Meet The Women Pursuing Their Dreams Later In Life
Meet The Women Pursuing Their Dreams Later In Life

Meet The Women Pursuing Their Dreams Later In Life

Finding the confidence to switch careers at any age is a daunting thought, but even more so as you get older. If you’ve long harboured dreams of doing something different, prepare to be inspired. We spoke to eight women who have all taken a leap of faith to pursue their passions later in life.

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Ayesha Vardag, 55, is one of the UK’s top divorce lawyers and, recently, she’s pushed herself out of her comfort zone to start writing a novel, with a new chapter released on Substack each week.

 “Like all writers, I’m inspired by my own life experience. I have a complex ethnic inheritance and don’t fit into any boxes – there are probably quite a lot of people out there like that. I’ve been a single mother and a wife more than once, and built a career as a divorce lawyer. The name for the novel, Pont Neuf, means ‘new bridge’. It is the oldest surviving stone bridge in Paris and, for some, bridges symbolise change and transition: perhaps from one side of a river to the other or, more profoundly, oneself to another. I always intended to write and started this book years ago, but found I was too busy to have the time or objectivity to devote to it. Then, one day, I just knew I couldn’t hold off any longer. I went on my own, locked my phone in the safe and just wrote and wrote, day after day, 14 hours a day. When my son told me about Substack, it gave me a platform and structure to write. 

“Now, more than ever, I want to leave a legacy behind. I’ve built a legal firm I am so very proud of, but I hope to leave behind a meaningful insight into my life and all of its teachings. I try to release a chapter every week – Sunday mornings at 11am – and that gives me discipline. This whole experience has taught me that you need to find your expression in the world. Otherwise, you’re just drifting through. For me, creativity is what makes me feel alive and, if you want to make something similar happen, I’d say do it – life is painfully short. Write the book, take the dance class, start doing whatever hobby it is you’ve been secretly wanting to do. You’ll soon see it’s not so scary.”


Sara Curran, 56, is a filmmaker turned hotelier. Having worked in directorial roles on films like The Favourite, as well as The Night Manager with Tom Hiddleston, she and her filmmaker husband decided last year to buy a hotel on Isle of Wight, Foresters Hall, which has since been named Best Beach Hotel in the UK by Condé Nast Traveller.

“Foresters Hall is a beautiful property in one of the best parts of the Isle (Cowes Old Town) and just steps away from my house. I had never been in the hospitality business, as my career was in film, though my travel schedule prior to the pandemic was such that I was spending close to 200 nights a year in hotels. It never occurred to me to become a hotelier, but when I heard my favourite spot was for sale, I couldn’t resist. Taking a leap was not out of character for me and because there was a lot of interest in the hotel, I didn’t have the chance to ponder the idea much. That said, we didn’t get the keys until 1st April 2022 and the hotel had been closed since October 2021, so I had to scramble to assemble a new team and capture as much of the season as possible. Overall, I now have a much greater understanding of the skills and patience of those working in hospitality. It’s challenging work and should be appreciated for the career opportunities it represents. Anyone else looking to make a similar life change should try to embrace the journey. We’re in control of our own destinies, so don’t wait for life to happen to you.”


Caroline Idiens, 50, is a PT who was forced to move her business online three years ago during the pandemic. Starting from nothing, her online workouts have now helped her amass 247,000 followers on Instagram – many of whom also attend her exclusive wellness retreats.

“I'd been a PT for 20 years when lockdown struck in March 2020. I knew my clients were still doing cardio from the limited time we could spend outside, but strength training was lacking. So, I took the workouts online. Coming together three times a week in that initial stage created a very special community of women and, for some, it became a lifeline. Having created the fitness platform, I took the business onto social media, focusing 100% on Instagram, which I’ve grown organically to almost 250,000 followers. With a husband, two teenagers and three dogs all being at home at the start, training in the living room had its challenges. However, I’ve come to realise that this was one of the biggest draws of the platform – it was relatable and people felt safe with me. 

