There are those who have known with unfailing certainty what they wanted to be when they grew up–and then there are the rest of us. There is no deadline for success, and while some are able to carve their own career path out of a passion they’re born with, it takes time–and trials–for most people. For some entrepreneurs, figuring out their ideal industry and starting their own gig didn’t happen until they had already blown out 40 (or more) candles on their birthday cake.
So if you’re worried that you have run out of time to make a name for yourself, these fortysomething female entrepreneurs are an inspiring reminder to keep pursuing your goals–and to not worry about your age.
After all, it’s more important to give yourself time to work out the kinks and build confidence, setting you up for the entrepreneurial road ahead. Here, these powerful women share their stories:
“Don’t compare yourself to others”
In 2006, Brenda Cascio was at the tail end of her 40s. She had a fine arts degree and painted sporadically throughout her life, but put much of her professional time into managing her husband’s dental practice. When the opportunity to found her own company with her daughter arose, she jumped on it. Her company, GB Design House, took the idea of customizing weddings and grew into an all-around design studio that today produces more than a million in sales annually. Their style, ideas, and designs have received plenty of influential nods, and they’ve worked on a slew of celebrity weddings, as well as major fashion brands, including Miu-Miu, Neiman Marcus, and lululemon athletica. Even though her business didn’t take off until she was nearly 50, she says there is something freeing about being in the second half of her life, giving her the realization that she was in control of her career, and if not now, when?
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In the spirit of this thankful week, we'd like to introduce you to our other ~boss lady~ and fellow GB Girl, who we're always thankful for! Meet Brenda!⠀ -⠀ Maker, Designer, All Things Creative⠀ -⠀ Audrey's mom. Artist. Designer. Happiest with a pen or brush in my hand. I have to create — it doesn't matter if it is a meal or a painting or custom napkins. I doodle in the steam on the shower door. It's like breathing for me.
Her best advice to women who are nervous that they’re “too old” is to not to compare themselves to anyone else or any other age. “It’s not about comparing your success to someone else’s, but more about removing the limits that we put on ourselves. We can come up with dozens of valid reasons why it could possibly not work,” she says. “At that point in my career I decided to step forward and go for it. And if it failed? So what! The freeing part of being over 40 is not really caring what other people think. We measure our own success.”
“Redefine success on your own terms”
For 17 years, Auria Abraham didn’t call herself a chef, but she was one. Instead, she worked in the “jingle business” creating music for television and radio advertising, with an impressive roster or clients including American Express, Coca Cola, McDonald’s, Mastercard, and countless others. But in 2011, she decided to start offering supper clubs and vending Malaysian food at street fairs, eventually leading her to her now successful business, Auria’s Malaysian Kitchen. At age 44, she branched out as an entrepreneur, and six years later, her goods are in more than 40 retail locations, mostly in or around New York City, but also in Michigan, Oregon, California, and Tennessee. With her website sales, she’s shipped to all 50 states.
As she’s nurtured her company, she’s approached her career from a more holistic perspective. When she had her only child, a daughter, at the age of 39, and attempted to head back to work in advertising, she quickly realized everything had changed. She no longer wanted the same lifestyle and saw entrepreneurship as providing work-life balance. “Those of us in our forties and beyond need to redefine success on our own terms. A little tunnel vision goes a long way,” she says. “It’s time to ask, In what other perhaps intangible ways does this career or business add to or detract from my life as a complete person? Yes, sales are great, money in the bank is amazing, and one does have to keep an eye on ‘the competition.’ But what if the only competition that really matters is between the different parts of your own life? It’s time to give up squandering our time and attention on what someone else has, does, and owns.”
“Don’t discount baby steps”
To say Shelley Goodstein has kept herself busy is an understatement. She worked in pharmaceutical sales for five years after college, and then again for another four years, post-divorce, when she turned 40. She was also a model with Ford Models, cohosted a local morning show on ABC called The Morning Blend, a real estate agent in New York and Arizona, and the list goes on. In late 2013, however, she found her niche at age 49, when she founded her company, Hidden Crown Hair, which sells hair extensions. Their annual revenue is projected to be in the range of eight figures, and their sales have doubled year-over-year, giving them a growth chart that looks a lot like a hockey stick.
As she remains the CEO and founder of her company, she’s also raising three kids and maintaining a blog with 7 million views, A Model’s Secrets. This hustle mentality has served her every step of the way, but it’s pint-sized increments she suggests to fortysomething women setting out on their own path. “Do something you love and keep doing it. If you have an idea, just keep working it, one baby step at a time,” she says. Though it can take time to arrive at your calling, build a blog audience, develop sales, or figure out what really brings you joy, you have time, regardless if you’re 40, 50, or beyond.