Mid-Life Startup: Entrepreneur Carole Rains Shines In Her Third Act
Five years ago Carole Rains, 60, didn’t know what an emu was.
And now she is in the online retail business of selling Emu Joy, the brand name she created for dozens of consumer skincare and pain relief products based on emu oil. For the record, an emu is the flightless bird that looks like an unattractive ostrich.
“Maybe two out of 10 people have heard of emu oil,” says Rains, who launched this business after two other successful careers.
She is a serial entrepreneur who is in her third act of her career– advertising, restaurants and now, e-commerce and emus.
Growing up in New Jersey, Rains graduated from Bethany College, an unlikely rural college choice “way out in the country” in West Virginia, where she graduated with a degree in graphic design in 1981.
“I wanted to live in a big city,” Rains says, so she moved to Boston and started in an entry level position in advertising, working her way up from receptionist to account executive.
She spent a total of 17 years in the advertising business, moving back to New Jersey after three years in Boston.
With long hours and two children at home, Rains wanted to have a career that was more flexible, so she launched into the restaurant world.
“I became an $8 an hour deli cook so I could be home by 3 p.m.,“ Rains says.
For the next 17 years she worked in restaurants, until she says that in her 50s, the difficulties of carrying giant crates of produce and working long hours in hot kitchens was too much for her physically.
Her daughter, Lauren, encouraged her to start her own business. “I started my own online store,” she says, “and I became a sponge for all things e-commerce on different platforms. It was fun to learn all that.”
She launched RusticArtistry.com in 2013, combining her love of rustic home furnishings and handcrafted items with retail sales.
“I had this dream of living in a cabin in the woods,” says Rains, who still lives in the suburbs in New Jersey.
She represents American artisans all over the country and markets and curates the custom handmade furnishings and decorations.
Recently, cookbook author and TV personality Rachael Ray launched into e-commerce, acknowledging the need for women in the field. According to Bazaar, she “is trying her hand at fashion with the launch of Moxie Made, an e-commerce site that highlights female-founded brands. Ray announced the digital market place at a celebration during South by Southwest.”
The future of e-commerce is exceptionally bright. According to Born2Invest, “By the year 2040, it is expected that 95 percent of all purchases will be made online. Over the past several years, new tools and technologies have emerged that were total game-changers for the online retail sector. 2019 is setting itself up to be a monumental year of growth and change for e-commerce, as it will pave the way to support a future where purchases are a mere click away. Since things are changing so quickly in e-commerce, it is important that online business owners are aware of the trends and crazes needed to keep their brands relevant.”
Rains is in on the growth trend.
In 2014, one year into her e-commerce business, RusticArtistry, she decided she wanted to do another online business that was daily sales.
“I was reading a blog about emu oil and I had never heard of it,” says Rains. “I started researching and found this is such a great product that has been around for thousands of years and used for burns and cuts and it is just not well-known here. “
A successful entrepreneur of two businesses, Rains says she is not planning to start another, but considers Emu Joy a sellable business. She offers these tips to entrepreneurs of any age wishing to jumpstart an idea into a business.
Knowledge transfers. “You can parlay your knowledge from one business to another, but it still takes twice the time to learn a new business. I don’t think I realized that. When I started Emu Joy, I had challenges to allocating my time.”
Go into it with confidence. “The beauty of having your own business is it gives you flexibility. I can take that time away and all I need is my laptop. Being an e-commerce entrepreneur allows you to visit places and do more things.”
Create a support network. “I’ve met a lot of people in e-commerce and we’ve become friends. It’s great to have a network to help and answer questions. It is mostly men in their 20s, 30s and 40s in e-commerce and not very many women. But they don’t care what age I am.”
“It’s easier at midlife to start your own business because you have the wisdom and experience,“ Rains says. “It didn’t even occur to me it would not work.”
She adds that she is not considering starting another e-business, but perhaps selling Emu Joy. “What I would like to do is take the profits and go find a cabin.”