my story as an accidental entrepreneur

by Sharon Santoni

 

Bienvenue!   Si vous preferez lire en français, descendez plus bas sur cette page.

English version

Recently people have been asking me about being an entrepreneur …  their questions take  many different forms:

What’s it like to be an older entrepreneur?  to be a female entrepreneur?  to be an older female entrepreneur? to be an entrepreneur in France? to be an accidental entrepreneur?    Isn’t it too much work?   How do you manage to keep up with everything? …..

This is particularly on my mind at the moment as we have started a new entrepreneur section in the My French Country Home Magazine with the November issue. I  actually kicked off the series with my story, and in January I am excited to introduce you to a younger French woman with a vibrant brand whose products I simple adore.

But this month, I am led to concentrate more than normal about why and how I have become an entrepreneur, as I am invited to speak at a French conference day called Femmes et Challenges.    I’m looking forward to the event, where I’m sure there will be very many interesting and passionate women from all walks of life.  In fact for them, I am republishing this text below in French.  A first here at MFCH!

So what is it that I love about my entrepreneurial life?    If you have read me for a while you’ll know that it all started in 2010.   At the age of 50,   having been a full time mom for 20 years I needed a new direction.  A girlfriend introduced me to the world of blogging and I was immediately tempted to join in.

My French Country Home Magazine covers 2019

When I started writing the blog, it was just a place to share moments from my life in Normandy, I had no idea if anyone would read it, or even less that a simply blog may lead to any business opportunity.

I should say that I have no business training.  The daughter of a successful business man, I was always attracted to the entrepreneurial world but had never had an opportunity to test any ideas for myself.

So having started the blog, and having worked out how to use a computer, (and the internet, and the blogging software) I then had to produce the content!   For two years I published every single day, (goodness knows how I had so much to say!). I talked a lot about buying antiques, and started getting emails from people who wanted to shop with me.  I also talked about my French girlfriends and that led to a book contract but I still had no business to talk of.

In fact for the first five years of the blog there was no real commercial activity.  With hindsight I know that during that time I was building the MFCH community, and loving every minute, but it stopped there.    Believe me that is not business advice you’ll find in any economics handbook.

Fast forward to today, nearly at the end of 2019, and I work full time and then some with My Stylish French Box and the new magazine.  I have a small team of talented  dynamic women and together we work  to develop the brand.  Our boxes started in 2017, we have tours running every year and  I launched the magazine at the start of this year.

If you are thinking about your own reinvention, or maybe you have your own company, I expect that a lot of this will ring true for you too.    And while there may not be a moral to my story, I have come to realise a few of my own home truths:

It’s not about age, it’s about passion.

If you are looking to reinvent yourself, be sure to pick something you love.

Never be afraid to go against conventional wisdom – you’re doing it for YOU, not for others.

Be careful what you wish for!

And finally, because I love tales of reinvention and female entrepreneurship so much, I am offering a mini giveaway.     If you would like to tell us your story, either in the comments below, or in an email here please go ahead!      We’ll pop all the entries into a hat, and choose a winner in one weeks time, which would be Thanksgiving for my friends in the US.   The winner will receive our November box in a couple of weeks time.

Thank you for reading me, and thank you for your support and encouragement over the past years.

My Stylish French Box

Version française

Récemment, les gens n’arrêtent pas de me poser des questions sur le métier d’entrepreneur… leurs questions prennent de nombreuses formes différentes :

Qu’est-ce que c’est que d’être un entrepreneur plus âgé ? d’être une femme entrepreneur ? d’être une femme entrepreneur plus âgée ? d’être un entrepreneur en France ? d’être un entrepreneur par accident ?    N’est-ce pas trop de travail ? arrivez-vous à tout suivre ? …….

C’est ce qui me préoccupe particulièrement en ce moment, car nous avons commencé un nouveau numéro de novembre de la section que j’ai donné le coup d’envoi de la série, et en janvier, je serai ravie de vous présenter une jeune Française avec une marque dynamique dont j’adore tout simplement les produits.

Mais ce mois-ci, je suis amenée à me concentrer plus que d’habitude sur le pourquoi et le comment de ma vie d’entrepreneur, alors que je suis invitée à prendre la parole lors d’une journée de conférence en français intitulée Femmes et Challenges.    J’attends avec impatience l’événement, où je suis certaine qu’il y aura de très nombreuses femmes intéressantes et passionnées de tous les horizons.  En fait, pour eux, je réédite ce texte ci-dessous en français.  Une première ici à la MFCH !

Alors, qu’est-ce que j’aime dans ma vie d’entrepreneur ?    Si vous m’avez lu pendant un certain temps, vous savez que tout a commencé en 2010.   À l’âge de 50 ans, après avoir été mère à temps plein pendant 20 ans, j’avais besoin d’une nouvelle orientation.  Une petite amie m’a fait découvrir le monde des blogs et j’ai tout de suite été tenté d’y participer.

Quand j’ai commencé à écrire le blog, c’était juste un endroit pour partager des moments de ma vie en Normandie, je n’avais aucune idée si quelqu’un me lirait, ou encore moins qu’un simple blog pourrait mener à n’importe quelle opportunité d’affaires.

Je dois dire que je n’ai aucune formation en affaires.  Fille d’un homme d’affaires prospère, j’ai toujours été attirée par le monde de l’entreprise, mais je n’avais jamais eu l’occasion de tester des idées par moi-même.

Après avoir commencé le blog, et après avoir trouvé comment utiliser un ordinateur (et l’Internet, et le logiciel de blogage), j’ai dû produire le contenu !   Pendant deux ans, j’ai publié tous les jours, (Dieu sait comment j’avais tant de choses à dire !).    J’ai beaucoup parlé d’acheter des antiquités et j’ai commencé à recevoir des courriels de gens qui voulaient magasiner avec moi.  J’ai aussi parlé de mes amies françaises, ce qui m’a permis d’obtenir un contrat pour un livre, mais je n’avais toujours pas à en parler.

En fait, pendant les cinq premières années du blog, il n’y a pas eu de véritable activité commerciale.  Avec le recul, je sais qu’à cette époque, j’étais en train de bâtir la communauté de la MFCH et j’aimais chaque minute, mais ça s’est arrêté là.    Croyez-moi, ce ne sont pas des conseils d’affaires que vous trouverez dans n’importe quel manuel d’économie.

Aujourd’hui, presque à la fin de 2019, et je travaille à temps plein et même plus.  J’ai une petite équipe de femmes talentueuses et dynamiques et nous travaillons ensemble pour développer la marque.  Nos coffrets My Stylish French Box ont commencé en 2017, nous avons des Tours dans des régions de la France tous les ans et j’ai bien sûr lancé le magazine au début de cette année.

Si vous pensez à votre propre réinvention, ou peut-être que vous avez votre propre entreprise, je m’attends à ce que beaucoup de choses sonnent vrai pour vous aussi.    Et bien qu’il n’y ait pas de morale dans mon histoire, j’en suis venu à réaliser quelques-unes de mes propres vérités :

Ce n’est pas une question d’âge, c’est une question de passion.

Si vous cherchez à vous réinventer, assurez-vous de choisir quelque chose que vous aimez.

N’ayez jamais peur d’aller à l’encontre des idées reçues – vous le faites pour VOUS, pas pour les autres.

Faites vous plaisir!

Et enfin, parce que j’aime tant les histoires de réinvention et d’entreprenariat féminin, j’offre un mini cadeau.     Si vous souhaitez nous raconter votre histoire, soit dans les commentaires ci-dessous, soit dans un email ici, n’hésitez pas !      Nous mettrons toutes les entrées dans un chapeau, et choisirons un gagnant dans une semaine, ce qui serait Thanksgiving pour mes amis aux Etats-Unis.   Le gagnant recevra notre boîte de novembre dans quelques semaines.

Merci de m’avoir lu et merci de votre soutien et de vos encouragements au cours des dernières années.

