Deb Perkins is the CEO and Co-Founder of Cat Perkins LLC, a company that designs and manufactures contemporary ladies fashion footwear with interchangeable tops. Ms. Perkins and her business partner, Catherine Levene, developed a (patent -pending) fastener that is both reliable and easy to use, to allow wearers to adapt their shoe style from day to evening, casual to dressy, summer to fall, and through all of life’s transitions.
A creative executive with vast experience building new businesses within Fortune 50 companies, as an entrepreneur, and in the non-profit arena, Ms. Perkins has always been passionate about shoes. Although Perkins started her career in technology, a foot injury caused by running the London marathon without sufficient training fueled a decade-long search for a shoe that not only looked great, but could be worn beyond a quick walk from curb to table on a night out. Further incentive was that Perkins traveled extensively and was tired of wrestling with bags full of shoes while getting through security. A year of living in Spain with her children convinced her that there was no greater calling than to set out to create a high quality, on-trend shoe with style flexibility.
Although Perkins has always loved shoes, she was sensible enough to accept a job in sales at IBM upon graduation from college. That decision not to follow her heart ignited a successful 10 year career in technology, where she progressed from Sales to being a Director of Corporate Marketing, then managing a division of NYNEX (now Verizon). Being willing to take on almost anything helped her land two pivotal jobs while at NYNEX.
Perkins first got to test her entrepreneurial muscles when she was a Product Manager & Project Manager for the first integrated voice and data product to go to market. Perkins was responsible for all aspects of product development on the Callview product, creating the business plan, the technical specifications, the name, the marketing and sales materials, the packaging and all aspects of product development — including holding focus groups and creating an 800# sales fulfillment strategy.
Her second entrepreneurial venture within a corporation was when Ms. Perkins quickly established, through the acquisition of several regional training companies, the only national training network of 80 learning centers across all major markets in the United States. Her division sold and delivered traditional and custom training solutions in many forms, including classroom training, distance learning through teleconferencing, and a myriad of custom training solutions.
While her children were young, Perkins tried her hand at several entrepreneurial ventures: she co-owned a pasta company that made novelty pasta for LL BEAN and others; founded a golf tournament for the Near & Far Aid Association that became the highest revenue producing tournament in Fairfield County; and had a business writing screenplays. Ms. Perkins spent countless hours inventing fresh ideas to raise money for organizations such as The Discovery Museum, The Center for Women & Families, SMA (Spinal Muscular Atrophy), and the Near & Far Aid Association, among others. She also served on the board of the Discovery Museum in Bridgeport, Connecticut and the Near & Far Aid Association.
Before Ms. Perkins was the mother of (shoe) invention, she was the mother to a set of wily triplets. Managing a division of 240 people in her early technology career was cake compared to this, and it has only been in the past 18 years that she has become a true master of strategic planning, sales and marketing, negotiating, consulting, project management, digital marketing management, human resources, crisis management, and horse whispering.
Ms. Perkins graduated from Vanderbilt University and attended the Marketing Management segment of Columbia’s executive MBA program.