Interview by Ceri Wheeldon
I connected with Gina on social media in the early days of Fab after Fifty. Gina has turned her love for art into a business- designing and selling art prints and fabulous T-shirts. Gina shares her midlife reinvention story.
A little about Gina
I live in seaside town of Bangor in Northern Ireland, but was born in Dublin and lived there until age 16. I’ve been married for 34 years this month. Unfortunately due to various health conditions I don’t have any children, but have many wonderful nephews, nieces, great nieces and great nephews!
What were your main activities before turning 50?
I was a secretary for 35 years before leaving to re-start my art as a hobby, which has now turned into a small business which I run together with my artist/photographer husband Stephen.
What have been your main activities since turning 50?
I run a small art business selling art prints and printed t-shirts worldwide via my Instagram page @ginaGpotter I also support my husband Stephen with his art business, which is mainly now sold via Flatspace Gallery, London.
What prompted you to start your business/ take up the challenge/follow your dream.
My Husband took early retirement after 40 years in BT and he suggested I leave my job to spend more quality time with him, which in turn gave me the freedom to return to my love of art.
How old were you when you started?
I started a year ago at age 54.
Did you have to take any courses or training to do this?
No I only did art in school until I left at age 16.
What does your business look like today?
My business is growing daily and I have been contacted by various retailers wanting to stock my t-shirts. My art prints sell via various retailers all over England. I will shortly be selling my printed t-shirts in a beautiful Boutique Hotel near my home in Bangor, Northern Ireland. I was delighted when the owner approached me!
What has been the best aspect of your journey so far?
The best aspect is being able to be creative and to enjoy what I do after 35 years of office life! Also working from home is fantastic!
What was /is your biggest fear?
My biggest fear would be orders drying up so I constantly think of new designs and ways of promoting my products.
Did anybody in particular inspire you?
My Aunt in America encouraged me to do more art and even sold my very first t-shirts that I hand painted when I was 16 in her beautiful boutique in Dallas, USA.
What difference has it made to your life?
It has made me more confident in my ability and I’m more relaxed and enjoy spending quality time with my husband. I can also work hours to suit myself.
What challenges did you initially face? How did you overcome them?
The challenges were spreading the word about my designs as I don’t have a website. Working with bloggers overcame this immensely.
How did the opportunity come about?
I posted a photo on my Instagram page of a t-shirt I hand painted as a hobby and I got my first order from that.
What other opportunities have materialised as a result?
I have made new friends via Instagram and many new followers on Instagram. It has also encouraged my husband to restart his art.
Which of your previous experiences (if any) did you draw upon the most?
I drew experience from hand painting t-shirts for my aunts boutique many years ago (all of which sold) when I was 16, ie seeing what customers want and what catches the eye.
What are your next steps?
To continue creating new “think outside the box” designs with my husband that capture peoples attention
How have friends and family reacted?
They have been very supportive and encouraging. My nieces also wear my designs which is great!
At times it would be nice to get a complete break for a few days, but I find I can’t switch off as I’m constantly thinking of the next design, or new ways to promote them. I also need to use social media on a regular basis, as that’s how I get orders and obtain new followers.
What 3 tips would you give other women over 50 looking to do something similar?
If you have a hobby or an idea to retrain in another career, give it a go! Life is short! You may not make a fortune, but money isn’t everything, quality of life so much more important.
Try to engage with your followers who are your potential customers.
Work with bloggers who have a good following, promotion is key.
A little bit more about you……
All time favourite book or film?
My fav film is 5th Element, big sci fi fan.
How would you describe your own style?
My style is smart casual and I like to wear my t-shirts to promote them.
Three words that sum up your life over 50
Busy / Creative / Enjoyable
I love Gina’s T-shirts – have bought for myself and as a gift for a friend. You can follow her on instagram at @ginaGpotter