 

99 comments

Cindy Cummings November 22, 2019 - 4:42 am

Hi Sharon! So lovely to hear more about your start as an entrepreneur!

Reply
Sharon Santoni November 22, 2019 - 6:16 pm

Thank you Cindy 🙂

Reply
Dale Ballard November 23, 2019 - 2:54 pm

My entrepreneurial experience was so successful that I suffered burnout!
I am an artist and started to dabble in etched glass, selling wine glasses etched with images of Canadian icons such as bear, moose, loon, canoes etc. I singularly etched approximately 25,000 glasses over just under eight years! I looked into having my product mass produced but was never happy with the machine etching. I was selling as much as I could produce, but I was so tired of doing them -all my other endeavours were on hold. I finally decided that I would prefer to just stop and return to my other artistic pursuits. I view it as a successful failure, that is, to have stopped while still in huge demand.
I am happily returning to my painting and perhaps dabbling in pottery or welding….

Reply
Jill louise Campbell November 22, 2019 - 10:38 pm

Hi Sharon many thanks for sharing your inspirational life!
My journey began when we took a year to live in a remote hamlet in Provence with our school aged daughters. They attended a one room school in the hamlet while I visioned painting with watercolours. I bought paints and began painting my surroundings in rural France. Upon returning to Canada my husbands dream was to build our home from design, milling wood from our forest on Salt Spring Island where we chose to make our forever home. We needed an income, I had a huge portfolio of paintings from France, our island home had a sought after Saturday market and so a business was born! I took my paintings to the market, amazing my France paintings sold well, I made money for groceries and was thrilled people liked my work. Soon I had a portfolio of Salt Spring Island paintings that gave a unique perspective steeped in the rural Provence nurturing environment that birthed my original paintings from living in The Luberon area of France. Unusual, bright, whimsical my paintings unschooled were well accepted. I entered every show up and down the British Columbia coast while my husband looked after daughters, and fulfilled his desire of building a house. We lived in a tent on the property but luckily he saw my potential and built a studio for me even before the house was completed. Within two years I opened a commercial gallery. Today 30years later my solo gallery welcomes visitors from around the world. It generates an income that provides me travel all over the world that become the subjects of my paintings and art collections.. I am blessed to have a good following, strong supportive husband and two daughters who each have their own creative successful Expression. And yes I continue to travel in France for inspiration in our gallery quiet off season . I paint and write stories about its beloved landscape and villages. My secret is, surrender to my passion, stay truthful to my expression, support my family and community, take the nurturing time needed to renew and refresh.
Warmest wishes everyone Jill

Reply
Liza November 23, 2019 - 10:06 am

Jill, this is such an uplifting story of your life. I forwarded your video to friends & fam!
Liza

Reply
Jill Louise Campbell November 23, 2019 - 6:27 pm

Thankyou Lisa! I am a believer in the strength of shared story. As story tellers our lives can be the inspiration to navigate a life we choose. Yes, sovereign we each have a hero’s quest to fulfil.
J

Reply
Alicia November 23, 2019 - 7:30 am

Hi Sharon,

My journey?…. well, I’m not sure what that was or is yet … after raising three kids I have no idea what to do anymore. I have been a stay home mom for over 20 years and this is a new beginning for me. I have felt lost not knowing what do next and I have, as you, started a blog just so that I can release my creative side…. and perhaps rekindle my love for decorating and making spaces beautiful. My blog has helped me remember myself and what I love. It is hard to think of yourself or of what you love, when for many years you never did. I know that for now I am loving to decorate spaces and I am hoping to inspire anyone who sees my work at home… perhaps one day I can do it as a business.

Reply
Margaret Lawhon Schott November 23, 2019 - 8:15 pm

Bonjour, Sharon et tout le monde! Last evening I read “My Story As an Accidental Entrepreneur,” in total amazement at the timing of your message in my life. What struck me most was first, the fact that you seemed to be reading my mind, and second your list of “home truths” about following your passion, forging your own path, and being ready to be surprised at what develops. After 20+ years in television news, film work, and the visual arts, I found myself in 2017 at age 60, realizing the culmination of my varied pursuits in starting a French antiques import business with my partners here in Louisiana. As a life-long lover of France, the French people, and as a Francophone, my dream began taking shape two years ago in the form of our business, “Folie à Trois.” Our pop-up store (boutique ephemère) opens once again this holiday season after Thanksgiving here in Baton Rouge. For me, this is a time of reflection and deep gratitude that my truest passion is bearing fruit. Hard work? You bet! Scary times not knowing if we’re onto something that will resonate with others? For sure! Worth every effort to create a new, exciting, fulfilling chapter in life? Amen! Kudos, Sharon, for inspiring so many of us around the world, and FELICITATIONS on your continued success!

Reply
Mathilda November 22, 2019 - 6:30 am

I feel like my story is much the same as yours. I had kids… did the whole soccer mom thing and afterschool activities… and then just like that they were grown and I had so much time on my hands. I started a group amongst my friends for quilting and crafting which slowly turned into monthly meet ups.. I’m still thinking where this could go but think it’s a good start!

Reply
Sharon Santoni November 22, 2019 - 6:17 pm

Isn’t it amazing how getting creative always seems to be central to our reinvention paths?!

Sharon
x

Reply
Deborah Griffin November 23, 2019 - 1:42 pm

Thank you for the inspiration!
Deborah

Reply
Annie M November 22, 2019 - 6:49 am

What an exciting giveaway! Congratulations on your upcoming conference…. xx Annie

Reply
Melissa Strauss November 22, 2019 - 7:28 am

I’ve always had a passion for making bouquets, learned it from my Grandma and always had beautiful arrangements around the house. My friends would come over and always commented on the bouquets, asking questions about how I did them, and seeing if maybe I could do one for a party they had coming up?.. Then the requests just started increasing – one friend talked to another, then another, and suddenly I had a little business (with little ones in tow). It’s fairly new for me and really exciting so I’m adamantly reading blogs about other business owners and gleaning tips…. it’s a lot of work… but when it’s a passion! So happy to now have this in my life!

Reply
Sharon Santoni November 22, 2019 - 6:18 pm

Well done Melissa! how could making bouquets not make you happy?! I find that other women entrepreneur are very generous in supporting and helping think through ideas, so don’t hesitate to ask around your friends and colleagues for tips on getting going 🙂

Sharon
x

Reply
Antonella Forni November 22, 2019 - 9:41 pm

Credo fortemente che il futuro sarà sempre di più femminile. Queste donne instancabili e piene di meravigliose idee salveranno il mondo !

Reply
Lisa November 23, 2019 - 4:42 pm

I had worked in a salon for 12 years. I loved working in a salon, always bustling with people who were so happy to be there and I loved making them better than they were when they walked through those doors. So I was so sad when our owners decided to retire and close the salon, but I had small babies at home so we decided I’d stay home and take care of them and realized a passion that I discovered now that I had more time at home….organizing… EVERYTHING! So I’ve no been a Professional Organizer for the past 10 years and I love it! I’d never have guessed my path would have led me here but I’m so grateful!

Reply
Kate Hampshire November 22, 2019 - 8:39 am

Lovely post Sharon.
I was a teacher but my love was always sewing. When I retired I started making silk pillowcases for myself. My hairdresser was so impressed with the improvements in
My hair that he asked if he could sell some for me. So my accidental business was born. I decided that any profit I made would go towards travelling to New Zealand to see my son and his growing family. I’m delighted to say I’m going for two months in December and January. Power to the needle!

Reply
Stacy Ferayorni November 22, 2019 - 3:51 pm

So exciting! Coming from a corporate background in finance for over 15 years, my career stopped when I my oldest was 3, I decided to be a full time stay at home mom. I was 42. My youngest was just one. The beginning of my adult life was busy with working in the corporate world. With a year off for a sabbatical in Paris for a year. Today, I have a 16 and a 13 year old. I have loved being home with them. When my son leaves for college in 5 years, I intend to travel with my husband. Definitely on our list is a visit Normandy for an extended stay.

