A lifelong entrepreneur, Sue Cowie has always had an eye for "white space"—a hole in the market around which she could create a company and vision. She took that talent to a previously overlooked demographic: women over 45 who "resolved to live life differently." Two years ago, she created The Fine Line, an online publication to help those women embrace aging through content focused on wellness, fitness, beauty, and lifestyle.
Helping other women feel positive about themselves isn't just a job for our Fairygodboss of the Week. It's a calling. "It's not work to me," she says. "It's my passion."
Fairygodboss of the Week: Sue Cowie
Founder, The Fine Line
Los Angeles, California
Tell us a little about your career. How did you get to where you are now?
I have always been an entrepreneur—I love to create and build companies.
My first venture, due to my passion for exercise and fitness, was designing and manufacturing a line of athletic wear, back in the days when workout wear was not so easily converted to streetwear. The challenge for me is not always having the background or experience in a certain market but seeing a white space for something and creating a company around that.
From workout wear, I moved on the interior design and started a very successful design agency here in Venice, CA on a famous street, Abbot Kinney. It satisfied both my appreciation of beautiful things and my desire to fill my life with interesting people and characters, which the artist enclave had in spades.
When I closed the studio I had time to think about what I wanted to do next. I saw white space on the web for an ignored demographic: women over 45 who resolved to live life differently and two years ago I created The Fine Line, an online publication to embrace aging with content focused on wellness, fitness, beauty, and lifestyle.
What is an accomplishment that you are proud of?
At 61, I am most proud of The Fine Line and how it has pushed me to learn so many new things, such as social media, analytics, and digital publishing. I don’t know that wisdom really helps [when it] comes to social media and analytics. It was extremely intimidating and overwhelming. But I realized I didn’t have an option; if I wanted to have a business, I better get my head around it.
The 18 months since launch haven’t always been easy. There have been slow starts and struggles of the kind affecting smaller digital publications everywhere: the dominance of social media platforms like Facebook shrinking audience size, the uphill battle for brand sponsors, and so on have made it even more challenging. But here's the thing: I love a challenge.
What do you do when you're not working?
Exercise and fitness have been my passion for over 30 years. It is my meditation, my time when I can be present in the now, and it always helps me work out any challenges or problems I may have.
If you could have dinner with one famous person—dead or alive—who would it be?
What is your favorite movie?
What book would you bring with you on a desert island?
I think I would need at least six books.
What is the #1 career tip you'd like to share with other women who want to have successful careers like you?
I think it takes courage to go out on your own, and it's not always easy. When I started my workout wear line, BIJU, I had a full-time job and worked nights and weekends to build the brand. Eventually. after two years, I was able to leave my job and dedicate 100% to BIJU.
It was not easy, but I had a vision and a passion and nothing could stop me. I eventually sold the brand which helped me to move onto to my next venture.
And in order for any of my companies to be successful, it required immense amounts of research, surrounding myself with great experienced people and being willing to work seven days a week to get the business up and running. Perseverance, focus, and hard work are my tips.
Why do you love where you work?
Because it's not work to me; it's my passion. I love what I do, and I believe in embracing women as they age as they move into their 40s, 50s, and beyond.
Whenever I am in touch with this audience, with these women, I feel this warmth in my heart. It’s so difficult at this time being a woman. It’s hard to see your looks changing and your body changing, and you feel like you’re becoming invisible … but we’re all in this together. And it can be different. And that’s why I love what we’re doing.
Fairygodboss is all about women helping other women - so each week, we celebrate a woman who made a difference in another woman’s career. Is there a woman who has made a difference in your career? Celebrate her and thank her by nominating her here.