Interview with Alex Perez Demma 04/30/2020
Alexandra Scarlett Perez Demma was born and raised in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. In 2007, she transplanted to San Diego and has been here since. Her shop in Barrio Logan, known as Simon Limon, has (in just under a year and a half) grown to showcase up to 50 local, national, and international artists and creators.
What projects are you currently working on? Our current projects have been focusing on creating a viable business model that depends on mostly virtual interactions and online sales that can withstand any unforeseen interruptions in business. Since we are currently dependent on our virtual interactions, I started a social media campaign, “I Am Essential”, where we showcase a new small business owner or artist every week. “I Am Essential” was created with the goal of connecting with each other, inspiring each other, and to continue to tell our stories, document our experiences, and to disconnect from all of the constant negative information and news. I have also begun making fabric face masks to donate to essential workers or individuals who cannot afford to purchase a mask. As an effort to incentivize online sales I have also been giving away a mask with every online purchase so that we are able to continue to pay our artists every month, as well as cover rent and other bills.
How has the pandemic affected or shifted your practice? Since the mandatory stay-at-home orders and temporary closure of non-essential businesses due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, we have had to readjust our business model. About 98% of our sales and revenue come from in-store sales and events. Our business has taken a significant hit and is now down by more than 60%.
What has your journey been like as a creative/artist/small business owner? I acquired my BA in Applied Design with an emphasis in Jewelry and Metalsmithing from San Diego State University in 2013. Upon graduation, I was one of the recipients of the Wingate Fellowships which allowed me to travel to Europe, study with renowned jewelers, and furnish a small studio in Barrio Logan. While waiting tables for about 6 years and working for other small jewelry companies in order to pay bills, I decided to start my own contemporary jewelry line of sculptural, limited production jewelry: Alexandra Scarlett, which I continue to run today. After running my jewelry company and having a hard time getting the exposure I needed and experiencing the hurdles of placing my work at retail without the necessary financial backing, I had an opportunity to acquire a small retail front in Barrio Logan which would become Simón Limón. The mission of the space was to help other small independent, cross-border companies grow their business and place their work at retail. Upon opening Simón Limón, we were awarded the San Diego William Male Arts grant which helped us cover bills, furnish the storefront, and grow our business.
Do you have any tips for up-and-coming, or rising artists/creatives? The main tip I would give any up and coming, or rising artist/creative would be to embrace failure and criticism. Allowing your fear of failure to be greater than your desire will prevent you from ever truly doing what you want. As an artist or a creative, you will be told “no” so many times, and you will fail at times, but you will learn from your mistakes, and come back even stronger. Apply, apply, apply to everything! You will apply to fifty things to try and get your work out there and you will be told “no” forty-nine times but you will get that one “yes” which sometimes is all you need. As they say, “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. Be patient with yourself, never be afraid to ask questions or be vulnerable, and be prepared to work harder than you ever have. And finally, because of our current climate, build a viable business that can withstand any kind of interruption in “normal life” and be prepared for an emergency! You can easily lose everything you’ve worked so hard for if you aren’t prepared; I am definitely learning that the hard way.
Follow Alex on Instagram: @shopsimonlimon