Sometimes age discrimination is piled on our heads by others and sometimes we heap it upon ourselves.
When it comes to employment most of us are aware of age discrimination in this country. It can happen on both ends of the spectrum. If you are too old (usually 55 or older) or too young (generally under 25) it is harder to get people to take a chance on you. If you are too old they are afraid you won’t be around long enough to ‘get their money’s worth’ out of you due to retirement, won’t have the stamina, or will ask for too much money. If you are too young they are afraid you won’t be around long enough and will also require too much training, won’t have enough of a work ethic, or you can’t be taken seriously. If you have ever been discriminated against like this, it’s tough.
This sometimes spills out into other areas of our lives and age is sometimes an excuse we use not to do something, whether it’s trying something new or starting a new adventure. We might tell ourselves that we are too old or too young. This makes it convenient not to act, however, it can be combatted.
One of the ways around this scenario is making it happen for yourself- being an entrepreneur. In this two part series I am going to show you how two people on each end of the age spectrum, in the same industry, have persevered through the age issue and didn’t let it stop them from starting new adventures and conquering new goals.
I’d like you to meet Peggy Tucker.
She is a certified master sugar artist who owns School of Cakeology and built her reputation on producing beautiful cakes and sugar work and then began to teach her skills internationally for the last 27 years. In 2014, she was named one of the top 10 sugar artists in the country by Dessert Professional magazine. In addition, she has been a consultant and representative for a few different companies and worked very closely with Jenny Skinner developing pre-cooked isomalt which lead to Jenny starting a business called Cakeplay LLC. This company specializes in manufacturing and distributing pre-cooked isomalt nibs, a product used in the pastry and cake decorating industries. Just last year Peggy made the decision to buy CakePlay, in partnership with her sister, at the age of 57.
I wanted her to share how and why she did not let age get in her way. Below is my interview with her. [In the interest of full disclosure, I have provided services to CakePlay as an independent contractor.]
Anna: Did you have any concerns or reservations taking on a new business at an age where most people are preparing to wind down for retirement?
Peggy: Yes! I questioned my sanity! But it felt natural since I was connected to the company from the beginning but I also knew that I couldn’t do it by myself which is why I ask my sister, Sally, to be my partner.
Anna: You’ve been self-employed for a long time. What is the difference between your other ventures and being the owner of CakePlay?
Peggy: Biggest difference is this time around I have a partner so there is someone else I have to be accountable to besides myself and learning to juggle both companies. It is a lot more responsibility and more time constraints. I also had to get used to a different line of customers as a wholesaling company is a whole new arena for me.
Anna: What do you feel is your biggest challenge operating a distribution company?
Peggy: Wrapping my brain around all the different components that make up CakePlay Inc. Working closely with our manufacturer and our shipping company so we can meet our customer’s needs. I’ve also had to learn a new marketing strategy.
Anna: What is the biggest advantage of being 57 and taking on a new business?
Peggy: Having a lot of experience under my belt in many areas of business. But here’s the biggest one, no self-doubt, I have complete confidence in my own abilities to do anything. With age I became more and more comfortable with who I am which has allows me to accomplish more things.
Anna: What are the disadvantages of starting new at your age?
Peggy: I haven’t found any yet.
Anna: Did you have anyone who questioned the move or tried to talk you out of it?
Peggy: [Laughing] My husband said it was a perfect match and a no brainer to buy CakePlay . A close friend says I was the craziest person he has ever met. Lonnie’s [her husband] only concern was being able to handle both companies on my own. Bringing Sally in as my partner handled that concern.
Anna: What adjustments did you have to make in your personal life?
Peggy: Juggling seven balls instead of five at one time and giving up on sleeping, [laughing]. My family is my first priority- always- and now sometimes the urgency of the business needs can make that tough.
Anna: What was your biggest learning curve?
Peggy: I have had a few curves- learning about logistics, shipping and overseas shipping , tariff codes HACCP, social media. I think I have handled them well but I always expect the unexpected!
Anna: What are the best investments you’ve made in yourself?
Peggy: Learning and continuing to learn- in the beginning it was hands on classes to perfect my skills. Also a professionally designed logo, chef coats and business cards.
Anna: Are you planning for retirement?
Peggy: Not really. Not in the traditional sense. I can’t ever imagine not working. Perhaps someday I’ll slow down, work less, travel more, spend more time with family and friends and get a few more games of golf in. So maybe part time retired.Be 100% invested, it's not a game. Click To Tweet
Anna: What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about opening a business or starting a new adventure later in life?
Peggy: 1. You should know your limits. Know what your capabilities are and work with it. 2. Have a support group. This could be friends or family or both. Just make sure that they respect your time. 3. Don’t second guess yourself. 4. When things are dragging you down, don’t let them keep you from reaching your goals. 5. Be 100% invested in what you are doing.
If you would like to learn more about Peggy’s companies, School of Cakeology LLC, CakePlay Inc, or learn more about how to use isomalt, please visit her websites. www.cakeplay.com and www.schoolofcakology.com
Have you ever taken a risk when people thought you were too old?