Each month we feature inspirational women who've made it to the other side of career change. Learn how they did it and take away usable tips from their career journeys! This month, we're proud to feature career reinventor and founder of Better Not Younger, Sonsoles Gonzalez!
The idea of Better Not Younger started when Sonsoles was struggling to find products that worked on her own changing hair. After 25 years working on haircare brands for Procter & Gamble and L’Oréal, she was amazed that there was still so little out there for women like her. She took a leap and launched Better Not Younger.
Read on to learn How She Did It!
What is your personal mantra, mission or manifesto? Success has no age limit
What inspired you to launch your current career/launch your business? I worked in big beauty companies my entire career, from heading up the global Pantene business to running L’Oreal’s CPG division in Spain, so I was well aware of the changes a woman’s body goes through as she ages.
Yet most of the industry’s innovation and marketing dollars were geared towards products for women 18-44. I used to joke in meetings “What happens after 45? You disappear?”.
One day it wasn’t funny…it was me. I was 52 and retired. I remember having wine on my couch with two girlfriends (also in their 50s) talking about how our ponytails were shrinking and how it was impossible to find products that were designed for aging hair and laughing at the fact that whenever we saw 50-year-olds in the media, all ‘over 50’ women seemed to be grandmothers with short, grey hair, going on cruises, taking medications or gardening.
It was in that moment that I realized what a tremendous whitespace existed for high quality products that could truly help women over 40 look and feel better, showing them as they truly were, without trying to make them younger.
What is unique about returning/pivoting in midlife? Challenges & opportunities?
I had seen so much research that showed that older entrepreneurs had a better chance of success than their younger counterparts, and now as a "fiftypreneur" I finally ‘get’ why.
I believe I’ve gotten better with age in so many areas: more perspective, greater confidence in my power, more self-awareness in regards to what I’m good at (and what I am not), and more resilience when faced with the invariable setback. My network is better. So is my experience in pulling together a talented team and the expertise I’ve gained across all areas of running a business from supply chain to logistics, finance to formulation.
But I’m also confident in what I don’t know, so I can hire people who complement my experience set. Aging has definitely unlocked my potential; this would not have been possible in my 20s.
What does a typical day look like for you? For almost 30 years of working in corporate, I’d wake up with an alarm, shower, put on my makeup, get dressed, and run out of the house (always in high heels) like it was on fire—literally! No breakfast, sometimes not even coffee.
Today, I wake up without an alarm, slip into yoga pants, calmly drink my coffee, plan my day, and head to Pilates. This helps me begin my workday super energized and focused because there’s no such thing as a typical day in my world. I could be physically packing boxes in my warehouse or live streaming into an HSN TV appearance from my bathroom lol.
What’s the one thing that has advanced your career in the last year? Constantly leveraging my network. Becoming an entrepreneur at 52 required me to open new doors, learn new skills and hire the best people to do the job. My 28+ years in the corporate world had given me access to the most amazing network.
The advice I wish I had given to my 20 year old self is…
Be kinder to yourself! We are so demanding on ourselves when it comes to career, kids, house, husband…we are often our own worst critics. Don’t focus so much on the mistakes, learn from them and move on. Spend more time celebrating and enjoying the ‘wins’ in life and know that things will 100% get better with age.
When did you feel you got “you” back? Nine months after launching Better Not Younger the business had grown to a point where it was keeping my days filled with challenges (which I adore) but still leaving me with enough flexibility to do other things, like working out, traveling, reading. Balancing work with life was always a challenge, and you sort give up on it over the years. But now I feel like I have it!
What’s up next? Better Not Younger is a platform and a philosophy that can extend beyond hair care into many other categories where women’s needs at this age still have yet to be addressed. Better Not Younger has always been about more than the hair care products.
The entire team is passionate around changing the narrative around women & aging in society to get to a more inclusive definition of beauty. This company was founded on the principle that Beauty Should Not Be Defined By Age, a mission that will guide us through the next 10 years and beyond.