Money is still a taboo topic for most people, especially women. Kara Perez, the founder, and CEO of Bravely LLC, is on a mission to educate and empower women financially to break generational curses by creating tools and resources to help women get better with money. Bravely is described as the “intersection of finance and feminism”, keep reading to learn more about Kara and how she plans to help women save, invest and level up financially.
What makes you a diverse founder?
For me, diversity shows up in three ways. Firstly, I’m biracial, although I’m white-passing. This is hugely important because there are more systemic barriers to Latinx and Black founders than to white founders. Being biracial has helped me bring a focus on spreading financial literacy among Latinx people and lower-income women because that was me. That was members of my family. In order to enact change, we need to focus on the people the system currently leaves out.
Secondly, I’m a young woman. I founded Bravely when I was 28. Money and time are huge barriers to women founding businesses, because banks are less likely to give us loans, and it’s much harder for young women to raise venture capital.
Finally, I was low income for a lot of my life, and certainly the first few years after college. I made roughly 15k my first year out of school, roughly 16k the second, and roughly 18k the third. This lived experience reminds me to include low-income women in my business and efforts. We can’t leave people out in the cold because they’re low income- that doesn’t solve anything.
At what age were you exposed to entrepreneurship?
21 – 30
Tell us more about your company and entrepreneurial journey
Bravely hosts pop up financial literacy events around the US, and maintains a thriving online platform for women to find financial tools, information, and shared experiences from other women. We focus on sharing how-to articles on money issues like debt payoff, beginning investing, budgeting and saving, and we also share personal stories from women at different points in their money journey. We also work with people as a money coach in one on one settings! Bravely is my baby, and I run everything myself. It’s definitely a lot, but I love the work I do.
What problem are you trying to solve?
I believe the path to social equality begins with getting money into the hands of marginalized people, and Bravely tries to bridge the gap between financial education and financial action. We are deliberately trying to address financial problems women face and give women the tools to change them. For example, we all know there’s a wage gap. How can women negotiate or freelance to beat the wage gap? Women live longer than men, so saving and investing is crucial for women- how can we get more women to save more money?
What has been your biggest hurdle?
My biggest hurdle has definitely been having a small pot of money to start with. Bravely is funded by me and only me, and I started with $3,300. Not having a lot of money means I’ve had to build slowly and to not pursue some plans just yet because I can’t properly fund them. Growth has been slow but steady, and I focus on doing small things well. If I can please my first few readers, they’ll share my content. If I can wow my first few event guests, they’ll bring a friend next time. And that has worked well for me so far!
What resources have helped you most?
So many! For the money, I have three Google Sheets that I use to track business income. I use Invoice Generator.com to make invoices for certain clients. I use WordPress to host my website and use plugins to customize it. And most importantly, building a community of other entrepreneurs and women who I can talk to about business in an open and honest way. Their support is critical to my business and mental health.
What does diversity mean to you?
Frankly, diversity means anything but straight, white men to me at this point. We live in a world of over 7.5 billion people, but in the US, the power is concentrated in the hands of rich, white men, who are usually older. That has to change. Our laws, our tools, our tech- they are being written by and FOR a tiny percentage of the US. To me, having a gay engineer, a female CEO, a Black CFO- all this means good things. It means we’re developing workplaces and, hopefully, products that work for a wide range of users.
What advice do you have for first-time entrepreneurs?
Get as organized as possible early on. Starting a business comes with legal and financial responsibilities, and you don’t want to get in trouble with the government because you hate spreadsheets. Get a lawyer and an accountant if you need one, even if they’re expensive upfront. It’s worth doing the set up right!
What do you wish to see more of from others on their entrepreneurial journeys?
I wish more people would talk about money and various kinds of support they have or don’t have. We see so many stories of people who worked 16 hour days to bring their dream to life and hear nothing about the fact that their partner cooked all their meals, and they were living rent-free. All of those things are considered ‘background’ but they have a huge impact on what you’re able to produce. I wish people saw that kind of help as what it is; help. People seem to feel that if they acknowledge the privilege or help they had, it diminishes their effort but it doesn’t. It just paints a fuller picture.