Passion Project After 50: 10 Inspiring Stories of 50-Plus Entrepreneurs

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Passion Project After 50: 10 Inspiring Stories of 50-Plus Entrepreneurs

There’s a wave of inspiration that you might not be aware of! Passion Project is the new buzzword in town, and it’s all about pursuing what truly lights your fire.

Now is the perfect opportunity to begin your exploration of Passion Projects. These projects are born out of pure love for something – an idea, a hobby, or even a long-lost dream.

The beauty lies in transforming this passion into something tangible and meaningful. It could be anything from starting your own bakery to launching an online art gallery!

This blog post will introduce you to some fantastic over-50 grandma entrepreneurs who launched their Passion Project after 50. Their stories will ignite your entrepreneurial spirit and show you different ways to make the world a better place!

Vera Wang

Renowned for her bridal wear, Vera Wang’s fashion empire didn’t come to life until she was 40. Like Roberta Scherf, founder of PrioHealth, who started after 50, Vera’s journey is an inspiration for women over the age of 40.  Don’t worry.  We’ll talk more about Roberta Scherf and her type of passion project later.

Fashioning a New Path After Vogue and Ralph Lauren

In her earlier years at Vogue and Ralph Lauren, Ms. Wang honed her skills before creating wedding dresses. The perfect dress eluded her when it came time for her nuptials – thus sparking a passion project that transformed into a global luxury brand.

This personal quest drove her to research modern brides’ desires in their dream gowns and the best ways to create them. And voila. A globally-renowned design house was born.

A Guiding Light for Women Over Forty

Before becoming a renowned fashion designer, Vera Wang’s early life was intertwined with the world of figure skating. As a young and talented figure skater, she dedicated herself to the sport with remarkable determination. Vera’s journey on the ice taught her the values of discipline, precision, and creative expression, which would later resonate in her design philosophy.

While she did not reach the pinnacle of competitive skating, her experience in the rink fostered her passion for aesthetics and graceful movement, planting the seeds that would eventually blossom into her iconic designs. This chapter of her life laid the foundation for her transition from the ice to the runway, where she would make an indelible mark on the fashion world.

The tale of this former figure skater-turned-fashion designer offers hope to us considering late career changes or launching passion projects later in life. Age isn’t an obstacle but an asset, with many years of rich experiences shaping one’s vision.

Mary Kay Ash

Embarking on her entrepreneurial journey at 45, Mary Kay Ash inspires all women who dream of starting their passion projects later in life. Mary Kay didn’t just build a global cosmetics brand; she constructed an empire.

The Genesis of Mary Kay Cosmetics

In 1963, after facing discrimination in traditional corporate America, Ash invested her life savings into starting a business that would empower women financially, a radical concept during those times.

Ash’s unique marketing strategy involved home-based parties where consultants showcased products directly to consumers. This method fostered personal connections between consultants and customers, an essential element in building customer loyalty, and was unique and new in its day.

a pink background with a quote from Mary Kay Ash "Begin to build in your mind a dream. Then write it down and make your goal realistic."

More Than Just Beauty Products: A Legacy of Empowerment

Beyond offering makeup and skincare lines equivalent in quality to any high-quality research project, Mary Kay fervently believed in empowering women through entrepreneurship. Her philosophy promoted work-life balance long before it became mainstream, attracting many women to become beauty consultants, even if they didn’t have any sales experience or specific skills around cosmetics.

Today with over three million independent beauty consultants worldwide, Mary Kay Inc.’s impact extends beyond its superior products.  It also lies within opportunities provided for women around the globe striving to become successful entrepreneurs.

An Inspirational Beacon for Later-Life Entrepreneurs

Much like brainstorming ideas come alive when executed well, Mary Kay’s story stands out not only for inspiring future entrepreneurs but especially those considering kick-starting their passion projects later than usual. It highlights that age should never be a hindrance when pursuing your dreams.  Instead, try to look at it as one of your greatest strengths.

Did you know that your very own Hip Grandma was a Mary Kay Beauty Consultant when my children were young?  I loved my experience with the company and have nothing but good experiences to share.  My Mary Kay training was an excellent way to develop my leadership skills and was an early first step in inspiring me to work for myself.

J.K. Rowling

Imagine being the mind behind the magical world of Harry Potter.  J.K. Rowling has inspired high school students and adults with her enthralling tales. Yet, she didn’t stop at just weaving magic spells.

Pivot to Crime Fiction

In an unexpected move that left many wondering, Ms. Rowling chose crime fiction as her next passion project after Harry Potter.  She began writing under the name Robert Galbraith in 2013 when she was well into her fifties.

