Never Too Late To Start: Women Who Found Success Later in Life

Think it’s too late to achieve your goals? To switch careers, or find your true passion? Think again.

Success doesn’t know age. Many powerhouse women found their inner strength long after their first jobs and gained true success later in life – and they wouldn’t have it any other way. There are too many to name but here are nine strong women who know it’s never too late to start something you love.

Special K has no affiliation with these women (we wish!) but will always champion female inner strength — at any age.

Judy Sheindlin

Judy Sheindlin, or Judge Judy to her legions of fans, didn’t star in her own show until she was in her 50s. After nearly 25 years in New York’s Family Court, Judge Sheindlin retired from the bench in 1996 to start her eponymous show, a reality courtroom series.

Since 2012, she’s earned $47 million a year from hosting Judge Judy. She won her second daytime Emmy in 2016.


Vera Wang

Vera Wang has dressed some of the world’s most famous brides, including Victoria Beckham, Ivanka Trump and Kim Kardashian and designed evening gowns for such names as Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama.

However, the American designer didn’t open her flagship boutique until she was 40, in 1990.

Vivienne Westwood

Fashion designer Vivienne Westwood was 36 when she opened her Chelsea boutique, SEX, with Malcolm McLaren, who went on to become manager of the Sex Pistols. The pair revolutionized style with the punk uniform of safety pins, rips, zips and bondage trousers. She also came late to design, only launching her first runway show at age 41.

Susan Boyle

Scottish singer Susan Boyle stole hearts around the world in 2009 when, at the age of 48, she sang I Dreamed A Dream on the TV show Britain’s Got Talent. The audition was one of the most-watched YouTube videos of the year.


Susan, who had been bullied as a child, had never sung professionally before. I Dreamed A Dream became the UK’s best-selling debut album of all time. She’s sold more than 19 million albums worldwide, received two Grammy Awards nominations and performed at Windsor Castle for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant.

Jo Pavey 

Ten months after giving birth to her second child, British long-distance runner Jo Pavey won the 10,000m gold medal at the 2014 European Championships in Zürich to become the oldest female European champion in history at the age of 40 years and 325 days.

The five-time Olympian won the women’s Vitality 10,000m in London in May 2017 aged 43, becoming the first triple winner of the women’s crown.

Lynda Weinman

Lynda Weinman, known as a “mother of the internet,” started her online learning platform,, with her husband, Bruce. At the time, she was a 40-year-old web design teacher who used it as a way to communicate with her students.

Lynda Weinman headshot

Now more than half of the top 50 largest publicly traded companies use the site’s online courses and video tutorials to keep employees up to speed. Lynda is one of America’s most successful self-made women, and she and her husband sold to LinkedIn for $1.5 billion in April 2015.

JK Rowling

JK Rowling was 30 when she finally finished Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the first of her famous series, after seven years. Twelve publishers rejected it. It was Bloomsbury who saw the light and offered her a small advance.

Within five years she went from living on state benefits to being a multi-millionaire. According to the 2017 Sunday Times Rich List, she has a £650million fortune, meaning her wealth has grown 10 times since she first entered the list in 2001.

Kathryn Bigelow

In 2010 Kathryn Bigelow became the first female director to win an Oscar in the 82 years since the awards began. She was 57. The Hurt Locker won a total of six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, as well as six BAFTAs, including Best Film and Best Director.

She remains the only woman to have won an Academy Award for Best Director. Women made up only 7 percent of all directors working on the top 250 films of 2016.