“To see the community go from 30 members to 700 in less than three years has been mind-blowing. The daily messages from clients attending the live classes or catching up on demand is the most rewarding part of the whole experience. Some women had never exercised before and now cannot see a future without it. They are fitter and stronger in their midlife than ever before. It’s been seven days a week from day one and I'm lucky to have a close family and friends whose encouragement has made all the difference. If you are passionate about something, nothing can stop you achieving success, but consistency and determination are key. If you’re thinking of taking the next step, go for it and remember to pause, breathe and look back at how far you've come.” 


After working in the PR world for close to 40 years, Heloise D’Souza, 61, decided to use the time afforded to her by the pandemic to make a change and start a holiday lettings business in Cornwall.

“I’ve always dreamed of having a house with a holiday let. I’m a bit of a home maker and always like things to look nice. So, one day, I thought why not use that skill to create a business? My obsession has always been planning holidays and, when my PR work dried up during the pandemic, I finally had time to think about selling the property we owned in Somerset to find somewhere with an annexe that we could use as a holiday let. That said, finding the right property was a challenge. We were in that period when everyone wanted to do the same as us, so properties were hard to come by. Then, we received details of a place in Cornwall with an annexe, dropped everything to drive down there to see it and offered the asking price on the same day. Afterwards, we encountered several issues – entirely our fault as we hadn’t done our due diligence. The annexe was in fact originally an extension connected to the main house and, over the years, the previous owners had separated it off and installed a kitchen to make it entirely self-contained for an elderly parent – without permissions. We took the plunge and paid a planning consultant £3,000 to get the annexe classified as a separate dwelling, which means we can let it to our heart’s content, entirely legally. It’s been wildly successful and I’ve loved every minute of running the business, but it’s shown me how determined and single minded you need to be to run your own company. Luckily, knowing and understanding the market from so many years of scrolling through dream properties has helped enormously. If anyone else is thinking about getting into holiday lets as a business, I’d tell them to buy something that already has permission for use as a holiday let. It’s both difficult and costly to get planning permission, and you’ll want to spend your money on making it special to guarantee a return on investment.”


Caroline Alexander Kennedy set up LoveRose when she was 51. Previously an art gallery director, it was being diagnosed with breast cancer for a second time and undergoing a double mastectomy that made her aware of the lack of options available for women post-surgery. In 2020, she set out to design her own range for women who have undergone breast cancer surgeries, naming the business after her sister Rose, who passed away from the disease.

“I have always been a self-confessed lingerie addict. After I was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time and underwent a double mastectomy with reconstruction, I was so disappointed with the bland and matronly lingerie available for women post-surgery. I knew I had to do something about it, so I created LoveRose – wire-free, luxury, post-surgery lingerie. I have five sisters and four of us have had breast cancer, and two have sadly passed away. Mine and my sisters’ experiences of cancer has shaped everything we do, and I named the business after my sister Rose, who died in 2004. 

“After I was diagnosed for a second time, I left my job as an art gallery director. My children had grown up and it was the right time to bite the bullet and set up the business. I needed to secure funding for the business and appeared on BBC Dragon’s Den but I wasn’t able to secure an offer. However, another investor reached out to offer me funding after seeing me on the show. With breast cancer causing such heartbreak in my family, they couldn’t have been more supportive of my efforts to help women through their most challenging times. Founding LoveRose has taught me that it’s never too late to start a new business. After having my children, LoveRose really is the best thing I’ve ever done. Mid and later life is a great time to start something new. If you’re working on your true passion every day, you’ll never regret it.”


It took Dr Amanda Foo-Ryland, 56, losing her husband to cancer, going through cancer herself, marrying another woman and becoming a mother to twins at 52 to realise she had the power to help others. Now an international TedX keynote speaker and bestselling author, she’s also the founder of Your Life Live It – a platform that helps thousands of people around the world achieve lasting personal change. 

“I think I’ve known from a young age I would do something that would help others, but my own fair share of obstacles have given me the mindset I really needed to do that. When a curveball hits, we tend to give away our personal power and feel sorry for ourselves. We fall into the victim mentality and expect something external to change our circumstances. This is an illusion. Owning your power is important because, if you don’t, it’s likely that you’ll spend a lifetime just dreaming and hoping the external factors will create the life you want. Many people unfortunately do this and, when they grow old, they say that they wish that they could have lived a different life. I am now 56 and my life changed dramatically in my late 40s. I was diagnosed with kidney cancer, lost my husband to the same disease a year and a day after my kidney was taken out and, at 49, I married a woman. At 52, I became the mother of twin boys after Sarah, my wife, gave birth. Around this time, I also started going through the menopause. 

