Each month I get the chance to meet and interview a strong mid-life woman who is thought-provoking and inspirational, but this month, effectively, I am in conversation with myself! Discussing the perception of women and ageing, the outdated stereotypes and what’s shaping our attitudes surrounding the ageing process.
Can you give us a little background about yourself?
I am a mother, a PRO AGE warrior, beauty expert and founder of Studio10 – in that order.
I’m passionate about redefining beauty for women as they age. We need a PRO AGE, pro beauty voice that gives us the recognition we ALL deserve. I want to inspire mature women to challenge the outdated misconceptions of middle age – ones that can leave us feeling invisible, undervalued and unattractive. And I want to inspire the next generation to eradicate ageism once and for all. It’s time to be seen and be heard.
With a background in branding and marketing, I co-founded my own agency, where I worked with celebrity makeup artist Jemma Kidd building her Makeup School range for Boots. Following on from this, I decided to develop my own makeup range – an independent beauty brand that's PRO AGE – for me beauty had no age limit – and this is how STUDIO10 was born.
What was your inspiration for Studio10?
As I reached middle age, I wanted to celebrate this. I wanted to feel truly confident and not be limited by negative anti-ageing stereotypes that didn’t reflect how I felt or how I lived my life. This needed to be represented in advertising by the makeup brands that were trying to talk to us, but at that time the beauty industry only seemed to have a ‘one rule suits all’ approach to makeup, and all I could find were dressed up versions of main-stream products that just didn’t seem to work for maturing skin – so my inspiration was to create and develop ‘quick-fix’ solutions formulated for mature skin, with the best skincare ingredients, and that were also easy to use.
Positive ageing for woman is the ethos behind Studio10 – as a woman in her 50s, is this a positive stage of life for you?
When I conducted a survey earlier in the year on whether ageing is positive I was shocked when 42% of respondents claimed to find it a negative experience. We have to change this statistic. I believe that I (and many midlife and beyond women out there) can help to make this change by standing up and speaking out – as a woman in her 50s I LOVE my age!
Of course, I’ve had moments of wishing I was younger and feeling uncomfortable with the 'middle age’ label, and I certainly have brief moments of feeling invisible – but we can’t turn back the clock, and trying to will only leave us disillusioned and fighting a futile battle we can never win. So I do see this stage of life as such a positive and exciting one. We can’t change what has already been, but there’s so much out there to embrace, experience and achieve and nothing should hold us back.
We just have to remember that ageing brings with it so many positives and fabulous opportunities. We need to define what these positives are and what ageing means to us individually – then we can stand up loudly and proudly and be exactly who we are for us, not for anyone else or to satisfy a societal perception of how we should age.
What do you think of the super-youthful 50-year-old celebrities and are they raising the bar just a little too high?
It’s a difficult question – and I’m not saying the shift in culture surrounding how we view older women hasn’t been welcome. Even five years ago we were still sidelining women over 50 – now they’re up on the catwalk, fronting beauty campaigns and influencing whole generations with their Instagram fabulousness. And I salute them, I really do. But can the rest of us mere mortals keep up with those ultra-dewy fifty somethings? And in doing so, are we contributing to yet another negative cycle of unattainable beauty? Do we, in fact, need role models who look just a tiny bit more like the rest of us? I believe we do – and we are beginning to see that shift. At Studio10 it’s not about aspiring to look ten years younger than we are, it’s about loving the skin we’re in a making sure we are the very best version of ourselves.
What are you most proud of?
First and foremost, my girls. But I’m also proud that I built a business with a real mission and purpose. I have been so fortunate to have the opportunity to turn my passion into a career and help create a space where women can feel good about themselves at any age. And I’m proud to be a PRO AGE warrior – determined to make a difference to how women feel as they age. I want to challenge society’s outdated stereotypes, as well as our own subconscious bias, which only serve to diminish our beauty, value and confidence. It’s time to reframe society’s misguided narrative that only youth can be beautiful and make ageism old news.
Best piece of advice you’ve been given?
It has to be my Dad – he always seemed to have the best advice! He said to me that if you really want to do it, then just go for it. You’ll never find out unless you do, and there’s a lot of life left to live to be spent wondering: ‘what if…?’
What inspires you?
I think it’s human nature to want to make a difference and to leave a legacy – I’m definitely driven to do this – but I’m mostly inspired by the many strong and determined woman around me – women I am so lucky to have the chance to meet in the job that I do – and I’m motivated by the legacies they are leaving and the differences they are making. This is inspirational and empowering.
Best beauty advice?
I always say that if you look good, you feel good! Whatever it is that you do to make yourself look good on the outside – whether it’s a great haircut, a beautiful makeup look or the clothes you wear – if you put that little bit of extra effort in, you reap the rewards of how you feel on the inside. I think it’s important to surround ourselves with real and authentic images of beauty and to not feel pressured to be the perfect woman we see in glossy magazines.
What would you still like to achieve?
I want to continue to gain momentum with my PRO AGE movement to change the face of ageing. The negative rhetoric used by mainstream media and anti-ageing ads, and the paltry representation of older women, sends a clear message: in order for us to stay socially relevant, we must look young. A recent study of 2000 women revealed that by the time they reached the age of 51, many believed they had become completely invisible. Only 15% of these women felt that they had high or very high confidence in any area of their lives, and 46% thought that no one understood or addressed women and ageing.
This is why I want women as many women as possible to continue to join my PRO AGE movement and challenge society’s – and often our own – outdated stereotypes that diminish our beauty, our value and our confidence. True beauty is ageless – our achievements and experiences have real value, so let’s celebrate our age and wear it proudly. It’s time to own our years and unite to create a voice that gives us the recognition we deserve. We’ve got to change how we talk about ageing as a society.
Desert Island disc, book and luxury item?
My disc would have to be Fleetwood Mac – Landslide.
Feel the Fear and do it anyway by Susan Jeffers is a book that I return to again and again. Whatever anxieties you may have, the wisdom and insight it offers to overcome them is truly incredible – my self-help bible!
And my luxury item would be a good pillow!
What's your favourite quote to live by?
“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realise they were the big things.” - Robert Brault