This foray into a different genre of writing proved to be a clever and successful venture. With the publication of the Cormoran Strike detective series, starting with “The Cuckoo’s Calling,” Rowling skillfully concealed her true identity and showcased her versatility as a writer beyond the realm of fantasy. 

The mystery novels were well-received critically and commercially, allowing her to explore a new genre while maintaining the intrigue of her authorship secret before eventually revealing her true identity as the mastermind behind the series.

a purple background with a quote by JK Rowling "It is impossible to live without failing at something... unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all - in which case, you fail by default."

An Inspiration for Women With Stories to Share

Rowling inspires those looking at starting their careers later in life or switching gears altogether.  At the end of the day, Her journey shows us that it can be fruitful if you’ve got your heart set on a passion project, no matter what age you are. 

Wendy Williams

A name synonymous with frank discussions and charismatic presence, Wendy Williams carved her niche in the television industry post-age 50. She ventured into a mid-life passion project when she launched “The Wendy Williams Show,” which quickly became a beacon for women over 50.

The Journey to Television Fame

Inspired by renowned figures like Robin Chase: Co-founder of Zipcar, a car-sharing service, who launched the company to great success in her 40s, Wendy transitioned from being an acclaimed radio DJ to creating educational TikTok videos and finally hosting one of America’s most loved daytime talk shows.

This daytime talk show is about entertaining viewers and providing them with quality content based on high-quality research projects. Just as students brainstorm ideas for their science fair competitions or aspiring jazz composers create new melodies, Wendy formulated engaging segments that resonated deeply with audiences across generations.

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“The Wendy Williams Show” – A Social Good Passion Project?

Beyond entertainment value lies the show’s impact on mental health conversations in mainstream media. Integrating her passion project into commercial programming while retaining its core values proves anyone at any age can start anew and build relationships through shared experiences.

The program has been instrumental in fostering community-building among regular over-40 viewers via interactive sections such as ‘Ask Wendy.’ These moments allow personal matters ranging from relationship advice to self-esteem issues to be discussed openly, thereby normalizing conversations around these topics.

Joyce Meyer

Joyce Meyer also embarked on a significant journey after turning 50. Born in the early 1940s, she is an acclaimed author and speaker who started the global organization Joyce Meyer Ministries in her late 40s.

The Birth of Her Passion Project

Her early life was marked by hardship and adversity, including an abusive childhood. However, Joyce’s unyielding spirit and her newfound faith became the driving forces behind her remarkable transformation.

A Late Bloomer’s Success Story

Joyce Meyer, driven by a deep desire to share her spiritual insights and experiences, began her ministry in her 40s. Armed with a profound understanding of overcoming life’s challenges, she started by speaking at local church gatherings. Her candid, relatable style resonated with audiences, and her ministry rapidly expanded.

Social Impact Through Faith

Joyce’s ministry reaches millions today and is dedicated to humanitarian work globally through feeding programs for underprivileged communities, establishing and managing homes for children in need, and fostering care for children orphaned by HIV-AIDS in developing nations.  What a great way to be successful by supporting a particular cause.

Diane von Furstenberg

Diane von Fürstenberg’s early years were a fusion of European elegance and entrepreneurial spirit. Born into a Belgian-Jewish family, she studied economics at the University of Geneva before marrying Prince Egon von Fürstenberg. However, it was her move to New York City and her divorce from the prince that would set the stage for her iconic fashion legacy.

In the early 1970s, Diane introduced the revolutionary wrap dress, a versatile and effortlessly chic design that resonated with women seeking style and practicality. This pivotal creation catapulted her to international fame and epitomized her philosophy of empowerment and independence for women. Diane’s early experiences and unique journey laid the groundwork for her influential role in shaping modern fashion and empowering women through her innovative designs.

A blue background with a Diane von Furstenberg quote "I wanted to be an independent woman, a woman who could pay for her bills, a woman who could run her own life - and I became that woman."

The Resurgence of an Iconic Brand

In her fifties, Ms. von Furstenberg decided on a business rebirth.  She brought back her classic wrap dress and expanded into new clothing lines.

This reinvention was more than successful; it sparked renewed interest from women worldwide who yearned for DVF designs once again gracing their wardrobes and department store shelves.

DVF Gives Back

Diane von Fürstenberg’s commitment to giving back is as formidable as her impact on the fashion world. With a deep belief in philanthropy and women’s empowerment, she has dedicated herself to numerous initiatives that uplift and support others.

Through her leadership as the Chair of the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation, she has championed causes related to education, arts, and human rights.

She initiated the “DVF Awards” to recognize and financially support women who exhibit extraordinary courage and leadership in their communities. Additionally, she has been a vocal advocate for, among others, the nonprofit organization Vital Voices, supporting the development of emerging women leaders.

