Profile: Kelsey Perry of duoFIT
Kelsey Perry is a KC local with entrepreneurship in her blood. Quite literally. She comes from a family of entrepreneurs across fashion and fitness– so it is not surprising that she is now launching a business that sits right in the center of those two industries. Meet duoFIT, a Maternity Activewear line.
Maternity is different for every woman but what they have in common, is a body that is changing every day. Kelsey set out to empower these women in their new bodies by creating an activewear line that supports them from their first trimester all the way through postpartum.
You have been a part of multiple strong businesses right here in Kansas City. What is it about this city that fuels you as an entrepreneur?
Kansas City embodies and provides everything that fuels me as an entrepreneur! This city is vibrant with an entrepreneurial spirit, endless support and resources, philanthropic visions and familial entrepreneurial ties here (Thanks, fam!). My parents both started their companies here, and both of my siblings recently moved back to start companies. My brother is even filming a documentary about the history of Kansas City.
Outside of my family, there's an incredible community of women business owners that share advice, support and connections. I couldn’t imagine starting duoFIT anywhere else!
Exactly- so tell us a bit about your background and what brought you to the conception (pun intended) of duoFIT Activewear.
At duoFIT, we use puns like “due date” instead of “launch date” and “push present” for “discount code,” so you are speaking our language!
I come from a family of entrepreneurs, so I always knew that I wanted to start a business of my own. I was able to see the personal fulfillment and success that owning a business could bring, but also understood the sacrifice and commitment it takes to start something and build it from the ground up. I also knew it came down to finding the right thing.
To start and run my own successful business, I had three requirements; something I was passionate about, something that solved a problem and something that served a purpose. That’s where duoFIT comes in. I’m a mom of two and had two pregnancies that were relatively easy, yet made me feel incredibly disconnected from my body. I felt out of control until I would workout. Each time I had the opportunity to lift weights or take a fitness class, I felt connected to my body again in that moment, but the biggest obstacle to making this happen was the lack of effective maternity activewear.
This disconnect motivated me to start duoFIT! I want to solve my problems for other women to help them stay motivated during their pregnancy and postpartum. I wanted to provide a line of maternity activewear where our leggings pass the “squat test” and leave us “sweaty butt print” free, a nursing sports bra with actual support and pieces that are practical and comfortable for pregnancy and beyond.
In my opinion, fitness is a great practice for life and business. Always playing between digging in to get stronger and evolve but also being patient with growth. What role does fitness play in your life as a mother, entrepreneur and empowered female?
For me, fitness is my “go-go juice” and working out is critical for my mental clarity, especially while running a business. The pressure builds and it’s all on you– similar to being a mom. Working out helps relieve some of that pressure and gets me out of my head for a few hours a day. It’s also an opportunity to be an example for my kids. I want my kids to have a healthy relationship with their bodies. So many of us have faced body image issues. I started dieting at the age of 15 and was always striving for an unattainable body, and I still struggle with negative self-talk.
It wasn’t until I became a mother to my daughter, Carter, that I had to seriously take a look at my internal dialogue and self-image and realize the potential effect it could have on her. I want my kids to know they are always exactly who they need to be. As a parent and a woman who has been through pregnancy and postpartum, I want women to know they are strong, perfect, capable and have the potential to change the way the next generation sees themselves.
I think we share a mutual love for the female entrepreneurship community. But more specifically, the one right here in KC. What is it about this community that is so special to you?
The female entrepreneurship community in Kansas City is the sh*t! This group of women have truly created a new way of doing business; they create real relationships, support each other, show up and offer advice. The first thing I did when I decided to move forward with duoFIT was to schedule coffee dates with the business babes that I admire the most to get insights, ask questions and (selfishly) hear them say, “You got this!” (Sarah, I think you were the first coffee meeting I scheduled.) The network of female entrepreneurs is so strong and diverse. You see these women become friends who celebrate your successes and cheer you on when you hit a speed bump. It’s just so cool.
Speaking of empowering women, you are working with Rightfully Sewn. Tell us more about this Kansas City based initiative and why you found it important to work together?
Rightfully Sewn is not only a partner of duoFIT, but also an incredible Kansas City-based organization that’s all about inclusivity and something bigger than themselves. They empower women by offering seamstress training to place these women in the local job market, as well as creating small-batch production for brands like mine, keeping everything in Kansas City. Rightfully Sewn was there every step of the way, from my attempts at design to the endless pages of patterns and finally to making the launch of the finished product possible.
There are athleisure lines popping up everywhere. What details did you think we're missing in the market for women in maternity and what sets duoFIT apart?
Maternity wear isn't a priority for most large athletic brands because it won't drive sales as well as traditional athletic wear. From a timeline perspective, nine months of pregnancy isn’t very long, shortening the selling window. For me, though, this window was a huge part of my life.
I have been a fitness instructor for 3.5 years, and during that time I saw many pregnant women purchase activewear one to two sizes bigger and try to stretch the waistband over their bump. The duoFIT team started researching the market further and found that on average, pregnant women will spend more than $100 on the wrong size of leggings that aren’t designed for pregnancy, resulting in a poor fit that slides down and don’t offer any support.
duoFIT is designed for performance and like a mother, is made to support, endure and sweat with you. My goal with duoFIT is to craft each piece with intention and support a woman through all steps of pregnancy, making sure not to forget about everything that happens after the baby.
So to wrap it all up, let’s get into the details. What can people expect from duoFIT?
Our high-style, high-performance line includes leggings, tanks and nursing sports bras, all designed with your changing body in mind.
The tops are made with performance-grade materials and some of them are designed for easy nursing access if a woman chooses to breastfeed. duoFIT leggings have put an end to the saggy crotch of too big leggings and sheer leggings that aren’t squat proof. Our leggings also feature an adjustable band that wraps around your low back and increases the support under your bump, giving it a little hug.
The nursing sports bras offer the same quality fabric and attention to detail with nursing clips anchored in the straps to ensure they stay sturdy and maintain the support for the ‘gals’ during your workout or multiple feedings. There is even a place to put reusable or disposable nursing pads.
The entire duoFIT line is constructed from a breathable, moisture-wicking fabric to keep you comfy during intense workouts and weekend strolls alike. It has all of the support, and none of the B.S.