You know how sometimes you can just tell by someone's vibe that you have the potential of becoming very good friends? I had this experience when I met Jack Perez at FierceCon back in 2019. I had arrived at this weekend event, having only ever met one person in the group. The feeling that so many amazing women were part of this and that so much good was going to come from this weekend was overwhelming. Turns out, I was right on both counts! After being introduced to Jack and immediately hitting it off, some of the things I loved about her was just how upbeat, positive and likable she is! Jack had already started Kuel Life and we chatted about what makes it so special. I was so impressed that her passion to build a space for mid-life women was coming together - what a big undertaking this was, but the potential was (and still is) huge!
Jack Perez and Lisa Schmitz at FierceCon 2019.
Since that time, Kuel Life has become a powerhouse online community where women can meet, learn, shop and support other women. Jack has appeared in countless newspapers, magazines and podcasts, sharing her own personal experiences and those of her Kuel Category Experts and women-driven brands (Kuel Chiefs).
Jack invited Walking Cradles to be part of the Kuel Life community as we are a women-driven company - proud that all our shoes are designed by Jamie Wells, who starts each shoe design by a hand-drawn sketch and then follows that shoe through every step of the production cycle. Our slogan "Shoes Designed for Women, by Women" resonates with the Kuel Life mission. I was personally honored when Jack asked me to join Kuel Life as a shoe expert, where I submit articles about - you guessed it - shoes!
When I asked Jack to be part of our "Shoes for All Walks of Life" series, she enthusiastically said "yes!" Knowing just how busy this pint-size powerhouse is on a daily basis, we were honored. So, here to tell us all about her journey and how to become a part of the Kuel Life community is my friend and colleague, Jack Perez!
YOU STARTED THE KUEL LIFE PLATFORM IN 2017, TELL US WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO TAKE THIS LEAP.
In my 50s, I began to notice the ‘disappearing act’ of relevant, useful, information and opportunities for women my age. I started to feel like I was disappearing. Or worse yet, the messages I was seeing didn’t make me feel good about myself. I began experiencing changes that I didn’t understand. Weight gain, brain fog, emotional dysregulation…. Why were these things happening to me?
Upon reflection, I now KNOW what was going on…. What continues to go on for a great many of us. Every other person goes through menopause. Why do we not know more about it? Why are we torn or conflicted about our kids leaving the nest? How are we handling our aging parents? The list is long. This time in life can be complicated. Where is the support and information we need to navigate these waters?
I wanted to continue to live a vibrant, energetic life. I wanted to be counted and noticed. I was dismayed that most lifestyle websites target the ‘below 35’ age group. The few ‘age appropriate’ lifestyle websites I stumbled across were riddled with advertisements; making it near impossible to determine where the content ended and the marketing began.
Frustrated with the situation, I decided to do something about it. If I couldn’t find a place that was curated for me, I would build one.
Prior to launching Kuel Life, I spent most of my professional life running a boutique PR & Marketing firm. We specialized in launching start-ups. Given I have spent most of my professional life enabling other entrepreneurs to start their businesses, I decided myself well-equipped to birth Kuel Life.
KUEL LIFE IS SO MUCH MORE THAN JUST A WEBSITE FOR WOMEN, EXPLAIN ALL THE WONDERFUL FEATURES AND BENEFITS OF NOT JUST VISITING THE SITE, BUT BY BECOMING A MEMBER.
First and foremost, Kuel Life is a digital platform completely dedicated to women in midlife and beyond. My original intention was to curate relevant information from industry experts and house them under one roof, so to speak. Three plus years later, the Kuel Life platform is so much more.
Along the way, I have met so many women entrepreneurs. It’s amazing how many women wake-up in midlife. Many women reinvent themselves after 45. One day we open our eyes and realize that our roles as mother, wife, employee, daughter have defined most of us for way too long. There’s almost a sigh of relief when we recognize that we can start over, so to speak. We can follow our passions and take risks we didn’t feel comfortable doing before. Kuel Life needed to make space for these women. So, about two years ago I added a curated shopping experience to support those women-driven brands. I offer women the opportunity to Purchase with a Purpose by promoting products made BY women FOR women.
