We first touched base with Jill Boehler in 2008 when her brand new business, Chilly Jilly, was just really getting off the ground. Since then, this “meno-preneur” and baby boomer women business owner has continued to build her business, her brand, and become a profile in success after 50 that can inspire us all! See what has changed for Jill Boehler…
Q. Your business “Chilly Jilly” has grown exponentially since our first interview in 2008! How has your life changed, and has it surprised you?
A. My life has obviously taken some unexpected turns, some positive and some negative. My business is on my mind all the time so it is difficult to fully “get away” for any amount of time. I often long for the days when I came home from work and was 100% at home. There is a trade off because on the other hand I very much enjoy working for myself and making all of the final decisions. I enjoy the endless possibilities owning a business presents. Each day is different and it is fun to see what comes next. I am surprised when the seemingly impossible tasks (for me ) come together. Taking the first step is the most difficult and then everything else seems to follow. I have learned so much over the past years about business and have had the opportunity to meet so many great people.
Q. So many women really struggle with empty nest. Can you share how and why it contributed to your decision to begin your own business and move forward?
A. Our situation was unique because we had also moved to a new state because of my husband’s career so I was unfamiliar with the area and didn’t really know anyone. I thought “no kids, no friends, no job” I could have found a job as a speech pathologist and everything would have been the same minus kids at home. Starting this business got me very excited again and I was so busy I didn’t suffer at all from empty nest syndrome. I developed a network of friends through the business. My family was very involved so it even served to unite us even closer. It was also an easier time in life to be committed to a business me because I was no longer ending my day when the school bus came or running to all of my kids events.
Q. What was it like being a fifty-something woman and a newcomer to the entrepreneurial world? Did you have any peers who were in the same place as you were?
A. Some of the time I was dealing with very young women, just out of college who were now the buyers for major store chains. I think there is some age prejudice there for sure. I think if I were younger I would “get my foot in the door” more easily. On the other hand, I have met many young entrepreneurs who I have mentored and we have shared info and sources. I did not start this business knowing anyone who has done this before but have since made some strong friendships.
A. I am DEFINITELY busier now than ever. The good thing is that I can really work from anywhere in most cases. I have three new grandchildren so I like to keep priorities in tact and see them as much as possible…My family is proud and supportive of the success of Chilly Jilly but still wants the attention they deserve.
Q. What suggestions or experience would you offer to fifty-something women who are thinking about starting a business once they hit that empty nest time?
A. Take it one step at a time or it will be too overwhelming. You can’t take negative comments personally. ( I am still working on that) No one can please everyone.
Q. How do you see your business growing moving forward? What’s next for you?
A. We are working on some new awesome products and the ideas never seem to stop. Each new product revitalizes the company and me…I hope I am always involved with Chilly Jilly because I think it has just begun but hopefully I will be able to give it over to someone else in the near future and enjoy my family and some free time.