are especially excited to be in a location that has events like the Third Friday Art Walk, said Alvidrez, where they can use their space to highlight other Lantinx vendors they’ve connected with during their pop-up days.
“(We’re going) to promote others, to celebrate others, to bring others to the table,” she continued. “So we’re very excited for those future collaborations for Third Fridays and what that’s going to look like. In my mind, Winner Plaza and that entire area is just going to be the place you want to go on a third Friday night.”
As ParaMI embarks on this next big step, she said, its co-founders are applying for several grants and pitch competitions to try to bring in more funding.
“We’re looking for more support just to make sure that this transition feels a little smoother,” she added.