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Local Businesswomen Show It’s Never Too Late to Change Careers

Lea Hutson working with a few of her clients

We know her as the host of the popular Food Network show, Barefoot Contessa. She’s also the author of a series of best-selling cookbooks providing creative insights into making everything from cocktails to comfort food. But did you know that Ina Garten once worked in the White House Office of Management and Budget writing nuclear energy budgets?

In a search for something more fun (and, honestly, what wouldn’t be?) she found her way into the food world. Garten’s not the only woman who has made a detour or two in her career path. Some of our North Hills’ neighbors have done the same thing.

Doreen Miles

Doreen Miles began working for a pharmaceutical company right out of college. After 13 successful years with the same company, she changed direction and started a Mary Kay® business. “I was 34 years old and had just become a mother for the third time,” said Miles.

With children ages four, two and six months, Miles felt that she was losing too many hours with her little ones. “I thought about asking my company about a part-time opportunity,” she said. “But my sister-in-law had just started a Mary Kay business that year and shared some information about the company with me.”

What Miles loved most about working in pharmaceutical sales was meeting new people, the fact that every day was different, and that she was working alone but was still part of a team. Her Mary Kay business provides similar benefits. “Mary Kay has no quotas and no territories, so that meant I could work as much or as little as I wanted and really focus on my kids,” she said.

Switching careers at any point can be unnerving, however. “Part of me was concerned about giving up my career with the company, but I had always wanted to be a mom and I had three little kids and I knew that the time would go so fast before they would be off to college,” said Miles. “I was worried that I would regret leaving pharmaceutical sales, but I was more worried that I would regret not spending more time with my kids.”

Lea Hutson

At 40, something changed for Lea Hutson. “For two decades I taught elementary school; I was passionate about teaching and even branched out into school administration and supervision,” said Hutson, a single mom who appreciated the benefits of a secure position. “I knew that a change would require me to walk away from my comfort zone as a teacher, my health benefits, and my students.”

Still, she chose to move onto a new challenge, turning a part-time gig into a full-time entrepreneurial career. Hutson now works as a final expense specialist and recruiter for Lincoln Heritage Life Insurance Company, a change that also led her to an additional career as a master Life Cycle Celebrant, officiating weddings, funerals and ceremonies across the life cycle.

“What I’ve learned working with people for more than 30 years is that everyone has a story—and everyone deserves to have their story told,” said Hutson. This new venture allows her to combine her writing skills with her passion for helping people celebrate and acknowledge the milestones in their lives.

“My job is to be the voice of my client: to listen to their stories and plan the appropriate ceremony,” explained Hutson. “It doesn’t have to be a story of sorrow; it can be a story of joy and special moments in life that deserve to be celebrated.”

Lorraine Marks

Relocating to Pittsburgh from England forced Lorraine Marks to do some serious networking. “I’ve always been a networker, so I began reaching out to people in all sorts of diverse ways,” said Marks. She worked in sales and retail management for many years, and when she chose to take some time off to be with her kids, her work role was filled with volunteering.

“I joined the Junior League and started a small nonprofit,” said Marks. “The volunteer opportunities were awesome and kept me up-to-date in the world of technology.”

When she rejoined the workforce after pursuing an associate’s degree in business and marketing, she returned to sales, working with a project management tool called Virtual Project Office.

At 52, Marks combined her life experiences, education, and encouragement from entrepreneurial friends to start her own business, Lorraine Marks Consulting. “I began with a website and a business plan, and I also reached out to SCORE and received an incredible mentor who has been instrumental in giving me the confidence needed to start my business,” she said of her company that provides consulting and virtual assistant services for clients.

One month into the launch of Lorraine Marks Consulting, the opportunity arose for Marks to get in at the ground level of a new skincare start-up called Lorde+Belle. The key product that drew her in was the Regen Pen, an esthetician quality, at-home tool that uses nanotechnology to stimulate collagen for immediate and long-term rejuvenating results.

“That’s something every 52-year-old wants!” laughed Marks, adding that she is proud to be juggling a consulting business, a skincare business, busy parenting duties and an active social life.

As for the benefits of starting a business or making a career change later in life, “Decades of experience gives you credibility that you don’t have when you’re just coming out of college,” said Marks.

Maturity does have some advantages.

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