How does all this happen?
I have been committed to running an ad-free experience for my Community. It’s not easy in that revenue generation has to come from the women in our Community. Kuel Life relies on its members to survive, grow, and thrive. Honestly, there are plenty of perks to becoming a member. Members can:
It’s super cheap…. $4.99/month… and, if you subscribe for a whole year, you get two months free. I know it’s ridiculously inexpensive but I never wanted to make the price a barrier to entry. My goal is to utilize the COLLECTIVE POWER of WOMEN (US) to normalize aging - can’t price women out of movement in the making, can we?
WHAT ARE THE MOST INSPIRING THINGS YOU HAVE SEEN CHANGE IN THE PAST FEW YEARS FOR WOMEN 45 AND OLDER, AND WHAT ARE THINGS THAT ARE STILL OBSTACLES?
When I launched Kuel Life, a mere three years ago, there was very little in the online world speaking to US (women 45+). Now I see so much more out there. And that is a good thing. But we have so far to go. Baby boomers and GenX women outnumber any other population cohort out there. Women own most of the wealth. I am talking about $22 trillion dollars worth. Add to that we make 85% to 90% of the purchasing decisions. (I am not talking brand of toothpaste) When I look at those facts it makes me frustrated that we are still incredibly under-represented in the world. I am excited to see brands like Athleta, Céline, Dolce & Gabbana, Kate Spade, Saint Laurent, Walking Cradles and more finally showcasing women in their 50s and 60s. This is an unbelievable message to both young and old. We’ve moved the needle but we have far to go. This is not the time to slow down or get quiet. We need to continue the movement. We need to rise together and make noise. Once we truly understand how much power we have, together, there’s no stopping us.
YOU HAVE MANY INTERESTING PASSIONS, TELL US A BIT ABOUT THEM AND WHAT A DAY IN THE LIFE OF JACK PEREZ IS LIKE.
I think my life is interesting…. Well, at least most of the time. In full transparency starting and running a business, completely on one’s own is a huge time sink. Did I say huge? I meant enormous. Between my commitment to Kuel Life, the pandemic, and a recent skydiving accident that left me with three compression fractures in my back, my life has been a bit on the “less interesting” side for the last couple of years.
Jack, skydiving - prior to the accident that left her with a serious back injury.
That being said, physical fitness is definitely a passion for me. Jump roping, kickboxing, HIIT (high intensity interval training), and throwing heavy weights around are my current drugs of choice. But, if it’s a fitness thing, chances are I’ve done it.
Kickboxing is just one of many sports Jack enjoys!
One of my other passions is travel. I am grateful that I have been able to incorporate travel into the Kuel Life Community. It gives me the best of both worlds. We are taking nine women to Tuscany in May of 2022 and I can hardly wait. As of this moment, we only have 3 spots left!!
Sharing her passion for travel, Jack's son, Aidan accompanies her on a beachside camel ride in Tangier, Morocco.
HOW DOES YOUR CHOICE OF FOOTWEAR IMPACT YOUR LIFE?
Now that I have matured… and I mean that in a good way, my choice for footwear is driven by fit. If it doesn’t fit well and feel good, I know I am not going to wear it. I admit to owning a few “cab to table’ shoes. You know the kind. They are sexy and powerful but you need to negotiate up front the “just how much walking” part. So while I do have a few of those pairs, I focus on shoes that allow me to function as my best self.
There is nothing worse than sore feet or heel pain if you are standing for long periods of time. Honestly, that kind of discomfort bleeds out into my personality and my ability to think. I now realize how many events I ruined for myself due to my poor shoe choices. Not going to happen… not any more. I know better now. I also think we have more selections today than ever before. Meaning I feel less like I have to give up style or cuteness for comfort. I can have both. Thanks, Walking Cradles.
