Lustre is a website for older women who are seeking a modern retirement founded by Erica and Karen, both lawyers in New York City. As women, it’s important that we support each other. Here is their story.
Facing retirement and changing it
Forty years in the workforce. Hundreds of millions in buying power. Vast and varied experience. And a strong desire to continue to contribute and be productive. We are the first large group of career women who worked full time outside the home and we are now retiring. We changed the working world. Now, we aim to change retirement. Lustre was created to bring us together and make our voices heard.
From the start, we have been at the forefront of change. Coming up, with few role models, we broke through that most basic stereotype, rejecting the notion of “women’s work”—something to fill the gap between school and marriage. We confronted harassment and discrimination, both obvious and subtle. We rose to the challenge of having to work harder and prove more. We did everything our male colleagues did at work and then at home we did even more.
How older women have made a difference in the world
Over time, our presence changed everything. At work, we were at the table. Outside of work, we were offered new products and services. We graduated from navy pinstriped suits and blouses with bows to DVF wrap dresses in the ’70s and Armani chic in the ’80s. We exchanged clunky low heels for spikes in colors, and briefcases for tote bags. Grocery stores opened earlier and closed later for us. An image of career women emerged that was different from that of working men and different from that of women whose work was mainly in the home. We loved it.
As long as we worked, we were a highly visible, valued component of the diversifying workforce. But now that we are retiring, we’re suddenly and unexpectedly invisible, hidden behind a very outdated stereotype of older women. A stereotype that shows us as frail, withdrawn, dowdy, irrelevant. A stereotype that says all we want now is to rid ourselves of the pressures of working and living in the wider world. A stereotype that assumes we have nothing to offer the world in which we lived for so long. Like most, this stereotype of retired women does not fit many of us. Instead, it hides who we are, makes us feel worthless and irrelevant, and generally just brings us down.
A positive image of modern retirement
Why do we want to blow up the stereotype and create an accurate image? Why do we care? We care because we understand the power of images. Positive ones can help you advance. You feel good about yourself and others feel good about you. Negative ones diminish you and rob you of opportunity and possibility. You don’t value yourself, and others don’t value you either.
So we founded Lustre to replace that archaic image with a new one. To show us as we are. To make us visible again. To put us back on the map, where we belong.
Reinvention and Lustre
Lustre shows that we are still relevant, resourceful and that we can continue to be a vital–though different–part of the working world. We can take advantage of new working models like the freelance/independent contractor economy. Business likes these new models because they provide a more strategic match between their needs and worker skills. Millennials like them because they enable a different kind of engagement and because they provide flexible ways to engage. They suit us too. An intergenerational workforce has many advantages. Millennials bring new knowledge and a fresh perspective while we bring experience and judgment.
Boomer women as consumers
Second, Lustre showcases our cohort’s vast economic power. The projected global income of women will rise from $12.5 trillion currently to $18.5 trillion by 2018. Boomers own 70% of disposable income in the United States, and women control the spending of most of it. We have the power to revitalize retail, technology, and all kinds of goods and services.
Empowerment and politics
Third, Lustre shows us as a political force. We care deeply about politics because we know it affects everyone and everything. We vote. We read. We follow the news, closely. As we mobilize (again), we will make a difference.
Modern women – modern retirement
The mission of Lustre is to show that we are as vibrant and engaged as we ever were. We do not want to relive our past accomplishments. We do want to create a more fulfilling future. Retirement is a springboard for new accomplishments, a time of opportunity and challenge. What we seek now is not so very different from what we sought when we started our careers. We wanted to be visible and make a difference then, as the new career women that we were then. We want the same now. We are modern women and we want a modern retirement.
Visit Karen and Erica’s website here.