As more women boomers are becoming successful entrepreneurs and carving their own niches in a variety of fields and industries, 50 is definitely the new 30.
Similar to Civil War heroines like abolitionist-spy Harriet Tubman or surgeon-activist Mary Edwards Walker, today’s 50-something women entrepreneurs are hardly getting the recognition they deserve. Be that as it may, this doesn’t mean that their contributions do not have huge impacts on society.
In fact, women in their 50s are the most active entrepreneurs today — growing at a rate much higher than entrepreneurs under 25, according to Huffpost. Just who are these women, and how have they pushed the boundaries of business to make the world a better place?
Right before she hit 50, Shelley found her niche market. Banking on her career as a model for Ford, a real estate agent, and a morning show host, she founded Hidden Crown Hair. The company sells hair extensions and is now an inspiration for women her age. In conjunction, she started a blog named A Model’s Secrets where she advises women her age on how to find what they love to do. Finding stellar success right after her divorce, Goodstein has taught women that prosperity knows no time nor circumstances.
Inspired by how his disabled son struggled to find work, Karen Stubbings started her company Wood Pile in 2014. The company affords people with disabilities with work experience to improve their employment chances. Now in her 50s, Karen has dedicated 13 years of her life helping women at Dress for Success before she founded this remarkable business.
Technology has enabled social enterprises to introduce pioneering solutions to pressing issues. Rappler CEO Maria Ressa is famous in the Philippines for being a fearless journalist and she was even featured on Time Magazine’s list of People of the Year in 2018. She has a penchant for delivering the truth and innovative entrepreneurship, which she was also recognized via a number of prestigious awards. By leveraging technology, Rappler continues to integrate news, social media, and advocacy channels. Despite persecution and cases filed against her, Ressa remains a beacon of hope for press democracy in the Philippines.
Bringing art to the marginalized is what inspired Savona Bailey Mclain to open up the West Harlem Art Fund in her 50s. The fund showcases art in underserved communities to promote historical and cultural heritage. Savona believes that the talents in West Harlem shouldn’t be left unnoticed. She’s also the chair of Community Board 9’s economic development committee in New York City, where she’s pushing for inclusivity and diversity.
At 58, Susan Wright was an expert in retail and business in the charity sector when she bought Eco Republic as the small shop was about to tank. The store sells ethical gifts, homewares and electric bikes among others—specializing in ethically sourced and sustainable products. With a small loan and her expertise, Susan implemented her business plan and resuscitated the shop in no time.
Lisa Laird Dunn
Taking on an industry dominated by men isn’t easy for Lisa Laird Dunn, especially in her 50s as the VP and World Ambassador of American distillery Laird & Company. While the company has existed even before the U.S. was a country, Lisa was responsible for the mainstream revival of apple-derived whiskey or applejack, which declined in popularity before the turn of the century. Connecting professional and home bartenders to the source, she has encouraged creative and enthusiastic applications of her family’s uniquely American products.
Working as a fashion forecaster for decades, Jane Kellock opened her business-to-business website Unique Style Platform at the age of 51. The company provides lifestyle analysis and fashion trend forecasts for women in London. Determined to show naysayers that her idea can be successful, she now runs a vibrant business in the city, employing more and more freelancers as the company grows.
Chetna Galla Sinha
A village woman and social advocate, Chetna Galla Sinha opened the Mann Deshi Bank in Maharashtra, India. It was the first woman-led rural bank in the country, promoting female empowerment in an environment where it’s desperately needed. The bank also provides loans for bikes and tuition, primarily for women farmers and rural workers. Afterwards, Chetna opened a cattle camp where villagers can get water and fodder for their farms—now a successful settlement for farmers in the village. As an entrepreneur, she has touched many lives, especially rural women.
Heloisa Helena Assis
Now at 59 years old, Heloisa is simply one of the most powerful businesswoman in Brazil. Struggling with taming her naturally curly hair as a child, she has spent years working on hair solutions. And now, her salon chain Instituto Beleza Natural has become the largest beauty brand in the country. The beauty giant now employs 1,700 people, and even runs its own research center.
Debera considers her participation in the civil-political rights movement in the 60s as her edge in the market. She founded Brooklyn Pratt Fashion Design Accelerator at the Pratt Institute to empower women and advocate fashion sustainability. The fashion incubator supports innovative solutions to the current wasteful paradigms employed by the fast-fashion industry. With the help of technological inventions, Debera hopes to make sustainable fashion for women a global reality.
Entrepreneurship and innovation know no age limit. This is what these inspiring women are proving. It’s never too late to jump in and make a difference.
Article written by: Jenna Thomas
Exclusively for kalonwomen.com
Tech journalist Jenna Thomas splits her time between being updated about the latest developments in disruptive tech, writing news and opinion pieces for several blogs, and learning Python. When she does have the luxury of free time, she likes scouring farmers’ markets for cheap, organic produce for her ketogenic diet plan.