Tricia Cusden is the owner of the successful cosmetic range for older women – Look Fabulous Forever. Having noticed a gap in the cosmetics market, at the age of 68, Tricia decided to start not only her own beauty brand but a “movement to celebrate mature beauty.”
Tricia tells us about her journey and experiences in starting her own business and her inspiration behind it.
Here’s our interview with Tricia Cusden
We’ve noticed an increase in the conversation around ‘Generation Ageless’ – in your interview with Good Housekeeping you say:
“I firmly believe that growing older doesn’t have to be about a quiet withdrawal. It’s a myth that older women aren’t tech-savvy and it’s never too late to set yourself a new challenge. Retirement is just the beginning!”
We love your point of view, but do you feel the perception around older people has changed, or is still yet to change?
I think it is changing but there is still a long way to go. I think the problem lies with the fact that the people who make decisions in creative agencies are all in their 30s and 40s and they see older people in terms of ‘problems’ and ‘medicalisation.’ Most older people like me don’t see themselves in that way. I don’t actually like the term ‘ageless’.
How did you feel your previous background, experience and skills (as a management training consultant) helped you succeed in starting Look Fabulous Forever?
I had a lot of experience of talking with, influencing and presenting to groups of people. This held me in good stead for the video tutorials that I created. I had also worked in a business environment for over 30 years so I knew a lot about how to create and run a growing business. I have always been a risk-taker, so becoming an older-age entrepreneur was something I could take in my stride.
What did you feel were your top three opportunities and challenges to starting a business as an older entrepreneur?
Opportunity to challenge the ageist assumptions of the beauty industry
Opportunity to present powerful, positive, pro-age images (i.e. no air-brushing away wrinkles and only show the makeup on real older women)
Opportunity to use positive, upbeat and celebratory language around ageing
I honestly didn’t encounter any challenges as an older entrepreneur. I had a limited budget but still managed to launch Look Fabulous Forever within that tight budget.
Do you feel there is adequate support and resources available to older entrepreneurs?
I can only speak from personal experience and say that I was able to get the support and resources I needed. However I was using my own savings in the first place, so I didn’t have to persuade some grumpy bank manager to lend me cash! Once the business was successful, we were very easily able to get more investment as and when needed. I asked for and received some excellent mentoring from a couple of younger entrepreneurs in their early 40s, who were very kind and supportive to me.
What would you say to retired individuals looking to start their own business today?
I’d say don’t let your age be a barrier to your thinking. However I’d also say don’t put your whole life at risk with your venture. I only risked the amount of money I could afford to lose and which I knew would not materially affect my life if it all went wrong. I took a more cautious approach at 65 years old because I knew that I would not have the time to make the money back if the business failed. So I knew that I had to ensure that I’d still have a roof over my head whatever happened. I used ‘OPMs’ – Other People’s Money – after that initial investment of my savings.
You too, could start a business in retirement.
If Tricia’s experiences have inspired you then you need to take a look at our guide – 5 Steps to Success – which will tell you all you need to know, step by step, about starting a business.