Stephanie Su Gives the Gym Bag A Makeover

COMPANY: Persu Collection
LAUNCH: 2015
MISSION: Redefining the traditional gym bag with sleek design and highly-functional features.
LOCATION: California

HERSTORY: I was born and raised in Sacramento, but I’m currently based in Southern California. I moved to Los Angeles to attend UCLA. I graduated with a bachelors degree in political science and a minor in film, television and digital media. After college, I stayed in LA to start my career and launched Persu Collection—in the city of dreams.

I think if there was more exposure, awareness and representation of successful women of color leading businesses, the thought of choosing to follow my own passions and creativity would have come to me earlier.

When did you launch and how difficult was it to develop?

I launched Persu Collection on Kickstarter in 2015. It took a year of creating multiple prototypes to test and edit before finally getting to the perfect sample. It was difficult for me to develop because I have no professional training or background in fashion or product design. The only programs I had on my computer was the basic Microsoft Office Suite, so I used PowerPoint and Microsoft Word to create my design which was basically a mixture of photos, basic shapes, sketches and corresponding detailed instructions in a Word document.

What motivated you to create the collection?

It kind of all started with Groupon, pole dance and an obsession with fitness classes back in 2011. After college, I started taking belly dance classes at a tiny dance studio near my apartment, where I discovered pole dancing and fell in love with not only the sport but also the idea of trying new activities and classes. With the popularity of Groupon at the time, I started buying Groupons to any and all fitness classes that I found interesting.

While using up all of my Groupons, I became obsessed with taking a wide variety of fitness classes. I was constantly hauling my duffel bag to work with me so I could go straight to whichever classes I had for the night after work. In order to keep my clothing, shoes and fitness accessories organized, I used plastic bags to keep them separated in my big, open duffel that was basically falling apart.

Persu Collection “Ama” Backpack and “Jessica” Duffle.

I started looking for a more functional and high quality gym bag that I wouldn’t be embarrassed to carry around with me constantly. After a lot of researching and looking, I was unable to find the bag I wanted or needed. The bags I found were either sleek and stylish but lacked functionality, or highly functional and looked like the cargo pants of gym bags. Influenced by my experience working at Louis Vuitton, I came to the realization that I might be able to design my own dream gym bag.

I wanted a nice looking gym bag on the outside but made of material I can essentially throw around. So, creating a solution to this problem and designing my dream gym bag became a passion project and creative outlet. I collected feedback, created and tested multiple prototypes, got quotes from manufacturers and then turned to Kickstarter when I realized I didn’t have the funds to produce my designs. I was able to triple my goal of $30,000 in 43 days and used the money to fund my first production run, and this threw me into the world of entrepreneurship.

What inspired the name?

The name “Persu” came from a conversation with my best friend when we were discussing what I should call my brand. She simply said, “Why don’t you just call it Persu? Because you’re pursuing your dream, your last name is Su, and the bags are made ‘per’ a.k.a ‘by’ you.” She couldn’t have picked a better name because since then, I’ve continued to ‘persu’ my passions with a goal to help others ‘persu’ theirs as well.

By Art of Preneur

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