At an age when her many of peers are retiring, Linda Rodin’s career is only getting better. The 66-year-old is the founder of Rodin Olio Lusso, a celeb-beloved luxury skin care line that was acquired by Estée Lauder this past October.
The success is something of a surprise to longtime stylist Rodin, who launched the business at age 59 — thus joining a growing rank of baby boomers who are reinventing their careers later in life.
“I had no intention of starting a business,” says the Chelsea resident, who worked with the likes of Madonna and Halle Berry during her 30 years as a freelance fashion stylist. “I started making a facial oil for myself, because I wanted something to make my skin supple and moist, and I couldn’t find a product that I liked.”
Linda Rodin, a former freelance fashion stylist, founded the luxe skin care line Rodin Olio Lusso at age 59.Photo: Handout
Her homemade blend of 11 essential oils — which would become Olio Lusso, her flagship product — soon gained a cult following among the models and makeup artists with whom Rodin worked on fashion shoots.
In 2007, at the urging of her nephew, she standardized the formula, found a New Jersey production facility, and set out to sell the instantly hydrating, neroli-scented product in earnest.
“In the beginning, I went door-to-door at boutiques, and not everyone was interested. I got tons of rejections,” Rodin remembers.
But her age and experience turned out to be the secret to her success.
“Because of years of being a stylist, I already had the respect of people in the fashion-and-beauty world,” explains Rodin, who now offers 10 signature elixirs and will continue working on product development at Estée Lauder. “It certainly opened a million doors.
“I don’t think I ever could have invented this thing when I was young,” she adds. “One of the silver linings about being older is that I knew what I needed and I knew what I wanted. I just trusted my instincts.”
That’s one of the beauties of an after-50 career change, says Nancy Collamer, a Greenwich, Conn.-based career consultant and the author of “Second-Act Careers.”
“By the time you’re 50, you have a tremendous amount of data about what you do well,” she says. “You have years of experience to pull from, and you’ve amassed 50 years of contacts.”
And whether you’re looking to make a major career change or to simply pursue a path that’s grown out of your long-held professional strengths and interests — Collamer says she sees a lot of the latter — some soul-searching is necessary.
“Start with a period of exploration and personal assessment, and look at your skills, experience and interests,” she says. “My mantra for people over 60 is that it’s not about finding this big, full-time job — it’s about filling a need.”
For others, a later-in-life reinvention means starting at the bottom. That’s what 75-year-old model, author and spokeswoman Valerie Ramsey did. At age 53, the full-time mom moved from Greenwich to Pebble Beach, Calif., with her husband and decided she wanted to get back into the workforce.
Her first job? A gig in the resort’s golf shop — alongside a gaggle of college kids.
“Taking the first step is the hardest,” says Ramsey. “But you can’t be afraid to start at the bottom. You have to take that first step with a positive attitude and expect things to go well.”
Ramsey eventually landed an admin gig in the resort’s publicity office, where she worked her way up to manager. Then, in 2003, a producer she’d been working with encouraged her to consider modeling. She sent him some photos of herself, he passed them on to Ford Models’ San Francisco office — and Ramsey signed on as a first-time model at age 63.
“The idea scared me to death, but I thought, ‘How cool would that be?’ ” says Ramsey.
She parlayed her modeling success into two books on graceful aging, which led to speaking engagements, TV spots and her current gig as spokesperson for Live Beautiful at Every Age, a forthcoming online platform for 55-plus women.
Valerie Ramsey’s book, “Creating What’s Next Gracefully.”Photo: Handout
Through each new career twist, Ramsey says she relied on time-honed wisdom she wouldn’t have had in her younger years.
“By 50 or 60, you’ve learned resilience,” she says. “At that point, everybody has faced challenges and bounced back.”
But for longtime celebrity hairstylist Franck Verhaeghe, it took introspection — and a hefty dose of courage — to jump into a brand-new real estate career at age 57.
After decades of tending to the tresses of A-listers like Hillary Clinton and Steven Spielberg, Verhaeghe put down his scissors two years ago to contemplate his next move.
“I was burnt out,” he explains. “But the idea of real estate kept growing. I had bought and sold a lot of my own real estate in the past, and I’ve always had a good eye for what’s going to be next.”
So in January, he pulled the trigger and enrolled in a real estate license course in order to pursue his new passion full time.
“It was beyond humbling to all of a sudden be back in a classroom,” says Verhaeghe, who lives on the Upper East Side. “I was someone who was pretty successful, but I hadn’t learned something new in 30 years. Here I was in a classroom with mostly 20- and 30-year-olds.”
But the learning curve is already paying off: In March, Verhaeghe signed on as a residential broker with Stribling & Associates, where he says his understanding of high net-worth clientele will be a boon to the firm’s luxury real estate biz.
“If I can take someone’s difficulties over a $400 haircut, I can take it over a multimillion dollar condo,” he says with a laugh.
And though he’s just in the beginning stages of his new career, Verhaeghe says he already feels rejuvenated by a new sense of purpose.
“I feel on top of the world. I walk around with such a big smile on my face,” he says. “I feel like I’m 57 going on 20.”