Meet Five Women Who Founded Their Own Businesses After They Turned 50
Don't let your age stop you from going after your dreams.
Have you ever wondered how to turn your dreams of owning your own business into a reality? We can help. Each week, as part of our Self Made series, we showcase female entrepreneurs-as well as their quality, handmade goods-and share their best advice related to starting, maintaining, and growing your own business.
People don't age out of milestones, but societal pressures relay an overwhelming message that life's biggest goals are either meant to be met by a certain age or they don't really count. Why can't we celebrate someone graduating college at 30? Shouldn't it be cause for celebration when someone buys their first house at 55 as much as it is for someone at 35? Why can't a dream job be discovered after the kids have grown or after decades of working the same job, even through hard-earned promotions?
Women, in particular, have fought long and hard to earn the right to work, acquire equal pay, and be valued for their multidimensional contributions to their communities. You can be a mother and the CEO of a company. You can be a wife and the breadwinner. And you can absolutely start your own business after 50—just ask these five incredible female business owners.
Jaleh Bisharat, CEO & Co-Founder of NakedPoppy
"I never thought I'd start a company in my 50s, but that's what happened!" says Jaleh Bishart, pictured above. "I co-founded NakedPoppy, a clean beauty e-tailer with smart shopping, because the idea had wrapped itself around my soul in a way I'd never experienced. And my children are grown, so I can work as hard and as energetically as I want." Bishart didn't start her business just because her children were grown, though. "There's another reason I did this later in life: When you're older, you've had plenty of time to understand business, culture and leadership. You've learned important lessons along the way. Now that NakedPoppy has been hatched, I get to keep learning—from my colleagues, partners and all the challenges we face.
"Society can see people as 'aging out' but I believe that's antiquated thinking," Bishart adds. "You have a lifetime of experience to offer. Why stop now?"
Dr. Helen LaKelly Hunt, Co-Creator of Safe Conversations
Dr. Helen LaKelly Hunt was in her 60s when she co-created Safe Conversations, the leading relationship and communication program, with her husband, Dr. Harville Hendrix, in 2013. Safe Conversations' methodology is based on 40-plus years of experience and backed by neuroscience, and the company's mission is to strengthen human connections and renew empathy for a more compassionate world.
"I'm grateful to have started Safe Conversations in this later chapter of my life, alongside my life partner, Harville Hendrix," says Hunt. "Together, we have spent four decades helping countless couples restore their marriages. In our increasingly divided world, it's been deeply meaningful to create a company with social impact and a global reach, whose goal is to help people make the shift from conflict to connection. We have had enough polarization for our lifetime. Our Safe Conversations process is building a safer, relational civilization for generations to come."
Randi Shinder, Founder/President/CEO of SBLA Beauty
"I have been in the beauty industry from the time I was in my mid 30s," says Randi Shinder. "I started working on SBLA Beauty, specifically the original Neck Sculpting Wand, when I was 50 years old." And Shinder didn't just try her hand at a new business at age 50, but actually thrived in doing so. "The immediate success was indicative of the fact that there was a gap to treat the area where we can see the signs of aging first. I wanted to not just create a 'gimmick-y' product or offer empty promises. I wanted something revolutionary that offered women and men a non prohibitive alternative to invasive procedures based in science. I used it on my own and tested various formulations pre launch. I was thrilled to create a product that was so effective at aging beautifully."
Jenny Patinkin, Founder of JENNY PATINKIN
A highly sought-after beauty expert, entrepreneur, makeup artist, and author known for her earth-friendly and age-aware approach to beauty, Jenny Patinkin discovered the best success of her life beginning at the age of 50. "Fifty was the year that everything changed," she explains. "I started to do national broadcast appearances on The Today Show and Good Morning America among others to promote my book, Lazy Perfection: The Art of Looking Great Without Really Trying ($20, barnesandnoble.com), and to share my simple approach to beauty; my line got picked up by Bluemercury and started selling like crazy; and Neiman Marcus featured two of my products in 'The Book,' their super high visibility holiday catalogue, in addition to rolling my products out in all of their doors."
"Coupled with the fact that I had never felt more confident in who I am, it was an incredibly exciting and empowering year," she adds. "Being a 50-something business owner is great. I can embrace the frustrations and even the successes that would surely have stressed me out as a younger woman."
Dr. Michele Koo, Founder of Private Practice by Dr. Koo
"To be truthful, at 50, I was just beginning to fully understand how to formulate pure skincare ingredients into efficacious products," says Dr. Michele Koo, founder of Private Practice by Dr. Koo. In fact, it wasn't until Koo was 40 that she began to pay attention to what ingredients worked and didn't in her patients, as well as her own skin. "I look at these celebrity-owned and endorsed products by young influencers and thought: how do you even know what pregnancy, age, or stress does to your skin?" It was Koo's age and experience that became a secret weapon in the development and efficacy of her 100 percent pure and ethical products. "My age and wisdom, not hype, has given me the deeper caring behind starting a product line using my name!"