BTU #247 - Navy Spouse to Founding Perspective Fitwear (Stephanie & Kory Perez)

She told me one day that she thought she could do it better than what was currently being offered. And I said, ‘OK, do it.’
— Kory Perez

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Why Listen:
This is the first interview I’ve done with the spouse of a member of the Armed Forces, and this is a fantastic interview for anyone interested in entrepreneurship. Stephanie and Kory (Navy O-3 currently on Active Duty) started Perspective Fitwear. In this interview we talk about the nuts and bolts of starting a company, including how to incorporate, how much it costs, how to get a logo, and more. We talk about the rule of 12 - how it takes 12 interactions until they make a purchase; we talk about how everything in a startup takes twice as long and costs twice as much as you’d think. We talk about how incredibly difficult it is to get attention when you’re starting a company, what it’s like to work with a spouse, the importance of structure and more. I’ve been an entrepreneur for over ten years now, and Stephanie’s advice and experience felt spot on from my perspective.

About Stephanie & Kory:
Kory Perez is an Navy O-3 and FRS Instructor Pilot for the MH-60S in Coronado, CA. He started out at the Naval Academy, and has been on Active Duty for over 7 years, obtaining a Master’s Degree in Systems Analysis at the Naval Postgraduate School. 

Stephanie Perez is the Founder & CEO of Perspective Fitwear, a company she co-founded with her husband, Kory, with the goal of developing a line of fitwear designed with the woman’s body in mind, and to help their customers feel both confident and comfortable. Stephanie is a collegiate athlete and Ironman triathlete. Prior to founding Perspective Fitwear, she worked in Merchandise Buying/Planning for Macy’s in New York City.

Our Sponsor: 

  • StoryBox- People trust each other more than advertising. StoryBox provides the tools and supports businesses need to take the best things customers say about them, and use them to drive more sales and referrals. StoryBox offers a 10% discount to companies employing veterans of the US Armed Forces.

  • Audible is offering one FREE audio book to Beyond the Uniform listeners. You can claim this offer here, and see a list of books recommended by my guests at

Selected Resources: 

Transcript & Time Stamps:


Joining me today from San Diego, CA is Stephanie and Kory Perez. Kory Perez is an Navy O-3 and FRS Instructor Pilot for the MH-60S in Coronado, CA. He started out at the Naval Academy, and has been on Active Duty for over 7 years, obtaining a Master’s Degree in Systems Analysis at the Naval Postgraduate School.

Stephanie Perez is the Founder & CEO of Perspective Fitwear, a company she co-founded with her husband, Kory, with the goal of developing a line of fitwear designed with the woman’s body in mind, and to help their customers feel both confident and comfortable. Stephanie is a collegiate athlete and Ironman triathlete. Prior to founding Perspective Fitwear, she worked in Merchandise Buying/Planning for Macy’s in New York City.


 How would you describe Prospective Fitwear?

Stephanie: Prospective Fitwear is an athletic apparel company featuring clothing specifically designed for multi-sport activity such as triathlons or Ironmans.


 Where did the idea for the company come from?

Stephanie: It came from my own participation in triathlons over the course of ten years. I was always an athlete growing up and played D1 field hockey in college. I was introduced to triathlons by a neighbor. I was immediately interested and after I graduated from college, I embarked on my first triathlon and I was instantly hooked.

Over the years I noticed that there really wasn’t a lot of gear designed for women to wear during triathlons.  A lot of gear was designed for elite athletes but there really wasn’t clothing for women that were doing triathletes for fun. So I decided to start designing clothing for women to wear in triathlons.

Kory: I knew Stephanie for a couple years before she started the business. During that time, she was doing triathlons and complaining about the lack of gear available for women. She said that she thought she could start a company with better clothing offerings for women and I said ‘OK -do it’. And I just never imagined where that would lead to. But it was cool to see her light up when she talked about starting her own company.

Stephanie: Prior to starting my own company, I had worked at Macy’s in their buying and inventory departments. I also was a Finance major in college. So with that background, I felt confident that I could use those skill sets to successfully start my own company.


 How did you get the company going once you decided this was what you wanted to do?

Stephanie: The first thing we did was develop our brand and what we wanted to company to be. Kory came up with the name. Then we decided on our mission statement and logo. That gave us a foundation to start off of. We then used a lawyer to incorporate the company. We did all of this before we even developed the first product. That really gave us structure and a sense of seriousness when we eventually did start developing the products.


How did you go about creating the logo for the company?

Stephanie: I was on the phone with my dad and he works for a company called Custom Ink. He had inquired with the design team to see if anyone did freelance work on the side. That was how we found Jess who designed our logo.


 How much did it cost to get the company incorporated?

Stephanie: Our lawyer told us that she would incorporate us once she saw a business plan. At the time, I didn’t have a business plan so it did take some time to go through the process of creating that. That ended up being an area where I was really able to leverage Kory’s talents because he is a very good writer. We went to the Small Business Development Center to help us learn about how to write an effective business plan.

Kory: One thing we both figured out pretty quickly was that there no correct “next step”. When we were trying to get incorporated, we were also writing the business plan and figuring out what the website would look like. So we were taking different steps at the same time.

