Activewear designer Cherri Perkins on fashion, fitness, and learning by doing

Cherri Perkins is a powerhouse.

Since leaving Artesia, New Mexico — where she and I both went to the same high school — Cherri has gotten herself a bachelor’s in apparel design from Texas Tech University, jumped into the world personal training and all things fitness, and founded her own activewear company, Built In Beauty.

The 27-year-old lives in Dallas, Texas, for now, but hopes to move to Austin soon. “It is where my heart belongs,” she told me.

Over the past week, Cherri and I emailed back and forth. We talked about her business, her passion for helping women build their confidence, and the challenges that come with being her own boss.

Elly Gibson: So I like to start off these Q&As by talking about how I met or how I know the person I’m interviewing. Interestingly enough, and correct me if I’m wrong, even though you and I went to the same high school, I don’t think we’ve ever said a single word to each other?

Cherri Perkins: Right! I saw you around high school. I think you were in colorguard? I could be wrong though. I knew you were a year younger than me. We just didn’t hang around in the same crowd so we never actually met. Although, I don’t think you would be interviewing me if I was the same person from high school haha.

EG: Unfortunately, I was actually the colorguard captain.  Let’s change the subject. Tell me about your business, Built in Beauty. How did this get started? What brought you to designing a line of activewear?

CP: Alright, I love talking about Built in Beauty. It is one of my biggest passions! The idea came about in late 2016/early 2017. I worked as a personal trainer at a gym in Dallas (still a PT, but no longer at a gym). All of my clients knew my background in design (I have my BS in Apparel Design), most of them complained about the activewear currently sold from companies. It was only for “fit” women, or it didn’t hide the parts they didn’t like. So I kind of took that idea and ran with it: launching something that would help women learn to love themselves, and feel comfortable wearing into the gym. Most women hate the thought of even setting foot into a gym, so I thought if I could create something that gives them even the slightest bit of confidence, they would be more inclined to work out.


EG: Did you always think you would be doing this? As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

CP: Honestly, yes. I knew growing up I would own my own business, and have a clothing line. I used to draw dresses on like all of my papers in elementary school. Now, I didn’t think it would be activewear, but now that’s the only thing I could see myself designing. It is all I wear, and health and fitness is such a huge part of my life — it only makes sense!

EG: What are some key challenges you have faced so far and how have you overcome them?

CP: So. many. freaking. challenges. Everyone looks at the fun part of being a business owner, like making your own hours, not having a boss, etc. What they don’t see is the long nights and the sweat and tears of the behind-the-scenes. I have a really hard time with the actual business aspect — should have gotten that business degree! So, the creative part comes easy for me. Marketing, cash flow, and the not so fun details of business ownership is a challenge. I ask a ton of questions and look for help wherever I can find it. Since my parents own a business, I ask them, or my bosses at my current 9-5, or I honestly just play copycat from other successful businesses. Fake it ’til ya make it, right?!

EG: You know, I have a business degree and I’m not doing crap with it. Do you have a life motto? If so, what is it?

CP: I have a tattoo that says, “Sometimes you gotta fall before you fly.” At the time, it was from a really dark time and a bad relationship, but I still try to apply it to life. My business is not going to fail, I believe that, but sometimes I have to do things wrong before I learn the right way to do it. That can also be applied to everything in general. You have to bite the dust before you can move on from it and use it as a learning mechanism for the future. Gosh, so cliche.


EG: What are your goals/dreams for the future? Do you have any business projects in the works or product launches coming up?

CP: I have a lot of goals, but my main ones are to quit my 9-5 to run Built in Beauty full time and grow my fitness business. I have a project going on currently with my fitness stuff. I plan on launching a website and training one-on-one clients through my app. It started as a side gig, but I realized recently I can scale this business to help with Built in Beauty sales, plus I love helping people reach their health and fitness goals, but that’s another story! I also am planning a launch on Feb. 15th of new product, so keep an eye out for that!

Cherri Perkins lives in Dallas, Texas. You can learn more about Built in Beauty and shop for Cherri’s line of activewear over at Follow Cherri’s fitness and business accounts on Instagram at @cherri.perk and @built_in_beauty, respectively.

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