Beauty, bravery, and elegance. These three words accompany the passionate history and heritage attached to the traditional equestrian style, and frankly a certain amount of carefree romanticism. As our minds move from the athleticism of the sport to the moody, ethereal landscape, the scene has been set for a dreamy Brock Collection feature with mother daughter duo Jeri and Halland McKenna. In a digital, see-it-on-screen kind of world, we delight in using the word romanticism; we delight in the union of sport and beauty. We have many collections in our store inspired by the activity itself. The Row’s take on equestrian is always a beautiful fusion of tailored chic and unforgettable silhouettes. For the farm-to-table types, A’maree’s is the stable to store of the same conception: full of life and conversation in an unfiltered, come-as-you-are space saturated with pieces and art that speak to people and passions.
Whether on horses or shopping to find that one missing piece for kitchen decor, Jeri and Halland McKenna don’t peruse, they move with intention. Jeri mentions a typical Saturday “at the barn first thing in the morning, then to a home store with matchas in hand.” Halland is placing the finishing touches on her home in Costa Mesa, which keeps the duo frequenting design stores. Decked in their riding clothes, still smelling of hay and horse, they make their way into A’maree’s where they get that ever-cherished family feeling. The walk into the house, open the fridge, make yourself a sandwich kind of family feeling.
“My whole childhood was spent in spandex and riding clothes,” says Halland. In fact, she’s an outdoorsy California girl through and through — her car repping her alma mater Stanford sticker on its window. When it comes to her personal style, “I’m the queen of a good baggy Gucci jean or Massimo Alba chord with my gap t-shirt and some rad jewelry, like a hand me down necklace. I have that Tom Boy-fem mix. If I wear the dress, I’m gonna wear the boots. If I wear the oversized denim jacket, I’m gonna wear the flats.” Might we add, Halland never wears heels around this beach town. She has an ease about her style, and as one can suspect she’s picked her cues from the best in the game, her mother Jeri. “My mom is my biggest inspiration. She’s always put together and intentional — at Zinc for a tea, for an evening out with girlfriends, on the rigid bleachers at my previous volleyball games. It’s a sign of respect.”
And put together Jeri is. When it comes to her style, she doesn’t complicate things. Confidence is her most identifiable garment, and she’s draped in it. When it comes to clothing, she has an understated elegance in the way she mixes vintage Levi’s and cashmere sweaters from The Row with button fronts and blazers from Massimo Alba. She adapts fashion to her style, not the other way around. And then there’s the lipstick, her signature color of Midnight Bloom from Edward Bess paired with the simple advice she gives to Halland, “Put on lipstick and tackle your day. It’s the slight gesture of showing the world you’re ready.”
The thing about the McKenna family business, just like ours, is the picking up of many roles — including the dirty work. Jeri notes, “I’ve got a dust rag, a steamer, and my boots on the ground.” Most importantly, it’s about customer service and extending that family-feeling to everyone. She adds, “We strive to create that same home feel for our customers, we want them to return with comfort.” She is the proud Boutique Manager at McKenna, so she curates the merchandise at the dealerships; she chooses the rad little BMW polos and Porsche tumblers, keychains, and duffle bags—all the details that supplement your new car. Jeri’s specialty isn’t just her eye for merchandising, it’s her ability to create long-lasting human connection. “I remember my children saying, ‘Mom do you know that guy? You act like you know him.’ I want him to remember me as a kind person, and I’ll stand out in his mind because of that human connection.” It doesn’t matter if it is the neighborhood post man or the family attorney at a coffee run in, she seems to always wear a bright smile, listening ear, and that Midnight Bloom lip that accompanies the engaging conversation.
Adapting to business during the pandemic, which has forced the closure of Starbucks in the McKenna BMW location, Jeri has taken to making the customer service experience better. Knowing how arduous the waiting process can be for signing papers, Jeri will personally take and deliver coffee orders for all those waiting. For anyone that has bought a McKenna car (we sisters currently have one from BMW and two from Porsche), you’ve received the handwritten thank you notes from Danny McKenna, complete with his cell number. No matter who you are, you have direct access to the man, to the family, to the experience that transforms a purchase to a personal relationship. Halland continually offers to help slim the stack of thank you notes due to the amount and her father’s messy handwriting, to which he always declines and reiterates the importance that they come from him. It’s that human connection.
At A’maree’s our clients are our family, and our family is always welcome to our fridge. The next time you’re here, you might just join in on one of the McKenna’s making themselves at home.