Diane’s unwavering dedication to philanthropy showcases her compassionate nature and reinforces her belief in using her influence to create positive change in the world.

Carol Gardner

Amid personal adversity, Carol Gardner discovered her passion project. A difficult divorce in her 50s left her grappling with depression and financial strain.

The Birth of Zelda

A therapist’s advice led to an unexpected venture: a dog for companionship or starting something new. The combination gave birth to Zelda, an English bulldog that became synonymous with humor-filled greeting cards. These weren’t ordinary cards; they featured quirky images of Zelda adorned in various outfits and clever captions – all products of high-quality research by Carol herself.

This creative endeavor started as therapy but quickly gained traction among local community retailers who began stocking these unique creations on their shelves.

An Unexpected Success Story

Zelda Cards’ popularity soared within two years, transforming from a small-scale operation into an international brand sold at numerous retail locations across America and beyond. This success enabled Carol to pay off debts and build relationships while pursuing what she loved most – creating joy through art.

Gardner didn’t stop there, though. She expanded the scope beyond greeting cards, introducing books, calendars, and toys under the famous ‘Zelda’ brand name, which continues spreading smiles worldwide even today.

Embracing Age & Pursuing Dreams

Gardner’s story proves that age is not a barrier when chasing dreams. It can serve as motivation. Her tale serves up inspiration about embracing middle years over age 40, demonstrating it’s never too late for women wanting to explore the Midwest or anywhere else for their own social good and passion projects.

Julia Child

The American culinary scene was forever changed when Julia Child, in her 50s, brought French cuisine into our living rooms. Her iconic TV show “The French Chef” inspired home cooks, who soon began their own passion projects – in the kitchen!

“The French Chef”: A New Dawn in Culinary Education

At age 51, Julia introduced “The French Chef.” The real-time format gave viewers a feel for Ms. Child’s authenticity rather than presenting them with polished recipes.

This innovative approach garnered multiple accolades, including a Peabody Award and an Emmy, within three years of its premiere. It also stirred Americans’ interest in international cuisines. 

Julia’s journey wasn’t limited to just cooking shows. She used this platform to teach intricate dishes and instill confidence among women intimidated by complex techniques.

“The French Chef” brought a culinary revolution across America right inside households’ kitchens – all thanks to Julia’s relentless pursuit of her passion project well past middle age.

a green background with a quote from Julia Child "Find something you're passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it."

Nora Ephron

Now is the perfect time to bring up Nora Ephron since she was the director behind the film about Julia Child called Julie & Julia.  Ms. Ephron began her career as an acclaimed essayist and novelist before shifting gears in her 50s.  She moved from the realm of journalism and writing to film directing. Much like a sandy hill leading to a hidden beach, this transition was steep but rewarding.  See what I did there?  Clever analogy, isn’t it?

Diving into Film Directing

Ephron’s move wasn’t sudden or out-of-the-blue; it was an organic evolution from her high school passion project – storytelling. Her tales were known for their power to incite laughter, tears, and thoughtfulness – all part of the charm that made up her narrative style.

The first taste she had as a director came with This Is My Life. Despite initial hurdles, she navigated them like a surfer enjoying waves.  Okay – enough with the beach comparisons.  I promise.

Filmmaking Achievements

As time passed by, Ephron’s success grew. Films like Mixed Nuts and You’ve Got Mail were received warmly worldwide.  Her films charmed audiences and critics alike, leading to a slew of prestigious awards. One of her most beloved works, “When Harry Met Sally…” (1989), showcased her knack for witty dialogue and relatable characters, earning her a BAFTA nomination for Best Original Screenplay.

But Nora didn’t stop there! Her exceptional storytelling continued to shine in “Sleepless in Seattle” (1993), which scored her another BAFTA nomination for Best Original Screenplay and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Director.

And who could forget “Julie & Julia” (2009), where she masterfully weaved two remarkable true stories, landing another Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy. Nora Ephron’s films weren’t just movies; they were heartfelt experiences that earned her a special place in the hearts of cinema enthusiasts worldwide. 

Once again, age proved no barrier to Ms. Ephron’s success.  Sadly, the world said goodbye to her on June 26, 2012, at 71, but her legacy lives on through her impressive body of work.

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Roberta Scherf

Meet Roberta Scherf, a remarkable individual whose journey is as inspiring as it is intriguing.  She is the tenacious and innovative creator of PrioHealth, which focuses on cognitive assessments.  And she was in her 50s when this organization was born, demonstrating that passion knows no age boundaries.