Jack, totally rocking the Walking Cradles Jackie-2 red patent pump!
HAVE YOU FOUND YOUR SHOE WANTS/NEEDS HAVE CHANGED OVER THE YEARS, AND IF SO, HOW?
This question makes me giggle. Oh boy have my shoe wants and needs changed over the years. In my 20s and 30s my shoe buying criteria was 100 percent aesthetics. If the shoe looked kuel that was it, it didn’t matter the fit. In my mid 30s I traveled around the world for a year and became very aware of the need for comfort and fit. After that experience, my perspective on shoes changed dramatically. Add to that motherhood and well…. Any mom knows that having comfortable shoes is a key to surviving one’s kids’ childhood.
The future is female and the black glitter Orleans is the shoe to make it happen in.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT THE WALKING CRADLES SHOES YOU ARE WEARING IN THESE PHOTOS?
What I absolutely love about my three choices, Orleans, Jackie-2 and Dash are that FUN and COMFORT can co-exist. In all honesty, I haven’t had a lot of luck with the combination. So, when I had the chance to model for Walking Cradles I jumped at the chance. I think I’ve lost track of how many pairs of Walking Cradles I own. The sparkly sneaker style Orleans, the bright red shiny Mary Janes [Jackie-2] and the black and white print Dash are not your ordinary, run of the mill footwear. Each makes a big statement and I love that. The thing is that on top of them being statement shoes, they are ridiculously comfortable. I can wear these for events (see above) and show up as my best self because I don’t need to worry about “being on my feet”. I know I will be as comfortable at 8PM as I was at 8AM.
Pattern mixing works well for Jack in this ensemble paired with the Dash slip-on sneaker!
WHAT IS A MESSAGE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH EVERYONE?
Don't underestimate the power of your vision. Don't underestimate the power of your drive and what you want to accomplish. More importantly, don't cheat other people from joining you by keeping it to yourself. You won’t know who believes in your vision if you keep quiet. You won’t find your tribe - the one that is waiting for you to lead. When I started Kuel Life and I was working on growing the roster of expert content providers, I struggled. I had nothing really to show them… my site was new and barely populated, my SEO ranking was non-existent, my page views were in the double digits. But, I shared my desire to change the world - to NORMALIZE AGING. And, I knew/know I cannot do it alone.
I now have over 40 Kuel Category Experts (with another 10 or so onboarding over the next few months) and over 35 Women-driven Brands. I have learned that it's okay to ask for help and collaboration is key. Yes we all come by competition honestly when we were younger there was one, maybe two, seats at that table, for skirts and if our butt wasn't in that seat - oh, well.
Life is better with friends! Uplifting women is the power behind Kuel Life!
But what I’ve come to realize is that we can build our own tables. Have our own chairs. My table is full of women. I always have another seat at the table. There is always room at my table for anyone who wants to join. Collaboration over competition. And remember: Don't navigate alone you're guaranteed to get lost
Weekly Newsletter SignUP: https://tinyurl.com/KuelLifeRoundUp
We are very grateful to Jack for being part of “Shoes for All Walks of Life.” Her story, her vision, her life and her ability to bring women together is such an inspiration!
Thank you for joining us to learn more about the women who wear Walking Cradles and their multi-faceted lives. We will feature a different fabulous female each month and we hope you look forward to reading their stories as much as we enjoy working with them. Although, is it really work when you love what you do so much and get to spend time with such amazing people?!
Would you like to be featured in an upcoming story? Looking ahead to 2022, we are looking for more fabulous women to feature in our "Shoes for All Walks of Life" series. To be considered, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me a little bit about your multi-faceted life and the various roles you have that make you amazing! We know you have a story to tell, and we would love to tell yours and show how Walking Cradles shoes have made a difference in your life!
Until next time...
Comments will be approved before showing up.