You both recently retired from your legal careers and launched Lustre. What needs are you seeking to address with your website?
Retired career women are as vibrant, experienced, and wise the day after they retire as they were the day before, but suddenly they become invisible, stuck behind images of old women who are dowdy, frail, and withdrawn from the world. Those dysfunctional images are not good for our mental or physical health. We need to become visible again, and that is the need that Lustre is addressing.
Old notions of retirement–a short end of life period devoted to play–are outdated. Most of us will live for several decades after our working careers are over. We want to stay engaged and we have much to offer. Society needs healthy Boomers who contribute, not dependent Boomers who don’t. Lustre portrays retired women as they are–engaged and engaging. Our hope is that seeing modern images of retirement will stimulate more of us to think creatively about ways to put our wisdom, experience, and skills to good use, and will show others what our cohort has to offer. The younger run faster, but the old know the shortcuts.
What does Lustre offer readers?
Lustre offers readers images of what retirement can be and a perspective on this time of our lives which can be invaluable when it comes to styling our own retirements. In our experience, many of our colleagues and friends gave/give little thought to retirement, and are not really prepared for decades of life beyond the structures within which they worked. They have few role models, and often no one to talk to. It can be a lonely time.
We want to bring retired career women together–to think about what modern retirement can look like, to show everyone the possibilities, and to promote the idea that a purposeful, productive retirement is possible. We want people both retired and looking towards retirement to feel good about themselves and confident in the future.
Here are a number of our favorite posts – The Marking of Time: Retirement Style, It’s Your Time, You Decide, Our Differences: You Say Tomato…, and Taking Control Of Your Modern Retirement, for starters. These posts remain among our favorites because they reflect our perspectives about retirement–like the importance of taking ownership and marking time in new ways–which were not immediately obvious to us when we retired. They explain our differences, which are a large part of why we think our voice is inclusive and unique and because style is an important part of our message.
What’s your best advice for women in midlife who are seeking to “retire without retiring”?
Our best advice is to wait until you have been retired for a little while before deciding what to do next, and be aware that the options are endless, though sometimes you have to work at creating them. We also think that having a purpose is key. That purpose will differ for everyone, but we found that “working,” feeling useful and doing something that takes some effort, is important, especially for women like us whose identity was so tied up in our working lives for so many years.
The identity piece is critical. We decided to acknowledge how hard it is to answer the question
“What do you do?” and to try to find a satisfactory answer. Being comfortable defining ourselves in the present tense has turned out to be a problem worth solving. We hope others will be inspired to do the same.
What are some of your favorite resources for women in midlife?
We have not found so many resources for women in midlife–whatever that is… Most of the literature is addressed to finances, a key point but only part of the picture and one that needs to be addressed before retirement. We like Don’t Retire, Rewire, but only some people react positively to that sort of detailed approach to daily activity. There are other “how-to” books, that try to tell you how to deal with all of your free time, with suggestions like gardening, and some about how to stay healthy, like Younger Next Year for Women: Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy – Until You’re 80 and Beyond. Most of these do not convey the sort of active lifestyle that we have in mind.
Useful websites include Huffpost 50, Next Avenue, Nifty After Fifty, Sixty & Me. Style websites that sometimes reflect what we think include Vogue and Racked. But we are not often satisfied with the way these sites address the issues we think are key–identity and purpose.
That’s one reason we started Lustre; we found that most of the images of older women and retirement were negative–weak, leaky, needy, boring. We think retired career women are in the prime of their lives, and retirement can be a springboard for an engaged, purposeful, and stylish, life. We designed the website to reflect the images we want to project, and we think it is unique.
Erica Baird and Karen E. Wagner, retired corporate lawyers, co-founded their website, Lustre, to defy stereotypes and change attitudes about older women and retirement. After practicing law for decades, they have now embarked on a new career, to create a modern image of retired career women and a modern picture of what retirement can look like for them. They’ve also created a Facebook Group, Lustre Staying Power, to give a voice to the large number of retired women who know that they are still in the game.