Stephanie: When you become incorporated, you have to decide what kind of an incorporation you want to have. I was able to use my accountant through that process to advise me. In total, it took about 6 months to write the business plan and decide what kind of incorporation we wanted to have. The cost was about $1000. We decided to incorporate as an S Corporation. C Corporation would be like the Coca-Colas and other very large companies. We decided to go one step down from that because having an S Corporation would release us from liability. So if someone ever sued the company, they wouldn’t be able to take my home or car. The benefit to being an S Corp over a C Corp is in the taxation process. As a C Corp, you’re taxed on your profit and your income where I’m only taxed on my income.


 How did you then go about creating the product?

Stephanie: We created it right in our family room. I knew what I didn’t like about triathlon clothing. I used workout clothing that I used in non-triathlon settings and tried to map it over into a product that would work in a multi-sport setting.


 How long did that process take before you were actually ready to sell the product?

Stephanie: It was about a year and a half. We wanted to very thoughtful in the design. So we went through multiple prototypes and designs before we found exactly what we were looking for. With the manufacturer I was working with, I had to source the material. We were in San Diego working with a manufacturer in the midwest.

Kory: We wanted to make sure the product was exactly how we wanted it because if you’re not passionate about your product, you really can’t expect anyone else to be passionate about your product.


 How much money did you put into the business before you were actually ready to sell the product?

Stephanie: Often times people want to quit their job and immediately start your own business. I think that’s the worst thing you can do because then you have no income and you’re trying to get your business off the ground. I kept my full-time job even after we had gone to market up until the point where we felt we were at a point where the business was generating money.

Through the Small Business Development Center, I was introduced to a company called Accion. Through that, I was able to secure at $50,000 loan. That gave us the capital to cover all of the up front costs of starting the business.


Once you had the product, how did you actually get it to the market in a way that people were able to find it?

Stephanie: That has been something that has been difficult for me because I’m more of a finance person. I’m not creative so thankfully Kory is better at that than me. I also leaned on some of my friends to help me with some creative things. Your go to market strategy is very important. You have to figure how to sell your product as quickly as possible.

We go to a lot of local events. Our product is made locally in the United States and we’re a military family so we have a huge American flag at our booth. At those events, we try to engage people as much as possible. I do think the mentality of, ‘If you build it, they will come’ is wrong. Just because you have a website and a product doesn’t mean people are automatically going to find you. It takes stamina to build that recognition over time.

Kory: I told Stephanie yesterday that this company is going to succeed because of her drive and stamina. Just going to those local races and even when it’s not going well, being able to stay positive and engage with people makes all the difference. As you go to more and more events, people start to recognize you.

Stephanie: When I first started, my dad told me to remember the number 12. In sales, it takes an average of 12 points of contact before a customer will make a purchase. Just because someone doesn’t make a purchase today, doesn’t mean they won’t in the future as they become more familiar with the product. So you have to have the mentality to just keep going.


What is a typical day like for you?

Stephanie: I still work out of our home in San Diego. I recently brought someone on board to help me with the design work. In fashion, you have to keep up with the trends.

In the morning, I get dressed and make myself a cup of coffee. Day-to-day, it’s a lot of keeping up with emails and my marketing strategy. I do a lot of work on the website to stay ahead of digital marketing and driving people to our website. I’m working a lot with our designer on our Spring 2019 collection.


What is it like starting a company with a spouse?

Stephanie: We really have to separate when we’re having a business meeting and when we’re meeting as a couple. The line gets very fuzzy and it’s been really interesting working together over the past two years. It’s been really fun and experience both the highs and lows together.

Kory: I was watching downhill skiing recently and one of the skiers was talking about how they were coached by their father. They would try to have very distinct relationships but also sometimes those relationships blend. It reminded me of how we try to keep separate business conversations and relationship conversations but it does get blurry sometimes. The qualities I admire in Stephanie as a person are those same qualities that make her succeed in business.


Kory, what is it like for you being on active duty during all of this?

Kory: It’s challenging. The biggest thing for me is time management. I often work long hours at my job and then I come home and try to help her out with the business.


What advice do you have for people that are trying to start their own business while serving on active duty?

Kory: There are similarities between the corporate structure and military structure. Both have different departments with a chain of command. So take a look around you while you’re still on active duty and appreciate the leadership and structure around you. Note the things that you like and don’t like about that structure.

Take advantage of the opportunities that are available to you. The STA-21 and GI Bill are two great programs to keep in mind. By continuing to educate yourself, you can bring a lot to the table. The military values those education and skills -- that’s why they have these programs. And if you leave the military, take those skills with you into your civilian career.

Stephanie: I advise people that are starting their own company to have a very structured day. Have one week, one month, and one year goals. Really put together a structure and a plan.


 Are there resources that you would recommend?

Stephanie: There are some great podcasts I would recommend - How I Built This is a really good one.

I also recommend the book It’s Your Ship. There are some great leadership lessons in that book.

Kory: I love the book The Power of Habit.


Is there anything else you’d like to share with listeners?

Stephanie: Starting your own business is not easy. Keep pivoting and moving forward as you go along.

Kory: When Stephanie first started doing this full-time, she was working around the clock and really didn’t give herself personal time. I think it’s important to make sure there is time for your business but that you’re also leaving time for yourself.

Stephanie: Treat yourself as you would treat an employee. Make sure you’re giving yourself the time away to recharge.


 What is next for Prospective Fitwear?

Stephanie: I’m coming out with a new collection and expanding our offerings. Our second meeting with REI is coming up and hopefully we will be be in a handful of REI stores coming soon.

Kory: We’re also hoping to expand into menswear by 2020.