Reply
Sharon Santoni November 22, 2019 - 6:20 pm

Sounds like heaven Stacy! 🙂

sharon

x

Reply
Deborah November 22, 2019 - 8:51 am

Hello!
I have put down the book I was reading, your “My Stylish French Girlfriends” to find and read your blog. I’m loving it, especially as I’ve just found as a retired but highly qualified teacher, I am employable for many little, but very satisfying, jobs. I have just spent three weeks invigilating/supervising university entrance exams and really enjoyed it. This work has led to other offers. All rather exciting!

Reply
Sharon Santoni November 22, 2019 - 6:21 pm

This sounds great Deborah, it’s wonderful when we still feel so useful and involved

Sharon

x

Reply
Mary Allor December 26, 2019 - 1:34 am

Enjoyed reading your post. First time learning about your story. Love the concept of reinventing yourself.
As a caregiver for my husband its been a challenge to save Mary. But lately I read about mature age women finding themselves wanting to find that life spark and reinventing their life.
Your story has inspired me to fine away back to Mary. Your retreat is probably beyond my expertise & finance. But enjoy entertaining the idea of traveling to a foreign country & learning from successful women.
Reinventing this chapter of my life journey must include learning how to blog! Lol

Reply
Victoria Savu November 22, 2019 - 1:10 pm

Bonjour Sharon,
I have read your story before since I have been reading your blog since 2013. I love reading it again because you always inspire me. I love the quote, “It’s not about age, it’s about passion. ” I just turned 70 and although I have never become a successful business women, I have always added a little money to the household with small adventures. Last year we made a room in our cellar into a bakery and I have been baking and selling bake goods especially during the holidays. I also host beautiful teas in my home and we are adding on to your house a room that I plan on using for a tea room. I might try providing small teas for clubs and groups of friends. I might or might not be successful but that is not what is most important to me. It is about continuing to do what is my passion no matter my age.
Keep on bring us beauty. Victoria XX

Reply
Victoria Savu November 22, 2019 - 1:15 pm

Obviously I can’t blog. I went to proof read my comment and hit something wrong and posted it instead. Please excuse the incoherent story. I will blame it on being 70. Lol

Reply
Sharon Santoni November 22, 2019 - 6:23 pm

Thank you for your comment Victoria, and no worries about the proof reading 🙂 Your tea room sounds like such a fun idea and a great outlet for your home baking 🙂 Thank you for reading the blog for such a long time, your name is certainly very familiar to me:)

Sharon

x

Reply
Taste of France November 22, 2019 - 1:55 pm

I started reading you from near the beginning, and I went back and read the archives, when the old format allowed that, like catching up on previous episodes of a new series one has just discovered. You were (and still are) a great resource for learning about French antiques.
Congratulations on creating your own success!

Reply
Sharon Santoni November 22, 2019 - 6:23 pm

thank you!

Reply
ParisGrrl November 22, 2019 - 2:10 pm

My move to France was unexpected, and I feel like I’m still reinventing myself–it’s a good challenge!

Reply
Sabine Schmidt November 22, 2019 - 2:20 pm

Hello Sharon,

greetings from Germany. Normally I act here as a silent Reader, but for this nice present I will make an exception.

I am at the moment in the position, to look what the future will bring. After 30 years of working as a project manager, my department will be relocated in another country, where I will not go. So I have to look what I want to do with the rest of my business life. Will I start following my dreams( I studied interior design, but didn´t end it and your example encourages) or will I go back in a normal project position. So much possibilities and I am excited to see, what I will do in the future….

Have a contemplative time

Sabine

Reply
Sharon Santoni November 22, 2019 - 6:25 pm

Thank you for coming out of the shadows to leave this comment, and congratulations on this exciting bend in your life

sharon

x

Reply
Christina Serrano November 26, 2019 - 1:21 am

Hi Sharon,

I’ve been following you for awhile now. I first discovered you when I saw your beautiful home on Pinterest. Loving all things French, I was drawn to the beauty and details in your work. I like many of the above posts had three kids and was a stay at home mom. I went back to school for Interior Design and started my own business about 10 years ago. What I love about the magazine and books is getting to learn more about France through the many featured articles. I also love the spirit of excellence in all you do. I would be thrilled to win the November box! It would be a treasured gift!

Reply
Brenda Stalnaker November 22, 2019 - 2:34 pm

I am 72 but my brain thinks it is 52. I am a trained and successful nurse who became a national healthcare consultant. I have loved to create since a child and do lots of cross stitching, the very intricate “this took a year to make” type. A couple years ago I became enthralled with costume jewelry Reinventions. I just made six miniature Christmas tree using my son’s deceased mother in law’s costume jewelry. The purpose is to give Abuella’s memorabilia to her 4 children as a remembrance Would live to attach a photograph of same if I can figure out how. .

Reply
Carolyne November 22, 2019 - 2:35 pm

Dear Sharon, thank you for sharing your story of reinvention. It is the backstory, (of struggle, hard work, plans or lack of) behind a successful enterprise that gives budding entrepreneurs hope. Bravo on your successes!

Reply
Linda November 22, 2019 - 2:38 pm

My story is not too unusual in these days, I am raising my granddaughter and now widowed. Not what I envisioned for my life but can not see my life any other way at this time. I sacrificed my dream job as a little gift store owner in a retirement community for this life I am now living….and wonder what the years will hold for me in a few years when my granddaughter goes off to college. Until then I dream and look through pages of all things of beautiful french country living. As we all know anything is possible…….

Reply
Betty Bullen November 22, 2019 - 2:45 pm

Loved reading your story and learning more about you. Me, well I had a 30-year career in the financial industry as a licensed broker. Retired in 2004 to care for my aging Mom. Took up painting as a hobby never dreaming it would become a business. Was invited to show my work at a local festival and sold 11 of my original paintings. Now have collectors all over the world and love being an Artist.

Reply
g Swinford November 22, 2019 - 2:45 pm

After being an office manager \, at fifty years of age, I opened my first gift shop. I then became a sales rep for different companies , calling on girt shops in my home state of S.C. Now retired, I still enjoy beautiful things and would love your box.

Reply
Karen Mary November 22, 2019 - 2:48 pm

I so enjoyed reading your story, Sharon. I started my first blog recently, at age 65 (though I’ve had my own freelance writing business for over 30 years). I have high hopes and am encouraged hearing other women’s stories of blogging success, so thanks for sharing this — and your beautiful blog!

Reply
Karen in VA November 22, 2019 - 3:05 pm

… Lovely to hear your story. It sounds like you started blogging when I stumbled into following a few blogs. It’s been a delight following you … and your beautiful photographs. Well done. x

Reply
Michelle November 22, 2019 - 3:12 pm

I’m actually about to turn 50 and have just left a career that I loved but became a profession of “ spin” rather than that which I was originally drawn to. The profession became a vehicle of harm not good, so I stopped working in that field, refusing to wield the instrument, the profession had lost its magic and meaning. Now…we’ll lm a bit lost and hoping my new path emerges as I meander along. It’s a curious place to be.

Reply
Carole November 23, 2019 - 3:08 pm

Love reading all of these wonderful stories from so many courageous women from all over the world. The passion and drive is so inspirational. I am also in my 50’s (57) with 3 grown children. My husband is retired and we moved from NY to North Carolina a few years ago to follow a dream of living in the country with horses and chickens and starting a bed and breakfast and wedding venue. It was a very big move for me leaving a large circle of family and friends who I saw almost daily to essentially being just the 2 of us and navigating so much alone and outside of my comfort zone. I was able to relocate with my company, so I am fortunate to have the same full time income while we go through all that is required to prepare the property. Our daughter is getting married in June on the property which will be our “test” event. We’ve completed quite a bit so far and I am hoping to retire from the corporate world in 3 years. I don’t know of any woman who is looking forward to turning 60 as much as I am!

