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Posted on Fri, May. 06, 2005

Ultra-violet person


Mercury News

For the past 30 years, Cyd Percin has dressed herself from top to toe in purple -- every day.

It wasn't always easy. ``There were years when purple wasn't in fashion at all,'' said Percin.

Her passion for all things purple led her to start her own small business online two years ago, at age 63. The online storefront, Grandma Purple ( specializes in purple everything, from the bestselling purple duct tape ($6.50) to purple daisy toilet paper ($6.25), purple leather wallets (from $19) and purple hand-painted kimonos ($400).

Percin calls herself and others with similar color preferences ``purple people.'' It's a niche market that's under-served, she says. Percin, whose rustic home in the hills of Cupertino is decorated with a purple kitchen, eggplant velvet couch, purple vases and purple paintings, believes the color purple has healing properties.

``It doesn't matter if I'm wearing it, sitting on it or looking at it, it makes me feel better,'' said a bubbly Percin. This day, she's decked out in loose-fitting dark purple pants, matching turtleneck sweater, a shawl with several shades of purple and purple shoes. ``I feel energized.''

Deborah Arambula, a Campbell artist whose trademark is painting colorful hearts based on her readings of which colors her subjects represent, says purple is special. ``When I see purple with someone, it's someone who's very creative, very outgoing, very spiritual,'' Arambula said. ``It's a very positive person, very artistic.''

Starting the business was difficult. Though Percin owned an iMac (purple, of course), she wasn't very technologically savvy. She purchased a package from a Web site to set up her online store. A cousin who is a Web developer designed the site.

The next task was finding vendors for the purple paraphernalia. She attended gift conventions in California to connect with artisans and artists to produce the purple wares.

Percin, who also works part-time as a flower arranger and receptionist, spent ``upward of $10,000'' to set up the virtual storefront and stock it with inventory. She financed it from her savings.

Grandma Purple offers 155 items -- all in celebration of the color purple. After making sales of just $1,000 in 2004, she enlisted Google to help her advertise at Thanksgiving. A search for ``purple'' will turn up Grandma Purple's site as a paid search result. Because of the Google ad, sales are up considerably: $4,000 so far this year, Percin said.

As for attracting new customers, Percin networks with a few groups of ``purple people.'' But she never tries to convert anyone, she said. ``You either love purple or you don't.''

Contact K. Oanh Ha at or (408) 278-3457.

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