Age is indeed a number – milestones such as 18 and 65 carry a lot of weight in people’s lives, for example, with an expectation of career challenges, maturity and financial security – what we have or haven’t achieved by a certain age.
At 50, a time when most people have long since settled on a life and career path, and are even thinking about early retirement, local entrepreneur Dianna Bowes went another way. Some 10 years ago, when dealing with health issues, marriage loss and job change, the determined Edmontonian took a long, hard look at her life and started on a path that has resulted in a thriving business, personal happiness and even an award or two – icing on the cake, she said.
Bowes adult life started with some unexpected turns. At age 21, she lost her firefighter husband in an explosion after just one year of marriage. Over the next 20 years, another marriage, two children and more than a decade of work at the St. Albert Gazette in the composition department taught Bowes a lot, she said, including skills in layout, design and dealing with deadlines. And on top of it all, while moving house and looking for a new job, Bowes was dealing with a back tumour that meant surgery and a year-long stint in a back brace.
“I had been shy and quiet – not a confident woman. But life just showed me that it was time to look at what I was avoiding, and why I felt so disconnected,” she said. “I sought out personal development wherever I could – courses and beyond. I just started blogging about how I was feeling, and that led to Fabulous @ 50. All roads led me here, to where I am today.”
Armed with a motivational mantra “empower, educate, inspire,” the now 57-year-old Bowes has turned Fabulous @ 50 into a business and members group that offers regular meet-ups with educational speakers, workshops and a yearly trade show (about 2,000 took in the Martini-themed event this past November).
“I want women to have fun, and connect – it’s something we used to do naturally in the old days. I’m trying to recreate that in a manageable way,” she said.
Handling all the editorial and advertising of a twice-yearly magazine, taking care of a regular blog and newsletter and acquiring a growing list of sponsors – AMA Travel, SHAW, True Balance, Dr. Barry Lycka and more – Bowes has broadened her reach to boomer-aged women in Red Deer and Grande Prairie with small trade shows there. Also impressive, she has licensed her company name to two new operations in Victoria, B.C. and Calgary.
“Baby boomer women are rising up and challenging the idea of what people thought a woman in her 40s, 50s and 60s should do. We are becoming entrepreneurs and living our dreams – we care about travel, menopause, career change – and we see new possibilities and opportunities,” Bowes said.
Most recently – more of that icing on the cake – Bowes was honoured with two international Stevie awards for Women in Business – a gold for best trade show and bronze in the Women Helping Women category at the 2014 ceremonies in New York City.
“It’s all a huge deal – the franchises elsewhere in Canada and the awards. I just got the trophy in the mail. It feels like winning the Oscar,” Bowes said. “We were up against 1,200 entries from 22 countries, and yet somehow our small, Edmonton-based company received not one, but two 2014 awards. It is times like this that keep me moving forward and knowing we are on the right track.”
DID YOU KNOW?
• Bowes has been recognized for her business savvy and volunteer work before, winning the 2014 Leader of Tomorrow Award from Business in Edmonton, a 2011 YWCA Women of Distinction Award, and the 2011 Top Fundraiser Award from Suit Yourself.
• Fabulous @ 50 now has 470 members, close to 4,000 online followers, a bi-monthly newsletter and twice yearly magazine. To check out a free, introductory meetup, visit fabulousat50.com