Jack Perez, the founder of Chapel Hill-based Kuel Life, feels she’s lived—and is living—a big life. She abandoned corporate America early on in her career to open her own PR and marketing agency with her husband. She’s lived across the country including Florida, Chicago, San Francisco and the Triangle. In her 40s, Perez took up martial arts and became a third-degree black belt.
“I like to live in very bright colors,” Perez said, “whether it’s running my own business or shutting everything down and traveling around the world for a year with a backpack on my back.”
But when Perez hit age 50 a few years back, something changed. She felt like she was disappearing. Nothing on the Internet spoke to Perez. She said the marketing and branding was all geared towards much younger people. When she did find content that appealed to her, Perez was inundated with ads about “how to look 30 again” through Botox or laser treatments.
So in 2017, Perez and her former Co-Founder Robin Weiss Jones created Kuel Life, an ad-free online community for women age 45 and up, covering topics from menopause to relationships, fashion to makeup. Perez said women in this demographic are wealthier and healthier than ever.
“I am not my mother, and I am not my grandmother,” Perez said. “I have a lot of life left to live. I spent a lot of time helping other startups and finally thought, you know, I think I want to do my own.”
The Kuel Life name is an acronym that suggests Perez’s vision for the startup: Kindness and support, United as a community, Empowered and inspired, and Life with love, learning and laughter.
“I want an environment where we really share the commonality so we can help each other,” Perez said. “Because when you’ve been on the planet for as long as we have, we’ve acquired information and experiences and wisdom that you don’t have at 20 or 30 or 40. I want a place where we can share that with one another to help one another out because in my viewfinder, the pie is as big as you want it to be and there’s always room for some other woman at the table.”
Perez’s Kuel Life has expanded to include Kuel Shop, an online curated shopping experience that features women-run businesses and items geared toward this demographic.
“As we started to talk to more and more women, and more and more woman entrepreneurs, I had this idea, well, I want to grow,” Perez said. “I want to leverage the traction from the content to help women-owned businesses to bring them together.”
Membership Has Its Privileges
Kuel Life visitors are able to become a member within two tiers. Kuel Lite is $4.99 a month for 10% off everything in the Kuel Shop except coaching, online classes, and travel. Kuel Plush is $7.99 a month for 10% off everything in the Kuel Shop. The new subscription tiers were introduced at the start of May.
“You can buy something interesting and unique—a piece of art, wearable art or jewelry—and at the same time you can ‘shop small,’ meaning you’re empowering a woman-owned business,” Perez said. “You’re empowering another entrepreneur.”
As Kuel Life grows, Perez hopes Kuel Chiefs, a new lunch-and-learn program every Thursday at noon on Facebook Live, can turn into something women tune in to each week to educate themselves on a different area of life. The program’s last episode garnered almost a thousand views and it has only been out for four weeks, featuring topics like skincare, menopause and meditation.
“Long-term, I want to be a premier site where everybody knows to go to Kuel Life,” Perez said, “and everybody knows if they want to buy something for their mom or aunt or their sister that you can’t find on Amazon that you would go to the Kuel Shop. I want to be a common household name. I want to see my Kuel Life hats on everyone’s head.”