What highly successful women in retail were doing in their teens, 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s


Whatever age and stage you’re at, prepare to be inspired by these extraordinary retail entrepreneurs. 

The path to success is not an easy one. Women of all ages feel pressured to live a life of accomplishment, but in most cases, it takes time. It takes time to realise your strengths, gain experience or know what sparks your ambition.
The proof lies with our Retail Ambassadors who have recalled their career stories, starting from childhood to the present day. Read on to see how their careers formed over the years.


I was told that I should not bother to try and achieve anything significant. Remember, this was 1977 and most girls were encouraged to be secretaries! 

Dominique Tillen, Director, Brush Baby Ltd

My aunt was living with us and studying hairdressing. I used to love applying and peeling off her Max Factor liquid eyeliner, watching her paint her nails and backcombing her hair. That’s when my romance with the beauty world began.

Maleka Dattu, ‎Creator and Director, MERUMAYA Integrative Effective Skincare

I didn’t really have a strong career idea in mind at this stage but I knew that if I put my mind to it I would excel, however I wasn’t really inspired at school.

Deryane Tadd, Director, The Dressing Room


Teenage years and 20s

I was at Sixth Form College and then on to Exeter University to read history.  As both my parents died over this period, I learned that I could be very self-sufficient.

Harriet Hastings, co-founder Biscuiteers

I was travelling the world and I came back with the lesson that all people have value, the world is such a diverse place and well worth looking after.

Dominique Tillen, Brush Baby Ltd

My father told me ‘you are just a sales girl’. (Don’t scream here, I am glad he said that!)I set out to be the best sales girl and grew a successful career reaching the level of Senior Vice President/General Manager of North America for the Estee Lauder Companies, and now have my own brand that I created.

Maleka Dattu, ‎Creator and Director, MERUMAYA


I was working in a job I didn’t like just to earn money. It dawned on me that I was making money for other people and not able to spend as much time with my young daughter as much as I needed too. However, investing your money wisely is the key to financial freedom.

Dominique Tillen, Director, Brush Baby Ltd

After a short stint working as an Area Manager for LK Bennett London flagship stores, I realised that it was time to start my own fashion retail business. On my 33rd birthday, after finally securing a bank loan, I opened The Dressing Room in St Albans in a small store in a secondary location.

Deryane Tadd, Director, The Dressing Room

I was having a hugely exciting time running the technology division through the dot com boom and bust. At this time, I had my fourth baby and started to think about leaving the agency world. I also started to think that starting your own business is a real possibility for anyone with a great idea and began to think about launching my own brand.

Harriet Hastings, Founder and Managing Director, Biscuiteers Baking Company


Early 40s

I was a Senior Vice President & General Manager, North America Origins, Estee Lauder Cos. This meant I lived in New York City, travelling all over the USA. I learnt that second marriages don’t always work and perhaps I was making the wrong choices. Time is our most precious asset and that as good as my life was, I would have to make some changes to make sure the second half was even better than the first half.

Maleka Dattu, ‎Creator and Director, MERUMAYA

At 41 I was honoured to be an everywoman Retail Ambassador. I am so passionate about this industry being seen as a great career choice, so this was a real honour to be held up as a role model. I am 42 now and I am currently planning our 10 year birthday celebrations at The Dressing Room – I can hardly believe where the time has gone.  In that time the business has grown from a team of two to a team of 13 today.

Deryane Tadd, Director, The Dressing Room

I was looking after four children and taking some time out working freelance and helping my husband with the marketing of his London based catering and events company. At the age 43 I launched Biscuiteers which felt like a great combination of both mine and my husband’s skill sets.

Harriet Hastings, Founder and Managing Director, Biscuiteers Baking Company

Mid 40s to 50s

Following five miscarriages, I fell pregnant naturally at the age of 48 and gave birth to my daughter. Which has been my biggest blessing. I finally made my dream come true when I created MERUMAYA Integrative Effective Skincare.

Maleka Dattu, ‎Creator and Director, MERUMAYA

Now I have a business that contributes towards improving children’s health, I have created jobs, met some great people and I have some more time for my daughter. This is more like it!

Dominique Tillen, Director, Brush Baby Ltd