If “Eye” Could Go Back: Jenny Perilla Superwoman

Welcome to 2020! The year of the optometrist. I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on what really goes into our profession and am working on bringing so many amazing stories to you this year! I wanted to start with a story that truly inspired me. I would like to introduce you to an amazing woman with an incredible story that started her own scrubs company in 2018. Since a lot of optometrists wear scrubs at VA hospitals and private practices, I wanted to bring a new side of optometry to the floor. 

Let me tell you a bit about this astounding woman. Jenny is a Southern Californian, married with two beautiful girls. She spent over 20 years in the fashion industry working with companies like Quiksilver, BCBG, and Wetseal. She was diagnosed with Leukemia, and in April 2018, she needed to get a bone marrow transplant.

While at the hospital room in July 2018, at the City of Hope, Jenny and James decided to start their scrubs company, Perilla. That same month, Jenny found and had her bone marrow transplant. As her leukemia relapsed in March of 2019 and she had to get another transplant, this superwoman pushed forward for her company and Perilla officially launched in July 2019. 

Through the ups and downs of being a business older and trying to manage her disease, started T cell clinical trials in September 2019, she’s still running her amazing company and watching it grow. 

All this and so much more, this interview was a special story I had to share. That women like Jenny will always follow their dreams, no matter the obstacles. 

What inspired you to start your line of scrubs?

Jenny:  While I was at City of Hope the first time in July 2018.  My cousin who is a physician in the ER thought we should start a scrubs line.  With my fashion background and his medical experience we thought it would be a good match.  Also, it was an opportunity for me to give back to the people who helped me.  Be the Match and City of Hope. 

How long did it take you to start your business?

Jenny:  We thought of the company in July 2018 and launched in July 2019. 

What do you hope to do with your business? What do you hope to do with your business?

Jenny:  I really hope that we’re profitable so I can give back to Leukemia society, Be the match, and City of Hope. 

Often a lot of scrubs companies will not consider Optometry as a profession to advertise towards, even though a lot of optometrists work at VA hospitals, help with LASIK and Cataract surgeries, and a lot of schools use scrubs for there uniforms. Why do you think Optometry often gets neglected with the companies and how do you think you can help change this? How do you think you can help change this?

Jenny:  Never knew that Optometry was overlooked.  We consider all professions not only Nurses and Doctors at hospitals.  Our athleisure line which is sportier and a bit more fashion was geared towards – veterinarians, dentistry, medi-spas……and Optometry. 

What do you say to scrub companies and a lot of other medical companies that only feature ‘perfect’ models for their advertising vs. strong, influential women (and men) who may not be a size 2 with perfect hair?

Jenny:  Yes that is a challenge.  For our first production – we started w/ just regular sizing – XS-XL for the purpose of keeping our inventory low.  However, we acknowledge and want to be size inclusive and hope in the future to have – plus, tall and petite sizing. 

Do you find that often your designs and concepts change based on feedback from your costumers and the different professions? 

Jenny:  Yes, I accept all feedback and if there is a majority comment than I make notes for the next production. 

Do you find that not having a medical background helps or hurts you?

Jenny:  Since my partner/cousin – is an ER doc……he gives me tons of feedback on what should or should not be on the scrubs. 

“I would tell myself….”