In conversation with Tricia Cusden – launching a business at 65
We’re kicking off March in style with a very special interview with Tricia Cusden, the trail blazing founder of Look Fabulous Forever. Tricia launched Look Fabulous Forever in 2013, aged 65, as she struggled to find products that worked well for her skin. Ignored by beauty brands who only wanted to sell her products marked anti-ageing, she created a range of makeup and skincare specifically for older women. Today, to begin our month of Celebrating Women, Tricia tells us how she came to set up her company, what it’s like being in business with her daughters and how the Look Fabulous Forever has gone from strength to strength…
The Joy Club: What was life like for you before you started Look Fabulous Forever?
Tricia Cusden: I was 65 in 2013 and very much in need of a new challenge. My youngest daughter had given birth to a baby, India, in early 2012 who was very ill and not expected to live. She was in intensive care for nine months and my daughter and her husband needed my support not only for themselves, but for their other daughter Freya who was two and a half. India was eventually diagnosed with a rare chromosomal abnormality and given a tracheostomy to help her breathe. Despite this, she was discharged home with a care package and my daughter found a special needs nanny to help her to return to work. Life began to return to some kind of normality except I was left with a profound sense of not knowing what to do with the rest of my life. I thought to myself I might live another 30 years and I need a new sense of purpose beyond watching daytime TV!
TJC: Where did the idea for Look Fabulous Forever come from and what was the ‘aha!’ moment for you in terms of deciding to turn the idea into reality?
TC: I have always loved makeup and in fact I have worn it every day since I was 16. I had also been involved in business for much of my life – I ran my own training consultancy business for 25 years – and missed the day to day interaction that it gave me with other people. I was also fed up of wasting money on makeup that was clearly formulated for much younger skin and aggravated by the anti-ageing language of the beauty business which only seemed to want to sell me products to make me look younger. I didn’t want to look younger, I just wanted to look the best I could. It was during a Mother’s Day lunch in 2013 that I discussed my idea for a business centred around makeup for older women with my two daughters, Anna and Suzy and instead of telling me I was mad, they both said “Go for it Mum!”.
I knew nothing about the cosmetics industry – I was a complete outsider, but I had the great good fortune to meet a manufacturer based in Suffolk who not only liked my idea, but was prepared to produce makeup in very small quantities to help me get it off the ground. With the help of some good friends, I had some photographs taken of women wearing the makeup, had a website built, and made some videos. My initial idea for the business was face to face party selling, but over a period of about four months, the videos which had been uploaded to YouTube started being seen and shared around the world till I was coming home from having done a party to see I’d taken more in sales from our website. It was at this point my daughter Anna joined the business, and with her background in PR, she was able to start getting us coverage in places like the Daily Mail and The Guardian.
By 2015, the business was gaining momentum and at the end of that year, we had another turning point when I was featured on BBC Breakfast. The website very nearly crashed and we had hundreds more orders than we would usually have. It propelled us into a very different place overnight and we’ve never looked back. My other daughter Suzy, India’s mum, had also joined us by this point and we were able to hire someone to look after Customer Services and someone else to look after digital marketing. We also took on some external investment to fuel our growth and allow us to take on more staff and expand our marketing.
TJC: How has it been working with your daughters on your business, and have you become closer as a result?
TC: I very much enjoy working with my daughters and it gives me a whole different sense of purpose than if I was doing it on my own. It also frees me up to concentrate on things I love doing – writing my weekly blog, making videos, engaging with our Facebook group, Tricia’s Super Troopers, and doing press interviews. There have been some tricky moments when business issues have become emotional in a way they wouldn’t do if we weren’t related to each other, but generally speaking, we get on very well.
TJC: Do you have any advice for anyone thinking of starting their own business?
TC: My advice to anyone thinking about starting a business would be to just do it! There has to be a point when you take the risk. Starting a business is an exciting, exhilarating and scary thing to do. Obviously, you have to make sure that you mitigate the risk especially if, like me, you are 65, but there is a point when you have to put yourself on the line and see what will happen.
Tricia, Anna and Suzy were recently featured in Woman & Home‘s article on working with your family. You can read her guest blog on creating the perfect Christmas look here. Our members enjoy special offers on Look Fabulous Forever make up and skin care. If you’re not already a member of The Joy Club, why not sign up for your one-month free trial to access our amazing deals today?