Tricia Cusden

For so many people, their dream is to get rich doing the thing they love and retire early. But, as Daniel Priestley often explains in his books, true entrepreneurs are the ones that never retire. 

They are the ones who continue to run businesses well beyond the age they’d be expected to retire, because they have a genuine love for what they do.

It’s perhaps no surprise to see a rise in the number of so-called ‘olderpreneurs’ in the UK – those who are launching their first business in their later years.

Launching your first business is a huge challenge for anyone, but to do it at the age of 65 adds that extra bit of difficulty. For it to be a family business adds another challenging dimension, as does launching in an almost entirely new market.

But that’s exactly what Tricia Cusden did. She’s the founder of Look Fabulous Forever, a makeup brand for older women.

Following a successful corporate career, Tricia gave up work in 2012 to help care for her granddaughter India, who was born with a rare chromosomal disorder. A little over a year later, with India in better health, Tricia returned to work part-time but it just wasn’t for her.

She spotted a gap in the market for a new approach to cosmetics for older women, sparking the idea for Look Fabulous Forever.

“I have always loved make-up,” she started “but as I got older, I saw this huge gap in the market for beauty brands that specifically catered for older women. I bought some expensive make-up that was meant to make me look fabulous but the opposite happened and I was extremely disappointed with how the products worked on my face. I realised that our skin and faces change as we age, so surely our make-up should reflect this?”

So what exactly are the challenges of starting a business at the age of 65?

“There have been relatively few challenges since I launched Look Fabulous Forever,” Tricia explained.

She launched the business as more of a hobby, meaning she could run things at a pace that suited her.

“Because I have been relatively relaxed about the speed of growth, I think this has actually helped it thrive.”

Research released last year suggested the older generation was cashing in £400 million of its pensions to fund new ventures. But Tricia was adamant that she would be measured in her risk taking: “I only risked what I could afford to lose, so it was a very calculated risk. I promised myself that, no matter what, I would not put my comfortable retirement in jeopardy.”

Ironically, Tricia’s biggest challenge has been the company’s biggest success. On New Year’s Eve in 2015, she appeared on BBC Breakfast to talk about makeup for older women.

She said: “The volume of orders increased within minutes of the programme airing from an average of four an hour to four a minute! I thought the website might crash (it came close) and I also thought that we would run out of stock. After the New Year break, I drove to both our supplier and our delivery company and asked for their help. They both responded magnificently and within a week we had cleared the backlog of orders, were successfully able to meet the increased demand and had kept all our new customers very happy.”

Tricia’s entrepreneurial mindset isn’t something that came to her later in life. She grew up in a family business, “so I grew up with the notion that you create your own opportunities and wealth.” she added.

“I am also quite a natural risk-taker, so I love testing the boundaries of what I am capable of achieving. My time as a management trainer teaching others about confidence and influencing has also helped me to put those ideas into practice.”

Keeping it in the family

Although Look Fabulous Forever didn’t start as a family business, Tricia’s experiences growing up undoubtedly helped her to deal with the blurring boundaries of family and work life as her daughters, Anna and Suzy, joined the business. PR specialist Anna teamed-up with her mum in 2014, while sister Suzy joined a year later.

“It is important to compartmentalise [relationships] to a certain extent,” Tricia said.

“Our relationships are mother, daughter and sister – in private. At work we have our own responsibilities and act as professionals with a job to do. That said, having such a close relationship is invaluable in a business context. We can communicate in short hand, we know each other very well and we are sensitive to each other’s needs. We have a strong relationship and this helps when there are any problems. It’s vital that you talk about any negative issues as soon as they arise and not allow them to fester (or ignore them).”

Now 68, Tricia and Look Fabulous Forever have gone from strength-to-strength. Now selling to 28 countries around the world and with a bubbling YouTube following, Look Fabulous Forever was shortlisted for Best Business Startup by The Guardian in 2014, and in 2015 Tricia won Digital Achiever of the Year. This year, she has been shortlisted for the Online Retail Awards in the beauty and small business categories.

And there are no signs of Tricia slowing down: “I want to continue to empower this demographic to show that age is no barrier to looking and feeling beautiful and confident. I also want to continue to prove that older women are very tech-savvy [referring to her online presence].”

 

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