“Back when I started Your Life Live It, it was just me but now we have a community of 32 coaches working worldwide with us. It’s exciting and I love it. I have just launched my speaking career here after living in New Zealand for the last three years and I’m loving how that is going, too. The whole experience has shown me you never know what is around the corner, only that we can trust in the universe, and know each curveball has been sent to teach us something. The most important thing in making any change is self-belief. The only difference between people who succeed and those who fail is belief and persistence. Commit, set your intention, believe in yourself, apply your new mindset and keep going. You will amaze yourself.”

Amanda’s best-selling book, Knowing You, takes you on a simple journey of self-discovery. Packed with case studies and practical examples, it shows that change can be achieved easily from within.


Rachel Heley, 50, worked in teaching, sales and sports massage before the 2020 lockdown gave her the time and space to set up Wild Moose – an online business selling wild swimming products.

“The idea to set up Wild Moose came from my love of the outdoors and my hatred of being cold. I wanted to create a business that focused on practical products to bring comfort to wild swimmers and outdoor enthusiasts. I also wanted to have autonomy in my working life and had always dreamt of working in a field I was passionate about. I had lacked direction and fell into a series of careers that were fine, but none of those jobs made me want to leap out of bed. Now, I’m so determined to make Wild Moose a success. 

“During the first lockdown in March 2020, I had time to research products, source suppliers, build a website and teach myself some of the many things I was going to need to know as a new business owner. I didn’t have the budget to get professionals to help me, so I had to do everything myself – and there was a lot to learn. Thankfully, the local council laid on some great, free online courses for new businesses that were really informative. Plus, there is so much free content out there on forums like Eventbrite and YouTube. 

“My husband was also incredibly supportive. He set up his own business 12 years ago and so he understands the demands of working for yourself. My friends have also loved being dragged off for swims, trying out all my products and giving me feedback. Taking this leap has taught me that I am capable of so much more than I ever imagined. If you’re thinking of doing something similar, have a good think about what skills your past jobs have given you. Use them to follow your passion and believe in yourself – self-doubt will be your biggest barrier to making a change.”


Following a 20-year career in residential property management, Janette Miller changed careers to train as a personal stylist. Now, on the eve of her 50th birthday, she’s been working as a style coach for four years and recently began presenting fashion shows on QVC and on programmes for Channel 4.

"Having surrounded myself with a community of female entrepreneurs online, I soon realised I was falling out of love with the property industry. Then, I read a book called The E-Myth Revisted and that changed my life. After a few months of soul searching, I decided to train as a personal stylist and pursue a new dream.

"As a woman who suffered with low self esteem growing up, I quickly found a way to overcome this through the clothes I wore. I wholeheartedly believe in dressing to help you feel good – ask my clients, I’m often heard saying, 'It’s not about the clothes you wear, but how you feel when you’re wearing them.' I knew I wanted to help other women feel the same as I did. Now, my client no longer have to decline invitations because they don't have anything they feel good in.

"When I was a teenager, I worked in my father’s ladieswear shop and would often accompany him to Savile Row in London to deliver his bespoke suits to clients – as well as going to fashion exhibitions and visiting wholesalers to purchase stock. However, I was an introverted child and didn’t feel confident enough to follow in my father's footsteps. So, when it came to marketing my personal styling business, I had huge imposter syndrome. Even as a stylist, I questioned what I should be wearing and constantly compared myself to everyone else online. I absolutely hated Instagram, when I started out. In the end, I realised I just had to be myself on the internet.

"Asking myself the question "What do you want to be known for?" from The E-Myth Revisited changed everything for me. I realised I didn't want to be known for being a good property manager. I wanted to change lives somehow. That’s why my advice to women who find themselves in a similar position would be: don't be afraid to try something new. Ask yourself, what do you love doing so much that you would do it for free? That's what you should charge for – because you're clearly passionate about it."


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