Thank you Sharon for this forum. I love your blog, your books and especially LOVE your magazine.

Reply
Norma Jean Watkins November 22, 2019 - 3:12 pm

I just ordered your holiday magazine and am looking forward to receiving it.

Reply
Marge November 22, 2019 - 3:18 pm

It started with a dog. My young family was moving to the country and my husband wanted a dog for a companion for myself while the children were at school and he at work. He wanted a Samoyed and I had my heart set on a setter. We compromised on a golden retriever. Then two. I got involved in the show ring and using my girls in field trials. With great success. Puppies followed and then a kennel. When my husband passed away suddenly leaving me with three small children it became a full time job. I guess you could call it a Golden opportunity.

Reply
Rachel Larensen November 22, 2019 - 3:23 pm

Hello!
My business is starting in the Spring.
After 40 years as a chef and baker I decided I was burnt out and I decided to take a management position. Two years later the passion for baking started to show its face again.
But I don’t have extra money.
A dear friend was getting married and asked me to bake her wedding cake. Despite my home kitchen being small, I produced 100 cupcakes and a layer cake for 30. It was a grand success and everyone loved the cakes. A guest at the reception, whom I’d just met asked if, with no initial investment, I’d like to make wedding cakes for her developing wedding venue, a beautiful Northern Connecticut Farm. I said yes! And the rest is going smoothly. The planning is all done, we’re waiting for the new building to be done and going to wedding shows. I think you know how exciting this is! I’ve wanted my own business for my whole life and at 59 years old, it’s a dream come true!

Reply
Susan Rode November 22, 2019 - 3:23 pm

Thank you for sharing your journey to a creative life..It is inspirational to me for so many reason…I love that you allowed yourself the space to dream in your 50s and just begin the process, one step at a time..moving toward what gives you joy and sustains your inner self..I have had a full life as both a registered nurse and later a psychotherapist. As I am about to turn 70, I bought my first home only a year ago…and I am opening myself up to gardening as much as possible..Always a passion I hope for it to blossom into something as it unfolds step by step..Vegertables, herbs , flowers, a garden cottage to create…
I already was fortunate to receive the November French box..but I wanted to post anyway..My mother passed suddenly when she was 71…and as I approach this next decade the promise of creating “another self”..another life chapter….another dream. …..beacons me..Thank you for sharing yours

Reply
Molly November 22, 2019 - 3:25 pm

At age 42 I found myself speaking French to my 5 year old daughter and her friends. One of the friend’s fathers said to me “You are always speaking French to the girls, why not start a class?”….
and so began my “entrepreneur” story – from a little class of 5 girls in “la cave” of my house, to present day classes of 35 adults whom I teach at a local church, and also, still, in “la cave!” (only now we have comfortable chairs instead of sitting on the floor.) My French major and Junior Year Abroad living in Aix-en-Provence with a French family were instrumental in allowing me to pursue my present day passion of teaching and sharing my love of France and the French language.
I would love to win “la boite!”

Reply
Teresa Perkins November 22, 2019 - 3:27 pm

Sharon your story instagram and blog inspire me to see beauty with another softer, more elegant eye. The few times I have visited France, I have always been intrigued by the exquisite light and sophisticated beauty. Your stories and photographs are delightful reminders of those times.
My tiny little businesses came about because I like to create. As a child we didn’t have much and I would make my own toys. That grew into making my own clothes which morphed into making clothes for others and eventually wedding gowns. After years of that, I took a break, but my busy hands needed to be occupied! And that started my second creative entrance into making something that I sell. I now make jewelry, incorporating many of those former dressmaking techniques, using little gemstones, pearls, silk threads, crocheted cords and tiny antique buttons as closures. And now that I am 60 and have the advantage of choosing what I do, I appreciate the fact that I am able to ‘create’ beautiful things with my hands! What a blessing.

Reply
Di November 22, 2019 - 3:57 pm

Love your story – at 66 I’m still inventing myself! So inspiring to hear how others are finding their passions later in life & acting on them! Fun to see so many “late bloomers”!!

Reply
Liz Teel November 22, 2019 - 3:34 pm

I am deeply inspired by your posts, pictures, sense of style, and love of life! Congratulations on your success!

Reply
maude ciardi November 22, 2019 - 3:41 pm

I too had a new business at 50. I am an artist and it grew from my love for painting. It was amazing following my dream. I raised 6 children and many grandchildren. Some came to work with my daughter and also had a passion for art! I am now 78 years old still dabbling and selling prints. Thank you so much for your blog! Have a blessed Thanksgiving

Reply
moneca kruse November 22, 2019 - 3:48 pm

What interesting life stories! I’m 72 and when I turned 40, my 5 children all left the nest, and it was time for me to be what I wanted to be. But what was it that I wanted to be? I didn’t know exactly, so I spent my time managing a health store for a while, travelling with my husband while working in the summers, and basically doing the things that I enjoy. Now that time has raced by I enjoy turning my own home into more of a French styled home and am enjoying it terribly much. Can’t ever get enough of the Frenchey for me!

Reply
Vicky from Athens November 22, 2019 - 3:49 pm

Sharon, you are such an inspiration to many a woman who may be thinking “What now?” Thanks for sharing your journey!

Reply
Kim November 22, 2019 - 3:49 pm

I LOVE your story! And, you are so right when you mention that being successful and happy has nothing to do with age. I started my Luxe du Jour blog a little over a year ago after a long career in the automotive industry as a compliance consultant. Having a creative outlet was exactly what I needed when a large corporation purchased our company. We were given a two year non-compete agreement, and creating the blog was the perfect outlet. Ok, now I will tell you — I started this at age 63. Most people will envision an older person when they hear 63 years old. Fortunately, I enjoy good health and live a vibrant and fulfilled life. No one ever guesses my age, and I continue to lead the life similar to that of a 50-something. I wish you continued success, and love following your blog. Best, KIm

Reply
Bonnie November 22, 2019 - 3:55 pm

You are such an inspiration! Thank you for sharing your passion and beautiful life.
I am 61 and single, no kids, had a corporate career with international travel and expatriate stints, I am happy to have time to live more simply and be more creative. I speak Portuguese, Spanish and some French. My current dream is to blog about traveling for extended stays overseas with my recently adopted very calm 7 pound Maltese Poodle, Lily. If you or anyone has suggestions, please share!

Reply
Louise Beauchamp November 22, 2019 - 3:56 pm

Chère Sharon, que d’inspiration vous m’apporter,. J’ai pris ma retraite l’an dernier à l’âge de 57 ans ( j’avoue, beaucoup trop jeune) et depuis je cherche ma voie. Je crois l’avoir trouvé et avec la lecture que je viens de faire de votre beau message le petit coup de pied qui me manquait. Merci à vous pour l’inspiration.. Bonne journée et longue vie à vous.

Reply
Jean Creighton November 22, 2019 - 3:59 pm

Dear Sharon,
I’m nearly 80 and have no grand story to tell. I love reading yours. Your home and garden, your business, beauty around you, all are heartwarming. We need to see beauty. I love reading about your tours and wish…
I lost my husband 3 years ago and have a room in my daughter and son-in-laws home with my grandson. They are very kind to me. I love reading about your magazine and gift box and surely would love to see one. Your life is encouraging and inspiring. May you enjoy it for many, many years. God Bless you.

Reply
Sue November 22, 2019 - 4:02 pm

I made my first YouTube video to answer a question about how to store brown sugar long-term that a few of my friends had posed to me. Through the use of a video, I demonstrated for them how I did it. I thought that only my 5 friends would view the video. Little did I know that when I posted the video on YouTube, the entire world had access to it. Thousands of people have viewed that first, amateurish, simple video. Many requests came in for other kitchen how-to videos and a YouTube channel was born. A weekly internet radio show followed. It’s been a wild ride but when I get comments like, “My mother died when I was young and no one ever taught me how to properly make a biscuit…”, my heart is warmed and I know I’m making a difference in people’s lives.

