10 Minutes with: Anna Perelman of Stellé Audio
February 7, 2015
We are starting the New Year with a refreshed mindset at Neiman Marcus. This year we’re celebrating women who make noise – figuratively and literally – from fashion to home decor, beauty to technology. Anna Perelman of Stellé Audio exemplifies the women who are making changes in their fields. Not only does Perelman lead this consumer electronics company she and her husband, Wayne Ludlum, founded three years ago, she has also envisioned a company targeted to modern, on-the-go women. Her Bluetooth Pillar speakers have graced the sites of multiple fashion, decor and lifestyle publications, and they were made instantly cool in 2013 at Harper’s Bazaar VIP event at Coachella. Here, Perelman talks to us about her vision for Stellé Audio, what it means to design consumer technology and wearables for women, plus her current obsessions in music and style.
NM: What made you want to start Stellé Audio in the first place?
AP: We saw that most technology around speakers and technology for the home was being designed by men for women. My husband used to have these huge speakers in our home, and at some point I said: ‘You have to get rid of these speakers, they’re horrible!’
People have become very mobile, and we are attached to smart devices, whether it’s an iPhone or a tablet. With that came the idea that, since the technology is now smaller, faster and more efficient, someone had to think about the design process and think about how these objects are being put in a home or carried by someone.
NM: Is your target audience predominately women?
AP: Women have really made a huge difference because of their purchasing power. They’re making 85%-90% of the buying decisions for the home. So, not only was there an overlooked consumer, but no one was actually thinking about how to design for her and with her in mind.
What’s been really exciting about the Pillar is that it this has turned out to be a really fantastic product. From my perspective, women have more criteria than men. So once you meet women’s criteria – it has to look good, it has to fit into your home, it has to match your home decor, it also has to sound good – you’ve also met the criteria for men.
NM: What’s the more unexpected place where you’ve seen the speakers being used?
AP: Honestly, the funniest one I’ve seen was on Instagram. They had the pillar lying sideways on their car’s dashboard. Something had happened to the car’s radio, and so they brought the pillar in the car with them.
NM: How many speakers do you have in your own house?
AP: They move from room to room with me. We have them everywhere, actually. Part of it is because we are always playing with the finishes, and we rotate colors because we want to see what looks good or not.
NM: What are you currently listening to on your speaker?
AP: It’s funny; I listen to Pandora quite a bit, and lately I’ve been playing the “Pink Martini” station. It’s a fantastic station that plays Bossa Nova, some Gipsy Kings… When I’m trying to work I need some calm music, with a nice beat to it.
NM: We’ve been hearing about wearables for a while now. Tell us about your clutch speakers.
AP: The pillar was our home decor piece, where we really thought of how the product fits into your home, and we used accessories for the home as inspiration. But we also wanted a design company that was really authentic for women, and women love accessories, so we took handbags as an inspiration. That’s how the Mini-Clutch speakers and our upcoming Earbud Locket came about. We didn’t make a speaker, and then tried to fit a handbag over it. We really started with the design of a handbag, and then we dosed the technology into it. They’ve become a conversation starter!
NM: What’s your take on personalization?
AP: According to Nielsen statistics, most people listen to about four hours if music a day, and music is very, very personal, and very portable. We took something that was going to happen anyway – someone listening to music, the consumer is traveling with her music – and we just created some wearables that truly speak to who she is.
NM: Who has inspired you, and whom do you consider a mentor? And have you had the chance to mentor and inspire other women?
AP: I find women who are ’normal,’ not superstars or celebrities, the people that I admire the most: other moms that are entrepreneurs, other working moms, my own peers that had a passion and have pursued it. Those are the women who inspire me and I like to brainstorm and share ideas with ¬ and who I know that will give me their true opinion. I’m inspired by the women who have given the female consumer a voice and a choice.
NM: Ultimately, how do you envision Stellé Audio changing the conversation in the decor and tech industries?
AP: It’s fascinating how most of these ideas come from the day-to-day life. I believe that women and design-conscious consumers can now talk about form and not just function. They can talk about loving the look and how it will fit into their lifestyle and decor…as well as the spectacular sound and features.