IT’S NEVER TOO LATE…. to become a Youtube star!
Five years ago, Tricia Cusden had never used Facebook. Now aged 70, she has become an online sensation. Her make-up videos have had more than four million views – and they’ve made her a fortune, too. This is how she did it...
On Saturday mornings, you’ll find me doing my make-up in front of the computer. I sit close to the webcam and use the screen for a mirror, the lens trained on my face as I apply different products and explain the process. When I’m finished, I upload the video to Facebook and Youtube. There are no fancy edits or adjustments – it’s just me in my house, a white wall behind me, explaining how make-up works.
Amazingly, these home-made demos have become some of my most popular videos to date. A 14-minute-long piece about applying eye make-up has had over 92,000 views. At 70, I’m living proof that age shouldn’t be a barrier to achievement. We all have the power to be competent and capable, and we can all look good, too.
It all began five years ago, shortly after I retired from my job as a management consultant. My fourth grandchild, India, was diagnosed at birth with a rare chromosomal abnormality, and spent months in intensive care. We had no idea if she would survive. That year, I gave all my time to supporting my daughter, Susy, and her family.
Thankfully, India pulled through, but as normality resumed, I found myself thinking about how life can change in an instant. I’d
‘It’s a myt h that older women aren’t tech-savvy’
always been a go-getter, and I relished a challenge. I didn’t want to waste my retirement sitting on the sofa; I wanted to do something, to get out of my house and my comfort zone. It was then that I had an idea.
I’m a lifelong make-up lover. But, as I grew older, I didn’t like the way that the beauty industry only seemed to be interested in selling anti-ageing products to women of my generation. I was perfectly happy being in my 60s, and resented the assumption that I should do everything in my power to turn back the clock. I wanted to embrace my age – to work with the skin I have rather than try to conceal it. Speaking to my friends, I realised I wasn’t alone. Spurred on by my daughters, Susy and Anna, I decided to create a make-up range for older women.
I knew that there was a new market for older women seeking beauty advice online – 76% of 55- to 75-year-olds use the internet each day. I began by creating a website, buying and registering my chosen domain name, Look Fabulous Forever. Assessing my finances, I set aside £40,000 of my savings for the venture.
With a cosmetic manufacturer in Ipswich, we came up with a range of 12 products that would work well on older skin. When I explained my idea to the company, they showed great faith and agreed to produce 200 of each item rather than their usual large batches, so that I could afford to buy products gradually. I also enrolled on a week-long make-up course at The Beauty Academy in London, where I got a good grounding in techniques.
I knew I wanted Look Fabulous Forever to be about more than make-up. I wanted it to be a platform to challenge assumptions about older women, changing perceptions and giving them a voice, proving that age is no barrier. Working in management, I’d used video all the time for training, so I knew it was a brilliant medium for showing people how to perfect a skill.
I hired a studio and crew and invited two friends to be filmed. They were made up by a professional using my products, while I did a commentary. I wanted to use the videos as tutorials on the website and encourage women to try the techniques and products.
When the videographer suggested putting them on Youtube, I was
dismissive – I didn’t really know what it was. I wasn’t a celebrity, so I assumed that no one would want to watch them. But I soon realised how wrong I was. Within four months, my two videos were being viewed by thousands of women every day and shared across the world.
The power of social media was phenomenal. To begin with, I hosted makeover parties at customers’ houses, but it was more cost-effective to work from home and only sell through the website. I had no overheads, and I didn’t pay myself a salary for the first two years. Every penny I made went directly back into building the business.
Meanwhile, the Youtube success caused sales to climb rapidly. In 2014, turnover reached £100,000, and in 2015, it skyrocketed to over £500,000. The following year, we were able to move into an office building, hire more team members and to take in £150,000 of investment money. My daughter Anna is now managing director, while Susy took on the accounts and is now operations director. Working with my children has a wonderful family feel.
I continued to hire professionals to make videos, but as time went on, I decided to try something different. Alongside the studio recordings, I taught myself how to make and upload videos to Youtube. My first
make-up tutorial took half an hour to make. It was clunky and basic, but within 24 hours, it had received 125,000 views. People loved the fact that they were so close up – they could see exactly what I did with the products.
I’ve learnt that the key to success is great content. With thousands of uploads every day, Youtube is a challenging place to get attention, but by providing useful information in an accessible way and linking to the Youtube page through Facebook, our videos have had more than four million views to date.
Look Fabulous Forever is financially successful, with a turnover last year in excess of £2 million. This year, we are aiming to double that figure. We have launched in the US, and won several small business and start-up awards. I continue to blog, and have just published a book that aims to provide a guide for every aspect of ageing successfully, including make-up, style and how to stay confident. In the future, we are also planning to relaunch the makeover parties, and hire ambassadors to run them so that women over 60 can earn money by selling our make-up.
I firmly believe that growing older doesn’t have to be about quiet withdrawal. It’s a myth that older women aren’t tech-savvy, and it’s never too late to set yourself a new challenge. Retirement is just the beginning! ◆ Living The Life More Fabulous by Tricia Cusden (Orion Spring) is out now
Tricia: ‘Age shouldn’t be a barrier to achievement’