Inspirational Woman: Karen Davis | Founder, TOYL & Best-Selling Author

Karen DavisKaren Davis is a beauty and fitness PR with over twenty five year’s experience with her own agency representing brands such as OPI, Tweezerman and Monu to name just a few.

At the age of fifty, she found herself in a challenging space, with children gone and exhausted from years of juggling career, family, ageing parents and her own health.

She realised that she wasn’t the only one struggling as a midlife woman so set about reimagining her life to help both herself and others.

She is now an Amazon #1 Best Selling Author, an award- winning 40+ beauty blogger, prime time presenter on Wellbeing Radio and the founder of TOYL, a beauty subscription box for women over 40.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I’ve been in the beauty industry for over thirty years, originally as a beauty PR, later as the go-to person for reader offers for the national press and most recently as the founder of TOYL, my award-winning beauty subscription box for women over 40.

I loved being a beauty PR and was very lucky to have strong success in it, but in my late forties it all started to change.  I felt aged out of the role.  My major beauty contacts moved onto new projects and the younger journalists coming in didn’t have the same reference points as me.  This also coincided with my menopause and my sons leaving home.  Very quickly I found myself in a dark, challenging place and without the help of my husband I don’t know if I’d have got out of it.  When, finally, the light came back into the room I didn’t want any other midlife woman to go through what I’d been through.  Of course, that’s not totally possible but what I did want to do was create something just for midlife women.  Beauty is what I know and so I created the Time Of Your Life (www.TOYL.co.uk) beauty box.

So much of the beauty industry – the marketing, the aspirations, the visuals – are geared to Millenials today and I wanted a total space for us, midlife women.  The worst moment I saw in beauty was an anti-ageing range launched by a major brand with the face of a 19 year old.  It was insulting.

Midlife women are the fastest growing, soon to be biggest demographic in the world,  soon to be the largest demographic in the UK workforce yet we are still under represented in so many walks of live, broadcasting not being the least.  My company is about using beauty and self care to ensure that our confidence gets to an all-time high and stays there, allowing us to achieve what we want to with this special part of our lives.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

100%.

I know exactly how I want the next ten years to play out. However, I also remember the saying “if you want to make the Gods laugh, tell them your plans” because life will get in the way.  That said, I’m planning to succeed and I’ve put the blocks in place to get where I want to.  Will it happen?  Well, that’s the fun bit of life.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

I’m a big fan of Ant Middleton, Jason Fox and the SAS team as I think there is so much that midlife women can learn from the SAS (honestly!)

I went to see Ant Middleton speak and his fundamental truth is “there is no growth without change”. Change is scary, it is challenging on every level but if you want to grow professionally and personally it is the only road to go down. Every day. That brings the daily mental challenge of “can I do it?” to which the answer is always “there is only one way to find out”. Fear is the biggest challenge we all face today. It holds us back in everything but there is no growth in comfort. None at all.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Overcoming fear in any given situation. 

Doesn’t matter how big or small or if I fail in the task, if I have overcome fear to do it, it’s a win.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

The dog.

Now, that looks like an answer for laughs but I’m serious.  Because of the dog I go out walking every day, twice a day for at least thirty minutes.  I cannot tell you the number of studies that prove how movement helps the brain think.  Darwin, a man very much ahead of his time, created a circular walk within his Kent home and that is where he hit upon the Theory of Evolution, while walking.  Perhaps because of walking.  Movement starts up the brain and I would suggest that the next time your team are “Blue Sky” thinking take them for a walk.  Why creative meetings are held at desks I will never know.   The brain doesn’t like the static position, there’s no air, there’s no real stimulus besides verbal, there’s a hierarchy to the seating.  There’s also the health benefits of  movement.

For women, recent studies suggest that one thirty minute walk each day can half the risk of breast cancer.  Your insulin levels spike less if you walk after eating and one of the key things we should be focusing on with our health is levelling out our insulin.

The dog not only gets me outside but because of him I meet other people who want to talk dogs, who want to deepen their level of communication with animals and, as we all know, when life isn’t going well nothing beats the cuddle of a pet. 

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

I both mentor and am a mentee.  It is crucial to success and you cannot ever stop learning.  My mentors are Lynne Franks OBE, Tracey Woodward (ex CEO of Aromatherapy Associates and ex Head of Beauty for Marks & Spencer), Sue Peart (ex-editor of YOUMagazine for 21 years) and Alison Young (author and beauty expert on QVC).  I mentor a female photographer and a tapestry artist to help them maximise their income from what they do.  Get the very, very best mentors you can then pass it down the line.  Volunteer work and mentoring are something every business woman should do.  It’s one of the four pillars of how I live my life.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?

Sandy Toksvig, co founder of the Women’s Equality Party got paid 50% of what Stephen Fry did for the same job of chairing BBC quiz show QI. 

In 2020, it was stated that UK pay equality is still 100 years away. 

What could I suggest that brighter people than me haven’t already?  But, if I could change one thing it would be the will, in those who are stopping progress, the desire, to get things changed.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

Be careful how you measure success. 

I was walking through a hotel garden the other day and several young couples were checking out.  They all had the suitcases, the Tesla’s, the Chanel sunnies.  The talk was all of deals and the Polo and  in amongst them was the older woman in her puffa coat, hair pulled up in a ponytail, no make up (I was off to the spa).

 Yet I could well be more successful than any of them.  Not in monetary terms, no, but through my volunteer work I’m creating a hub to help remove social isolation in our local community and I’m building (with two others) a brand new observatory in the South Downs National Park so that schools, the public, all of us can learn about the universe in a friendly, entertaining way.  These two projects will be worth more than rubies to our local communities and the personal satisfaction in these projects is immense.   I think that is success.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

TOYL has big ambitions.

I’m launching an online, global course (The Ultimate Guide to Midlife Beauty) at the end of May 2022 as it’s only when you hit midlife do you realise that actually, the game has changed and you’re not going to be thirty five forever, however much your brain says you are.  Your hormones change, your face shape changes, your skin tone differs from years gone by and so everything needs re-evaluating from make up to skincare.  You also need to know about the choices out there.  I know a beauty journalist who suffered for years with a wart.  She went to see an advanced electrolysis at my recommendation and it went in three weeks.  Those issues are so damaging to confidence and so easily fixed.  This course is to give guidance to midlife women across all beauty issues, to ensure their confidence is sky high, but the course is just the start.  I have the next five years populated with highly ambitious projects, mostly around content, for TOYL and it’s going to take everything I’ve got to get them to fruition. 

TOYL is a positive community for midlife women and I’d like to extend that into lobbying broadcasters and Government to “see” this group.  Midlife women don’t kick up, but we have a lot to say.  We are wise, we have lived and we can help younger women and men see life in the round.  We have an incredible amount to offer and we need to be seen as us, not as an age.

Time of Your Life | Karen Davis

Midlife women are the fastest growing demographic in the world, we are the fastest growing workforce in the UK and we control 67% of all household spend.

But, society often sees midlife women as “over the hill” and unattractive while major brands and broadcasters simply ignore us. These years can be the most challenging of our lives with health issues, divorce, the menopause, empty nest adjustments, and losing loved ones being very real challenges.

Written, with experts, to help women over 40 to live these years brilliantly, The Time Of Your Life is your ultimate guide to living midlife well.

Time of Your Life - Karen Davis

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