Using the skills she gained from Future Founders’ Be Your Own Boss and Launch Lab programs, a UIC College Prep senior is well on her way to realizing her dream of opening an inclusive gym with the launch of Femenina Athletics, a fitness apparel brand dedicated to empowering women.
Perla Rico’s mission is simple: cultivate a fitness community that nurtures women’s mental health as much as it does their physical health. For Perla, the gym has become a place of healing over the past few years, a sanctuary where she can feel centered and confident in her own skin—no matter what may be happening in her life. She didn’t always feel this way, though; so often, she notes, women are made to feel judged and objectified at the gym, to the point where many choose not to go at all.
“I want to change that,” Perla declares. “I want [women] to walk into the gym [I create] and feel like they own the place, and not that anyone will judge them.”
Perla’s entrepreneurial ambitions inspired her to get involved with Future Founders. As a participant in the Spring 2022 Be Your Own Boss Virtual Internship, Perla practiced skills she knew would serve her well on her journey: collaboration, idea generation, prototyping, and pitching. She then applied those skills as part of Future Founders’ inaugural Launch Lab program in Summer 2022, which culminated in the launch of her business.
In her final pitch presentation, Perla explained how she intends to use the proceeds from Femenina to help establish her gym. Afterwards, she remembers thinking, “‘Oh! I really can do this! I can really get enough sales and eventually create the business I want to create!”
She credits Future Founders for this newfound confidence; working with the team has given her the tools and mentorship she needs to trust in herself and her vision. Perla knows that her path forward will not be easy. Carving out a space in a fitness industry dominated by men and in which women—especially, Perla notes, women of color like herself—have been historically marginalized will be an uphill battle. But that’s why it’s so important to her.
In the closing lines of her Launch Lab pitch, Perla said, “I want to create a positive, multigenerational change in women’s everyday lives—not just physically, but also mentally. I want to create a community where [women] know there’s always someone there for them on their journey.”
At Future Founders, we are grateful every day for the opportunity to support visionaries like Perla. Her commitment to building up her community and leveraging the power of entrepreneurship to bring her dream to life epitomizes our mission. We believe in Perla and her dream, and we can’t wait to see her make it happen.
Click here to learn more about the Be Your Own Boss program.
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