By Skyler Aikerson
Charlotte Keesler recently quit her job at Fifth Wall and was in the beginning stages of creating her line of women’s business clothes when the coronavirus pandemic shut down offices around the world, all but eliminating the need for business wear. Undeterred and still recognizing the need to provide resources for young women entering the workforce, Keesler pivoted from office attire to a focused social networking platform.
When Per the work edit launches sometime this month, it will feature forums where members can connect and discuss their experiences in the workplace, content by freelance writers, and overviews of female-founded companies and interviews with female founders. Keesler’s intention is not only to educate and advise her audience on navigating the workplace, but also to give young women “more exposure to what people are doing and expand the realm of the possible,” she said.
The company’s name is a play on the word perseverance, as well as the infamous phrase “per my last email.” “I wanted to keep it a little cheeky,” Keesler said. It also refers to her initial vision for the company. Keesler explained that between their high prices and limited styles, finding women’s business clothes that she liked was a difficult process. “I was extremely frustrated and honestly somewhat appalled by what some brands were calling their ‘work edit,’” she said. “Clothes that I wouldn’t even wear in unprofessional situations were being presented as part of their ‘work edits.’”
Prior to starting her own company, Keesler worked for Deutsche Bank and Fifth Wall. Through both of those jobs, she discovered her interest in startups—and a desire to start her own. “I helped launch the Retail Innovation Fund at Fifth Wall,” she said. “I was like, ‘I spent two years helping to build this fund. I really want to build my own company.’”
When all’s said and done, Keesler hopes that Per the work edit will become the go-to resource for young women entering the workforce, a demographic who currently, Keesler said, aren’t adequately having their needs addressed. “If we think about all the women joining the workforce every single year, there’s a lot of people that have this need,” she said. “I am seeking to create something that solves a problem and that people wished already existed.”
Keesler graduated with a bachelor’s in economics from Washington and Lee University in Virginia. Keesler said the liberal arts education she received there has helped her during the process of creating and launching Per the work edit. “Starting a business, I should know numbers, but I also have to know how to write, and I know how to think creatively,” she said. “I think a liberal arts education sets you up really well to be able to figure out all those different disciplines and be able to adjust your thought process.”
Keesler’s induction into Phi Beta Kappa continues the tradition of women in her family being a part of the organization: her grandmother, mother, and sister were all inducted into ΦΒΚ. “I was honestly extremely honored to receive that award as well,” she said. “I think that in order to receive Phi Beta Kappa, you just have to work really, really hard and have good discipline and work ethic.”
Photo credit: Kaitie Brainerd
Skyler Aikerson earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Goucher College, where she was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa in May 2020. Goucher College is home to the Beta of Maryland chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.