Reply
Lorrie November 22, 2019 - 4:40 pm

I enjoyed reading your post, Sharon, as well as the stories in the comments. It’s never too late to begin something new. After spending 21 years overseas with my family, working for a non-profit organization, we moved back to Canada. I found myself at a loose end; my children were about to leave the nest and what was I to do? I always loved French and so began a 4 year French degree, graduating with high honours when I was 53. Now I teach French and Spanish at a local high school, and love being with these teenagers. Recently, I accompanied a group of 12 students to Spain and it was so lovely to see them experience the delights of travel and of engaging with a different culture and language. I’m 63 now, and planning to teach for a couple more years, but I’m thinking ahead to what I’ll do next!

Reply
Gretchen Lott November 22, 2019 - 4:43 pm

Your story inspires us all. I am reading through the comments above and finding how much your influence helps us all!!! Keep us the good word, beautiful photos and pretty boxes! Your magazine is awesome too!

Reply
Wendy Y Webb November 22, 2019 - 4:49 pm

My story is quite similar. I was a stay-at-home then homeschool mom for 23 years. Now with an empty nest I’m working on a business that I started at 46. I’ll be 50 next month. Getting to know who I am now vs. a 21 year old new mom has been interesting to say the least!

Reply
Linda Mahkovec November 22, 2019 - 5:03 pm

Hi Sharon – I too am usually a silent reader of the blog and I’ve never written about my entrepreneurial goals, but after reading all these amazing stories, and since my goals have a connection to you and MFCH, I’ve decided to join the storytellers here. I always wanted to be a writer and after I finished my degree in English, I decided the time had come to put my writings in order, finish pieces, and pursue my dream. Now, almost twelve years later, I’m well on my way. I just completed a seven-book series of stories of love and family that take place on the US home front during WWII – The Christmastime series. About ten years ago, I came across your lovely blog by accident when I was looking for just the right image for the cover of a novel I was working on – The Garden House. I wanted a beautiful garden at dusk that would evoke a sense of mystery, longing, and beauty. I searched and searched online, and one day I found a photograph of your home (with golden light spilling from an open door onto white flowers). My heart lifted – there it was! The perfect photo. I tracked down the owner of the photograph to you! And you graciously allowed me to purchase the image. (After all these years, I still say Thank You!) The surprising irony, as I was to discover, was how closely my character’s story mirrored the story you related in your blog (an artistic woman/empty nester reinventing herself after many years, the importance of her garden, family, creating beauty…)
In addition to finding the perfect photo for my book, your blog posts nourished my dreams of being a writer. I was so impressed by what you were doing – celebrating the beauty of the day-to-day with love. Flowers, gatherings, stories of your life in Normandy and trips to Paris, and all those breath-taking photos. Your story – and those of your followers and French girlfriends – bolstered my own dreams and made me feel like I was part of a network of older women doing amazing things. Your message of it never being too late and of making the most out of life still resonates. Thank you for being a living example of the excitement and rewards of following your dreams.
Linda

Reply
Lauren Schreiber November 22, 2019 - 5:21 pm

It is wonderful hearing your story, it has given me strength during a particularly hard time, that I still have so much to do and look forward to!

Reply
Sari Ojala November 22, 2019 - 5:52 pm

Hi Sharon, you have so inspirational story, and you write so well.

Remember buying antique candle holders from your old site, reading all posts about the horses, dog, flower arrangments – and actually reading it all from the beginning! Since you were living the life I really liked.

After a severe riding accident I knew I wouldn’t be motivated to work in int. business without ability anymore to ride and let the steam off via horse life. So, 4 years ago I decided to go back to school to become a professional gardener, and start a gardening / garden design business on my own. So happy I did it, it has been the best thing that has happened to me. Great decision and now feels like I’m living best years and soon turning 50. Making each autumn inspirational trips to Normandy, working hard during the season when my clients are on holiday and mostly enjoying life to the fullest all year round -so nice for a person, who loves autumn and its colors, wants to stay outdoors 24/7 and get hand dirty and always thought that summer holiday in July was not for me.

Reply
Cindy Stierhoff November 22, 2019 - 5:53 pm

All the beautiful stories told here today are so inspiring…Sharon…you bring the best out in these ladies. I am 69 and still a struggling artist…in this world of so much beauty..I will always find the beauty, be it a lemon, hydrangea, an old family photo..whatever brings a smile to my face that day. This year my holiday card I create each year for friends and family is called “Find The Jolly”..a charming Santa face will be waiting for each and everyone…we all need to BELIEVE.

Reply
Sonya B November 22, 2019 - 6:08 pm

thank you for sharing, so inspirational!

Reply
Jan Taliercio November 22, 2019 - 6:11 pm

It’s amazing, this journey called life! Thank you for sharing your joie! As for me, first a teacher, then stay at home mom, a successful home accessories store owner, now retired and living the life of a happy interior designer. I write a weekly email to other women golfers, that I could see turning into a blog. It was recommended that I publish my emails for their humor and creativity. I just might have to keep pushing those years back to have more time! Thank you, Sharon, for your inspiration! Jan

Reply
Blanca Martinez November 22, 2019 - 6:13 pm

Hi Sharon,
Love your story, besides being very talented you’re successful because you’re a good person.
Since I remember I always had to work to provide me and my family. The only dream Joe I had was a as a florist in Beverly Hills Ca, where I stared as a delivery person and ended with a title that was hard for me to pronounce, Senior head designer.
I have a passion for flowers. About 10 years ago I left the jobs that Where boring for me and by faith I took a jewelry design class, I loved it! Now I’m a award winning artist, I love to create! I love photography, music, I’m a Writer and won 2 awards, I design a logo for a contest and won second place, I design a Tiara for a contest for a jewelry magazine and was one of the winners and my design was published in the magazine!! That was amazing! Life had its ups and downs and now I’m planning on staring again to do what I love to do, and give form to my small business, My Restored Tiara

Reply
Wendi Yates November 22, 2019 - 6:14 pm

I think that I have followed your journey Sharon almost from the beginning. And I think I started my entrepreneurial adventure around the same time too! In 2009, I opened C’est Cheese Please!, a fine frommagerie and gourmet food store here in Cambridge, Ontario. It has been a journey, n’est ce pas? I still own and cherish the beautiful French body pitcher that I purchased from your Brocante shop! One day, I will join you on one of your fantastic sounding tours but in the meantime, Salute to women entrepreneurs, young and old, of all nationalities….WE ROCK! (pardon the lack of an accent, but I still can’t figure out how to get the alternative keys on this new computer!!)

Reply
Leslie Lord November 22, 2019 - 6:16 pm

I have followed your blog for a long time Sharon and admire your beautiful home and garden. You have invested so much time and effort in your newly redesigned career and the spin offs must be so rewarding!
While I have not reinvented myself I have given myself permission to follow a dream…which is travelling to France.
I am a constant student at the local French class taught me a lovely young woman from Normandy.
I visited Paris and the SW of France in 2015 and have just returned this months from a 3 week holiday in Italy and Provence with a sublime 3 days in Paris.
I continue to work in my garden tending my David Austin roses, delight in family time with my grandchildren and enjoy taking care of our small heritage listed arts and crafts bungalow.
I love your books, receiving the The Stylish French box and magazine…they allow me to keep the Francophile Dream alive in between my travels to France.
XO

Reply
Rochelle November 22, 2019 - 6:37 pm

I read your blog but have never commented. I love hearing your story behind the business that you have created. I am currently practicing law but am winding down my career and looking for the next thing to do in that phase of my life. I’ve signed up for some writing courses and workshops and hope to write that book that all of believe are in us.