The Birth of A Successful Venture From Personal Need

Roberta Scherf’s journey to creating PrioHealth is a testament to her passion for helping children with learning differences. It was her personal experiences as a mother that ignited the spark.

Struggling to find effective solutions for her child’s learning challenges, Roberta recognized a glaring gap in the available resources and interventions. Armed with her background in neuroscience and a fierce determination to make a difference, she founded PrioHealth.

Through PrioHealth, Roberta Scherf’s legacy continues to thrive, providing support and opportunities for children to flourish academically and emotionally.

Making An Impact Beyond Business Boundaries

Besides running a successful business post-50s, Scherf’s hard work serves as motivation for other women aged 50-80 who were also harboring dreams of entrepreneurship. Her story shows that age isn’t necessarily restrictive when starting something new.

How to Turn Your Inspiration Into Your Own Passion Project

If you’re here, you may be an amazing woman over 50. So how do you find and succeed with your very own Passion Project?   Here are a few great ideas for good passion projects to add a fresh spark to your life journey.

Blossom in Nature

Have you ever considered getting involved in a community garden? It’s not only an excellent way to reconnect with nature but also a chance to connect with others who share your interests.  Community gardens make great places to meet new friends and make a positive impact right in your local area.

Make Page-Turning Connections

And speaking of connecting, have you thought about starting a book club? It’s a captivating idea that could lead to fantastic discussions about literature, personal growth, and more. Or how about diving into a new language? Not only does it broaden your horizons, but it also connects you to different cultures in an exciting way.

Michigan Road Trips banner image with pink background and navy and white words, including an image of Michigan

Creative Expression through Short Stories

Writing short stories could be a fantastic outlet if you’re feeling creative. It’s a chance to let your imagination run wild and share your unique perspective with others. But wait, there’s more! Ever considered going back to college, even if it’s through an online course or two? It’s a brilliant opportunity to pick up new skills and give yourself a boost of confidence.

Guiding the Future

Now, if you’re feeling generous with your free time, helping high school students out with college applications or guiding a high schooler through the next step in her college admissions process could be incredibly rewarding.

And here’s a cool idea – you could chat with current college students for insights into creating a standout application to begin your own college admissions process. And remember, exploring online courses that relate to your interests or in exciting fields like artificial intelligence will satisfy your curiosity and enhance your skill set.

The most important thing to remember is that you’ve worked hard to create the skill set you have today.  An online class can only enhance that.  And at this point, you have the confidence to know that you can achieve good grades if you move at a comfortable pace.

And if you don’t get the A’s and B’s you wish, oh well.  Test scores and grades aren’t as important in your 50s as in your teens and twenties, right?

FAQs in Relation to Passion Project

What are passion project examples?

Passion projects can range from starting a small business, writing a novel, and creating an art exhibit, to launching a nonprofit organization. It’s about pursuing what you love without the pressure of it being your primary income source.

Do colleges care about passion projects?

Absolutely. Passion projects showcase creativity, initiative, and dedication – qualities colleges value. They provide insight into students’ interests outside academics and demonstrate their ability to manage long-term tasks.

What are the 6 P’s of passion projects?

The six P’s of passion projects are Personal interest, Purposeful outcome, Process over product focus, Play-based nature, Choice in Pace, and Partners for collaboration.

What is another name for passion project?

A side hustle or hobby project could be another name for a passion project. These terms emphasize the personal enjoyment and fulfillment of these endeavors rather than financial gain.

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Wrapping It All Up

Older women and Grandma entrepreneurs are genuinely inspirational.  Their stories demonstrate that age is no barrier to launching a passion project.  If you’re feeling inspired, you should be!

Embark On Your Own Meaningful Passion Project

Embarking on an independent project that includes your personal interests later in life can be an exciting and rewarding journey. As women over 50, we have the wisdom, experience, and skills to pursue our dreams fervently. Just look at the examples of successful entrepreneurs who started their ventures after hitting the half-century mark.

The same applies to us; whether you’re an aspiring jazz composer fascinated by music or want to explore local community issues through your lens – there are no limits!

A Passion Project Close To Home: Hip Grandma Life

Do these stories inspire you? Why not join me on my passion project – Hip Grandma Life?

I create content aimed at helping women in their post-50 life explore traveling to unique and compelling places just outside their back door.

I create content aimed at helping women in their post-50 life explore traveling to unique and compelling places just outside their back door.

Hip Grandma Life is also about living your best life after the kids are (mostly) grown and re-discovering who you are and what you love!  If you want to be surrounded by amazing women in the same phase of life, join my community here for FREE:  Hip Grandma Life Group.  And follow me on Facebook and Instagram as @HipGrandmaLife.

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