Jessica Nelson: Founder of Turf writes about ”The Second Act”

The Second Act: Women Entrepreneurs in their 40s & 50s

In my late forties, I decided to get back into the workforce with a desire to create a balanced work/life situation that would bring me much-needed engagement and fulfillment. Early on in my professional life, I had worked hard for years in advertising and marketing, and even started two small businesses. I proudly served on Born Free‘s board, committed to preserving wildlife habitats. Soon after having children, I was blessed to be a stay-at-home mom. Once my children became more independent, I began to long for the satisfaction of earning and achieving. Moving from the US to Sweden wasn’t super helpful in the pursuit to reboot my professional life, as this added yet another element of unfamiliarity. Nonetheless, I felt empowered to embark on my new endeavor as a way to honor myself and use my skills in a new way.


Embracing the adage ‘do what you love, and you will never work a day in your life,’ I combined my passion for animal welfare with my love for great shoes to create a vegan shoe label called Turf. Turf was to become the destination for women’s timeless flats – with a playful Scandinavian sensibility – crafted without harm to animals. Despite the prevailing belief that animal leather is the tried-and-true option for premium shoes, I was determined to challenge perceptions, and demonstrate how far vegan materials have come. After several months of relentless research, I was able to source premium vegan and sustainable fabrics to replace and outperform animal leather, and found a family-owned shoe factory that aligned with my vision.


My ‘advanced’ age became my female superpower in navigating the steep learning curve of the footwear industry, and building a network was far more enjoyable than I had imagined. Armed with an arsenal full of wisdom, lessons learned, a resilient mind and a warrior heart, I was prepared to embrace everything that I had become over the years to tap into my creativity and intuition with little constraint – a process that wasn’t so easy in my 20s and 30s. Hard work, patience and being able to handle many different complex tasks at once had also become mastered skills at 48 years old. However, the realities of embarking on a new career come with much hesitation for many women who feel they’ve either been out of the game for too long or overwhelmed at the thought of starting over. What they often don’t realize is that it’s their older age that can be their greatest asset.


In 2021, Forbes launched the ‘50 over 50’ list to represent the growing number of remarkable women holding positions of power. Forbes often affirms female entrepreneurs in their 50s, and highlights how these women are twice as likely to find success later in life compared to women in their 20s because of greater experience, and better leadership and relationship-building skills. By 2028, women will own an estimated 75% of discretionary spending, and this alone gives women entrepreneurs a stronger advantage in understanding and relating to female consumers.


Reflecting on my journey, time has revealed itself as my most profound teacher. As I look at the distance traveled from where I once stood, I feel compelled to impart ten insights that have helped me embark on a fresh chapter in my professional life.


  1. Measure your success – not by monetary gain – but by your passion and unwavering dedication invested.
  2. Rejection no longer poses an insurmountable barrier; instead, look elsewhere for that green light.
  3. Embrace your individuality unabashedly, quirks and all, and cultivate a circle of companions who resonate with what you bring to the table.
  4. Listen with intent. Another perspective may enlighten, and your own insights stand poised for transformation.
  5. Should a piece of the puzzle appear resistant to integration, then don’t force it. Give it time, or back off altogether.
  6. Dive into the dynamic world of digital to connect, and amplify your unique voice.
  7. Savor you daily accomplishments, however modest; and swiftly release the grip of adversity.
  8. Appreciate the more traditional ways to work, such as engaging in phone conversations or writing down your to-do lists. These strategies can truly transform the game.
  9. Build your network with those who inspire and uplift, and never be afraid to ask for help. Don’t forget to reciprocate in kind.
  10. You have a choice: Stay on the sidelines, stifled by fear, or take the leap. Your only regret will be the possibilities missed by inaction.

Jessica Nelson

Turf, Founder


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