Reply
Anne W November 22, 2019 - 6:51 pm

I also read your inspiring and beautifully written (and photographed) blog but have not commented before. I raised 9 children & still work in corporate America. A job I love but nearing retirement age (but I’m fighting it) so I would love to reinvent myself to live passionately. Your post today has got me thinking about it. Thank you! And one day I hope to participate in one of your enticing tours.

Reply
Marianne C Whitman November 22, 2019 - 6:54 pm

Dear Sharon, have faith in yourself. You are so talented and warm and interesting and fun and this was meant to be. You are very creative and needed this outlet to do, to be, to connect with so many people who are so fond of and admire you, of which I am one. Your flowers are beautiful too. I just hope you find some time to relax, wind down a bit and sleep well too. Marianne

Reply
Claudette Donaldson November 22, 2019 - 8:01 pm

I have not received my Nov/December issue and have a subscription that started in February. I purchased the January issue. I have also been charged for two issues that I did not purchasers they should have been included in the subscription. I can’t find how it address this. Please advice.

Reply
Alaine November 22, 2019 - 8:35 pm

Dear Sharon, I am a relatively new reader of your Blog and enjoy it very much. In the last 10 years, my 60’s, I have realised 2 dreams I had when very young.
Firstly, I had wanted to be an architect, and had been drawing house plans to scale since I was 11 years old but this was considered not womanly and the men in my family laughed a lot and mocked me for my ambition. I had no support so that ambition became dormant. Then 8 years ago I enrolled in a 3 year part time interior design course, which I completed, and
i have been able to use this skill to help friends with their home alterations and makeovers, as well as use the knowledge to help with my property projects.
Secondly, I had always enjoyed acting and trying different characters as a child, and excelling at the rural school’s fancy dress and concert events in the early 60’s, but I let my husband and others discourage me from taking drama classes and be involved in theatre. Then, via my dear daughter, who was employed as a front of house and usher person in a well known theatre, she had an allocation of free tickets to give to whoever she wanted, so I got to see a huge variety of drama and musicals over a whole year. It was here I discovered Improvisation style of theatre, and, after several years of watching them I finally enrolled in classes in 2015. I have since performed 44 times in front of a paying audience, and this set of skills has made me at last feel fulfilled and satisfied, and I have met and made friends with dozens of others who are also enjoying this art form. In July this year I travelled to Canada ( from NZ) to participate in the Loose Moose International Summer school at Calgary, and this was truly fun and very fulfilling. I am bout to sell my home in the suburbs, and move nearer to the theatre I am a member of here in Auckland, to have an inner city lifestyle where I can walk to many of the activities I enjoy. Thank you for your blog and insights in to life in France
– really appreciate reading the stories of the other older women’s ambitions and activities.

Reply
Alaine November 22, 2019 - 8:36 pm

Dear Sharon, I am a relatively new reader of your Blog and enjoy it very much. In the last 10 years, my 60’s, I have realised 2 dreams I had when very young.
Firstly, I had wanted to be an architect, and had been drawing house plans to scale since I was 11 years old but this was considered not womanly and the men in my family laughed a lot and mocked me for my ambition. I had no support so that ambition became dormant. Then 8 years ago I enrolled in a 3 year part time interior design course, which I completed, and
i have been able to use this skill to help friends with their home alterations and makeovers, as well as use the knowledge to help with my property projects.
Secondly, I had always enjoyed acting and trying different characters as a child, and excelling at the rural school’s fancy dress and concert events in the early 60’s, but I let my husband and others discourage me from taking drama classes and be involved in theatre. Then, via my dear daughter, who was employed as a front of house and usher person in a well known theatre, she had an allocation of free tickets to give to whoever she wanted, so I got to see a huge variety of drama and musicals over a whole year. It was here I discovered Improvisation style of theatre, and, after several more years of watching them I finally enrolled in classes in 2015. I have since performed 44 times in front of a paying audience, and this set of skills has made me at last feel fulfilled and satisfied, and I have met and made friends with dozens of others who are also enjoying this art form. In July this year I travelled to Canada ( from NZ) to participate in the Loose Moose International Summer school at Calgary, and this was truly fun and very fulfilling. I am bout to sell my home in the suburbs, and move nearer to the theatre I am a member of here in Auckland, to have an inner city lifestyle where I can walk to many of the activities I enjoy. Thank you for your blog and insights in to life in France
– really appreciate reading the stories of the other older women’s ambitions and activities.

Reply
Alaine November 22, 2019 - 8:38 pm

Dear Sharon, I am a relatively new reader of your Blog and enjoy it very much. In the last 10 years, my 60’s, I have realised 2 dreams I had when very young.
Firstly, I had wanted to be an architect, and had been drawing house plans to scale since I was 11 years old but this was considered not womanly and the men in my family laughed a lot and mocked me for my ambition. I had no support so that ambition became dormant. Then 8 years ago I enrolled in a 3 year part time interior design course, which I completed, and
i have been able to use this skill to help friends with their home alterations and makeovers, as well as use the knowledge to help with my property projects.
Secondly, I had always enjoyed acting and trying different characters as a child, and excelling at the rural school’s fancy dress and concert events in the early 60’s, but I let my husband and others discourage me from taking drama classes and be involved in theatre. Then, via my dear daughter, who was employed as a front of house and usher person in a well known theatre, she had an allocation of free tickets to give to whoever she wanted, so I got to see a huge variety of drama and musicals over a whole year. It was here I discovered Improvisation comedy style of theatre, and, after several more years of watching them I finally enrolled in classes in 2015. I have since performed 44 times in front of a paying audience, and this set of skills has made me at last feel fulfilled and satisfied, and I have met and made friends with dozens of others who are also enjoying this art form. In July this year I travelled to Canada ( from NZ) to participate in the Loose Moose Theatre International Summer school at Calgary, and this was truly fun and very fulfilling. I am about to sell my home in the suburbs, and move nearer to the theatre which I am a member of here in Auckland, to have an inner city lifestyle where I can walk to many of the activities I enjoy. Thank you for your blog and insights in to life in France
– really appreciate reading the stories of the other older women’s ambitions and activities.
Alaine

Reply
Laurie Dragunoff November 22, 2019 - 8:41 pm

Hi Sharon, I have had my Interior Design business since 1995. My dream to open my store was built in 2000 with my divorce money. I had a three year old little girl to raise while doing so. Life was so challenging and wonderful with many ups and downs with the economy crash of 2007. My store survived and thrived for sixteen years. Life and age pushed me in another direction when Lindsay went off to College of Charleston in SC. I too was in need of a change. It took me nine months to sell my store and move to Myrtle Beach and slow down a bit. At 52 I started once again in a new State and town in my beautiful home. Working part time now choosing to only work with three clients at a time. My dream is to visit France on one of your wonderful trips and meet you and all that you write about and create. You are such an inspiration and I enjoy opening each email you send. So freeing to do what you love everyday and support oneself. Hope to meet one day soon. https://www.decorativeinteriorssc.com/ Live your best life in Style. Laurie Dragunoff

Reply
Alaine November 22, 2019 - 8:41 pm

Dear Sharon,
I am a relatively new reader of your Blog and enjoy it very much. In the last 10 years, my 60’s, I have realised 2 dreams I had when very young.
Firstly, I had wanted to be an architect, and had been drawing house plans to scale since I was 11 years old but this was considered not womanly and the men in my family laughed a lot and mocked me for my ambition. I had no support so that ambition became dormant. Then 8 years ago I enrolled in a 3 year part time interior design course, which I completed, and
i have been able to use this skill to help friends with their home alterations and makeovers, as well as use the knowledge to help with my property projects.
Secondly, I had always enjoyed acting and trying different characters as a child, and excelling at the rural school’s fancy dress and concert events in the early 60’s, butler as a young adult, I let my husband and others discourage me from taking drama classes and be involved in theatre. Then, via my dear daughter, who was employed as a front of house and usher person in a well known theatre, she had an allocation of free tickets to give to whoever she wanted, so I got to see a huge variety of drama and musicals over a whole year. It was here I discovered Improvisation comedy, and, after several more years of watching them I finally enrolled in classes in 2015. I have since performed 44 times in front of a paying audience, and this set of skills has made me at last feel fulfilled and satisfied, and I have met and made friends with dozens of others who are also enjoying this art form. In July this year I travelled to Canada ( from NZ) to participate in the Loose Moose Theatre International Summer school at Calgary, and this was truly fun and very fulfilling. I am about to sell my home in the suburbs, and move nearer to the theatre which I am a member of here in Auckland, to have an inner city lifestyle where I can walk to many of the activities I enjoy.
Thank you for your blog and insights in to life in France.
– really appreciate reading the stories of the other older women’s ambitions and activities.
Alaine

Reply
Rosey Koivisto November 22, 2019 - 8:45 pm

Around the time I was retiring, I took over running a Book Club group, which I enjoy very much, and will soon set up a website for our group to record book recommendations, etc. Who knows what will become of it?

