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September 26, 2023

Piermarini Boutique offers fashion, way of life

Boutique Owner John Piermarini has been interested in watching trends change and evolve throughout his life. At 22, he owns his own store in Snider Plaza. (Photo courtesy of John Piermarini)
Boutique Owner John Piermarini has been interested in watching trends change and evolve throughout his life. At 22, he owns his own store in Snider Plaza. (Photo courtesy of John Piermarini)

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It’s hard to imagine John Piermarini working anywhere else than the fashion industry. For Piermarini’s first outing as a 10-week-old baby, Piermarini’s mother brought him to the Chanel makeup counter at Neiman Marcus. When Piermarini turned 15, he asked his mother for a sewing machine and created four garments the same day he received it. In high school, Piermarini dared to wear Gucci high-tops and a Kidrobot hoodie. Obviously, he won the coveted yearbook title of “Best Dressed.”

Piermarini, the 22-year-old owner of Piermarini Boutique in Snider Plaza, feels proud every day of the store he built— from the day it opened in 2010 to a regular Wednesday.

“The most exciting part for me is when I see someone on the streets in our designs,” Piermarini says. “I really enjoy that, but I also really enjoy when we make people feel good. When someone walks out of the dressing room and says, ‘I haven’t looked like this in years,’ ‘I’ve never had a dress that fit me like this before,’ or ‘I don’t care if no one else likes this. I like it and I want to get it!’”

Twenty-two may seem young, but Piermarini has exceeded expectations all his life. His mother, Tina, a personal and executive coach, believed in raising Piermarini and his brother Michael in the most creative way that uniquely suited them, not the norm. “I didn’t want to carve their path but let them make the first footprints,” Tina Piermarini says.

When most children still ate paste, Piermarini lived in libraries, bookstores, zoos and art museums. He always wanted more.

Despite protest from Piermarini’s teachers, Tina Piermarini pulled him out of middle school and hired him a private tutor for the rest of the year. The following year, she enrolled Piermarini in The Westwood Montessori School in Dallas, a European program with an emphasis on how the individual learns, not the class.

Piermarini attended Greenhill School in Addison for high school. At Greenhill, he really harnessed his personal style of “you doing you and me doing me.” Piermarini remembers wearing his favorite 7 for All Mankind low-rise, flared, light-washed jeans practically every day of freshman year. Piermarini says, “I was just a young kid who could care less about others thought about my choice of wardrobe, because what you wear is about you, not anyone else.”

At 15 years old, Piermarini began working with Abi Ferrin, who won Texas’ Next Top Designer in 2007 and sells her pieces in Stanley Korshak, Nordstrom and other popular stores. Ferrin taught Piermarini all aspects of the industry from patternmaking to wholesale to retail. When the two traveled on buying trips to New York City together, Piermarini could edit a line down in 10 minutes.  “What’s really unique about John is that he always had a defined point of view so far beyond his years. He has that drive and that hunger and also that gift to make him very successful,” Ferrin says.

After learning from Ferrin for several years, Piermarini designed a wedding dress for his teacher’s daughter.  He was 17. “When I did that, I said this is what I really want to be doing. You look back at a photograph and the first thing you notice is what the person is wearing. To be able to be a part of someone’s life in that way is something I’ve always wanted to do,” Piermarini says.

Only one problem stood out. As a senior in high school, Piermarini felt surrounded by the college process. Like many of his classmates, he went on college visits. However, at each school, teachers told Piermarini his experience already put him further ahead than most of the graduates and classes would bore him

Piermarini arrived in his college counselor’s office with a full speech prepared for why he planned to forgo college. He never had to give it. The counselor simply said, “You don’t need those degrees. Do what you love to do and are so good at. You have an opportunity of a lifetime and you should pursue it.”

With that kind of encouragement to follow his passion, Piermarini opened Piermarini Boutique in a little, 1920s, Uptown house in November 2010 with his mother as his business partner. The first six months felt like a crash MBA program with Piermarini learning to do everything from marketing to merchandising to designing to ensure the store’s success.

The Piermarini mission consistently offers traditional pieces with a twist at a “Dallas-affordable” price point. Customers can regularly expect to find a great pair of jeans, leggings, basic T-shirts, leather jackets and bags and a black cocktail dress appropriate for any occasion, according to Brooke Nielsen, an assistant buyer for the boutique. Only one small, medium and large of each style graces the metal racks and except for very few leather goods, nothing in Piermarini carries over a $500 price tag.

“I’ve produced things before, and I just know how much it costs to produce a well-made piece of clothing. I know that when you go shopping, you want to be able to buy something and enjoy it but not break the bank. It’s just a T-shirt,” Piermarini says.

In addition to Piermarini’s classic yet current approach to fashion, he develops personal relationships with both his customers and designers. When customers shop at the store, Piermarini and his employees always asks about the customers’ individual styles on a day-to-day basis. “It’s all about that personal experience and getting to know someone, because clothing is really personal,” Piermarini says.

Unlike big department stores and other boutiques, Piermarini Boutique makes sure its customers don’t feel intimidated. The store doesn’t display mannequins in its windows for a reason. Piermarini wants customers to decide how to wear the clothing themselves instead of looking at a mannequin and trying to picture themselves dressed like one. He says, “People need to know that we’re human and it’s about wearing what we want to wear. It’s not about trying to be the coolest person in town. There are bigger things- People are dying!”

Piermarini and his mother both enjoy working with the kind of less-established designers who put their heart and soul into their business and check every piece that comes off the machine. “It’s a wonderful experience to look at these designers and see their expression when they finally get into a store, press recognizes them or someone wears their clothes in a restaurant,” Tina Piermarini says. “Some may sell and some may never get there but at the end of the day, the rewarding feeling is helping these designers of all ages and backgrounds realize their dreams.”

Natalie Brady started her jewelry company Parker Stone Designs two years ago. She randomly met Piermarini’s brother, Michael, and admired his bracelets. Michael Piermarini told Brady he purchased the bracelets from Piermarini Boutique, and he gave Brady the contact information for the store. After months of emailing back and forth, Brady scored her first appointment as a designer with Piermarini. Now, Brady is one of Piermarini’s closest suppliers with the two talking about Brady’s exotic designs from Tibet and Nepal on coffee dates.

“John and the store are so supportive of me. Anytime anyone needs something custom like a body chain, I’m first person John calls. We’re in constant communication. John always wants to know what I’m doing, so he can educate his customers,” Brady says.

Piermarini originally estimated it would take five years for the boutique to move to a larger space. It took two. Driving through Snider Plaza in August 2012, Piermarini spotted an exposed brick wall and cool, concrete floors and instantly knew it had to be Piermarini Boutique’s new home. Since its relocation to a more central location, the store services customers all over Dallas from SMU girls to 50-year-old mothers.

Ferrin says, “It’s very impressive to watch someone go from a high school kid to successfully launching a business in a five-year period. I don’t really know what John’s next step is. I imagine he’s going to start his own line. Selfishly, I’d like him to launch Piermarini Boutiques all over the country!”

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