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  • abigailwillis

Too old to start a business?

Updated: Aug 15, 2019


“Aren’t you a bit long in the tooth to be getting into interiors” he said to me. I was sat in front of a potential supplier gearing up to launch my new business not so long ago; I was 8 months pregnant and had just left my old job and career. Oh. Steely Glare.


Striding ever forward...

I wonder what the age is where people just give up following a dream?


Now I’m not exactly ‘old’ but then as far as spring chickens go I’m probably pushing it and I do have the number 4 in my age. But that is not old at all, it's not even middle aged nowadays. I have the benefit of many years of commercial experience, common sense, ambition and drive. So, the odd laughter line is countered with experience, maturity, the ability to work hard, juggle and a naivety long left behind. A snowflake I am not!


We launched our new fabric and wallpaper design business earlier this year. It’s a family business I set up alongside my husband Chris (we both now happily in our forties). We’re still in the roller coaster early days and this isn’t a narrative to say, ‘we’ve cracked it, our millions are made, and the yacht is on order’. At the moment every penny is going straight back in and some days we have a wobble or two about whether leaving our old careers was sensible.


But how many people don’t give it a go? Why is setting up a business just for the twenty somethings? Isn’t a second career and those years behind us a good thing? Absolutely.


Here's some oldies (and not so oldies) that found success after the first flush of youth. Vera Wang: started as a fashion designer at the age of 39 (she was a fashions journalist previously). Colonel Sanders (the KFC fella) was a ripe old 62 before he became chicken lickin' good, and the high street shop GAP was founded by husband and wife team Donald and Doris Fisher in their forties. There are lot's of late bloomers all finding their own way long after the pimples have gone and a few wrinkles have appeared.


This piece is probably best described as a rant designed to inspire and encourage other people that are not freshly hatched to be brave, start afresh and pursue a dream to do whatever it is that makes them happy. I just wish I had had a better retort for that supplier when he said those words to me. But of course I didn't and I just sat that and said nothing in a very English sort of way....


Today is a great day, no wobbles, no doubts (still no yacht or millions either). And I reckon I’m still rather young despite a few cheeky grey hairs.



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