Reply
Kate Dickerson November 22, 2019 - 9:02 pm

Dear Sharon –
You are such an inspiration and I look forward to every post and every magazine from you! Your entrepreneurship has led to happiness, not just for you, but for so many others of us, as well. What could be better?
About 8 years ago, when my kids had grown up and moved away, I reinvented myself and started (again) a needlepoint design business I had done when I was young and single. What started out as a little hobby, blossomed into a full-time job, with my younger son working for me full-time! I also have a fabulous group of women who work with me at trade shows, stitching, finishing, etc. I am having so much fun doing it, but some day, I hope to move on, and do more writing about our life in France.
My husband also reinvented himself, after 25 years of running a successful graphic design/marketing business, he threw in the towel and began painting for fun, which then turned into a career as a painter and gallery owner.
I’m pretty sure a true entrepreneur can reinvent herself (or himself) more than once – I certainly hope so… I’m looking forward to the next adventure!
Thanks for your continuing fun stories and gorgeous photos. They keep me “in France” even when I am back in the US for a couple of months. I am slowly perusing the latest magazine issue, as I want it to last for a few weeks. : )
Cheers, Kate

Reply
Dawn Johnson November 22, 2019 - 9:06 pm

I have enjoyed your posts all along but this one has been especially inspiring. I read every single comment and while each one tells a different story, the common thread of women finding new purpose while pursuing their passion rings loud and true. At 61 I’ve spent my life being a rancher homemaker baker gardener among many other things. After raising three children and now enjoying seven grandchildren I’ve just begun the framework for starting my own blog. I am passionate about all things french and I try to visit ma belle France as often as I can but in the meantime I do my best to bring French style and essence into my everyday California country life where it fills me with joy and gratitude.Its a little scary getting started but I’m excited to see where this could go. I’ve been so encouraged by all the comments.

Reply
Phyllis November 22, 2019 - 9:53 pm

Love your blog! Tried to buy your magazine, but I only have a Discover credit card. You don’t accept PayPal? I am searching for my future endeavor now that I have raised my children and helped raise two grandchildren.

Reply
Cathy Garrett November 22, 2019 - 10:37 pm

I enjoy reading your posts and seeing your beautiful blog. I love creating and learning new things and taking workshops. In between traveling I have time to do that. My children are raised and gone. I have grandchildren and love seeing them. I love all your beautiful photos of France. It reminds me when I visited Paris and Provence and I loved it. Keep up the good work!

Reply
Noelle November 22, 2019 - 11:20 pm

Hello: I love your blog, everything is so classy. Very inspiring and your story is very inspiring. Thanks

Reply
Dianne November 23, 2019 - 12:43 am

After a long and rewarding career in education, I retired 10 years ago. At first I filled my days with volunteering, visiting friends, babysitting grandchildren and playing my favorite sport, tennis. At the age of 73, I asked myself if I had one more “act” in this life.
The answer was YES! I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. It dawned on me that whenever I travel I am drawn to vintage textiles. I realized that my collection of textiles would make lovely home decor pillows. I now travel local and global markets, souks and studios searching for unique vintage textiles. I’ve been selling at a local retail shop and to interior designers in the area where I live. My goal is get my ecommerce site up and running in January 2020. I’m not retired, I’m refired!

Reply
Suzana November 23, 2019 - 2:20 am

Sharon, you are an inspiration to many, including myself.
I feel your passion in every blog post and continue to be impressed with photography and subject matter.
Love Suzana from Australia

Reply
Holly November 23, 2019 - 3:16 am

Thank you for sharing your story! I love your blog and I look forward to getting my first magazine this season.

I developed a fascination with vintage clothes at a young age and started shopping thrift stores at 12. It’s now 30 years later and not much has changed. At 18, I became a young mom and a young wife. I had always dreamed of traveling to Europe but my now EX HUSBAND told me it was never going to happen and I needed to forget about it. ( Men telling me “you can’t do that” has been the story of my life.) Eventually I convinced him to let me plan a trip. His condition was that I had to find a way to pay for us and our three kids completely on my own. In all honesty he never thought I could do it.

A short while later, I opened up a website and little by little I started selling off my vintage collection. Before I knew it , I had earned the money for the trip of my dreams and was able to pay for the 5 of us to visit Paris, London, Venice and Rome. Long story short that trip changed my life. I fell in love with Paris and when I got back to the states I decided to go back to school to study French.

My small internet venture continued and helped me get through college and eventually a Masters degree in French which has lead me into a new career. (Most importantly, all of this gave me the courage to get out of a very unhealthy and abusive relationship. )

Reply
Shirley Ann November 23, 2019 - 3:18 am

Dear Sharon,

Everything you have shared has inspired me deeply, especially this story of accidental entrepreneurship.
My story is a little different.
I started out as an entrepreneur right after university. Designing clothes, then wedding gowns, then wedding, interiors and so much more. It was a fast paced, exciting and challenging adventure.
Then life happened, I met and married my husband, had to move to a new country and give everything up. I am now a full time mother to my son and I have struggled because I realize my identity as an entrepreneur is all I know.
After recent health issues, I believe life is the inviting me on to a new adventure. One where I have no control. Life is just inviting me to relax and dance into my passions, with no hard expectations.
This is my story of reinvention.
An invitation into the unknown.
Hence the reason why your story has inspired me so deeply.
Thank you.

Reply
Deborah November 23, 2019 - 10:41 am

Hello!
Thinking of entrepreneurial women, I wanted to tell you I thoroughly enjoyed your book,” My Stylish French Girlfriends” which I have just finished. I also referred to it in my blog ( http://www.makecookgrow.com), published yesterday.
French women are recognised worldwide for their style and panache, so evident in your book, but what also struck me was how so many houses, so much furniture and household linens and decorative pieces are cared for and re-used over many. many years. So many of your entrepreneurial girlfriends are busy recycling. I think they would considered this normal but I think it’s a wonderful example of buying and caring for quality items and reusing them or passing them on. So good for us all. Thankyou.

Reply
Pam S November 23, 2019 - 11:52 am

Hi Sharon!!

It’s been so great over the years watching you evolve and see all your beautiful topics and places you go as well and I can’t forget to mention your furry kids that you go on beautiful walks with. I love your walks that you do in the early mornings with your fur kids!!

You are amazing!! Enjoy the weekend!!

Your deep admirer, Pam
xoxo

Reply
Jane Schaillee November 23, 2019 - 7:45 pm

Hi Sharon what an inspiration, and I have followed you and enjoyed the absolute beauty you surround yourself with.
My story is one born of necessity – I have always been in a creative space and when my husband’s company lost their contract in Mogadishu in Somalia Africa (he works in places that often turn out to be in war zones) I had to come up with something which I could start as a safety net, I came across eco printing and just couldn’t get enough of it. I tried my first silk scarf with no hem and rather rough, and wore it to the beach with friends on my 64th birthday – on the 20th of this Month November exactly 9 months later I can’t keep up, I am now in 3 luxury Hotel boutique shops and in an exclusive shoe and handbag shop, I have an online shop (so much learning there) but I did it. I love the philosophy of printing with natural dye, extracting the dye from plants and then printing onto silk with the leaves, bark, river grasses and fynbos all from my surrounds, I will be 65 in February and am loving the learning, experimenting and just finding my passion again, it’s not easy and takes a lot of grit to keep going, so hubby now works in Guinea and I’m working here in Hermanus and loving it

Reply
Patricia Civel November 23, 2019 - 8:00 pm

Quel bonheur de pouvoir vous lire en français !
Je suis votre blog depuis plusieurs années, mais je n’arrive pas toujours à tout traduire…Je ne parle pas bien anglais.
Votre blog, vos si belles photos me font rêver.

Patricia

Reply
RayeLynn Fletcher Longhini November 23, 2019 - 8:33 pm

I actually was not an entrepreneur, but I had to reinvent myself after a divorce. I had been an elementary school teacher for 12 years before my children. When we divorced, my children were 1,3,and 5. I couldn’t imagine teaching young children and then, coming home to the demands of my own small children. I had always been entered in aspects of the law, so I got my paralegal certification. I really enjoyed it and even managed the branch office. Unfortunately, because of the schedules of my three children, I had to give it up. It was too expensive to pay for childcare when they were not in school. They also needed me there more. I ended up going back to teaching it worked out better for our time together. We I feared, teaching young children, and then coming home to my own young children, began to wear on me. Stringent n #2: I decided to get a Masters level certification to teach English as a Second or Other Language. It turned out to be exactly what I needed. The daily challenges of teaching was different enough that I didn’t feel I was working when I got home. It made our family time much more enjoyable for us all!

Reply
Sotheby's Internartional Realty November 23, 2019 - 9:29 pm

My story is not of becoming an entrepreneur , but of starting life again at 60 years of age , in a different island and a different city after the Christchurch 2011 earthquake killed 185 people, in the central city where I lived. I drove for 3 days in my fully laden car , to Auckland not knowing where i would work or live. I lost hope, rather than possessions ! Of course I lost possession but how easily they are replaced! I thought i would never travel again or own a home. For the first time in my busy working life as an Estate Agent , I began to follow bloggers. You , Sharon, Vicki Archer , Janelle McCullough and Heather Clawson gave me back my hope , my dreams and my concentration. I am a reader , but for months i could not concentrate enough to read books . I was physically dislocated. However so was my brain , discombobulated from the trauma. The bank and I now have two homes ! One on an island called Slightly Foxed that is a weekend let, and an apartment for me to sleep in and be a business women from . I love the sometimes scarey challenges of change and that a new city and creating new friendships and business relationships brings. I work with much more balance and have grown a loyal repeat and referred business here in Auckland . I attend uplifting french classes every Tuesday lunchtime and feast on french films. Change is scary at the beginning, messy in the middle and delicious at the end. As soon as your Girlfriends book was published my girlfriend Jan had it couriered to me . Lucky me !
Merci mille fois Sharon. Merci mille fois Vicki. Merci Mille fois Janelle. Merci mille fois Heather.Merci mille fois Robin Sharma who wrote the words about change and helped me create my morning written ritual of an attitude of gratitude.

Reply
ANKE MICHELE STOBRAVA November 24, 2019 - 5:54 am

Dear Sharon~
Love seeing your post and inspiration from someone following their bliss. I too am an accidental entrepreneur…while on vacation in Mexico before going back to resume university studies, I fell in love with the country, the people, the culture and when I returned to school, I knew where I belonged and couldn´t wait to return which I did a few years later. My husband and I had no money and was in Mexico on a tourist visa, so no working papers. Undaunted, I sought out opportunities and was hired on the spot by a home furnishings store~ with hardly any Spanish and definitely no working papers. Regardless, I learned the language and excelled in my new job. Fast forward a few months….and new owners, I lost my job. That very day, I started decorating some metal frames that I had bought in the store. I took the all night bus to Texas and knocked on doors trying to sell my pieces. Long story short, from painting on my kitchen table to running a studio that employs women from the countryside, I now sell in galleries all over the US and Europe. I am now going to sell my business and start over with another idea in my native Canada. It can be done, if you are focused, organised and disciplined, you can make a go of anything you want. We are the only ones holding ourselves back, hobbled by fear of failure. There is no such thing as failure~ there is learning.
So, cheers to all of us who are doing exactly what we want to be doing and especially if you can also help someone on their path.

Reply
Heather Smith November 24, 2019 - 8:41 am

Please can tell me if the November/December magazine has been dispatched as I haven’t received my copy. So looking forward to receiving it. I paid for an annual subscription.

Many thanks

Heather Smith

Reply
Robin Alley November 25, 2019 - 2:53 am

Thanks for sharing your story. I too started my own business in 2010 after my daughter entered middle school and didn’t need me as much anymore. I had a completely different career before I had her (I was the Director of a Physical Rehabilitation Center), but had always loved home decor, decorating, tablescapes, entertaining, and photography. I took a course on line to become a Home Stager in 2009 and in 2010, started my own Home Staging Company, Robin Sets The Stage, LLC, here in southeast, Michigan, USA. It was from the ground up and took a long time to get traction, get my company name out there and the services I provide. But it is definitely a passion of mine, I love what I do, and consider it a privilege to have my own company and help others prepare their home for market. I will be 58 years old in just a few short months so I am definitely an older woman entrepreneur as well and also completely reinvented myself. I love reading your blog and hearing your stories and viewing your lovely photos. You are definitely an inspiration to me. And on my bucket list is to attend one of your antique tours. Thanks again for all you provide, Robin

Reply
Jeanne November 25, 2019 - 2:06 pm

Hello Sharon, I started a blog a few years ago but alas, don’t write often enough. In 2013 I started a home “industry” in designing and making homeware – all my products are designed and trialled in my own home until I am happy with the fabric and pattern. I believe in good old fashioned quality, such as when our grandmothers were keeping house. Nothing makes me happier than a piece of equipment or homeware that is absolutely useful, but also a thing of beauty, and which has been made to last. My slogan is “hand made home” which means production is out of the question. And unless I find people who are prepared to sew to the standard that my products require, I will keep making them myself. Each one, one product at a time. I am not making a living from this, but my products do at least pay for themselves. The concept of quality and REAL country living extends to the little cottage I have renovated on the farm as a weekend escape for guests. I adore knowing that somebody has come to relax in the space that I have created, and that they will return to the city completely renewed by living with fresh and calm simplicity for a night or two. Making a beautiful world for everybody is something that keeps me going. Even though I balk at the bulk of social media, I am appreciative of the fact that without it, I would never have come across you. And you are such an inspiration! I own and love both your books. My dream is to also own one of your MFCH boxes…. merci, Jeanne

Reply
Jacqueline Durrans November 27, 2019 - 11:15 am

Dear Sharon,

I have been following your blog eagerly from South Africa for years, and bought all your books which have been my go to guide for French living and decorating my home. You have been my inspiration to take a leap of faith and move to France with my husband this past December, with the opportunity to also totally change my occupation from working in a corporate environment, to becoming an editor of a TV program, being my own boss and doing something incredible creative. At age 47 it has been a huge challenge, but it has pushed me to delve deep into my own capabilities and explore my creative side which was severely suppressed working in a corporate environment. Life in France has taught me so much about myself and what life should be about, and not what the world is making us believe it should be. Thank you for all your inspiration through the years. Now, with regards to that MFCH box….
Bisous, Jacqueline

Reply
Vicki December 10, 2019 - 2:28 pm

Should I have received the Nov/Dec magazine by now (Australian address)?
Thanks.
Vicki

Reply

Leave a Comment