The Courage to Jump – -Women Behind the Network -Cucumber Clothing – Female Leaders At 50 and Beyond

Cucumber Clothing

September 2019

Eileen Willett

Nancy Zeffman


It’s been bang on two years since we took the plunge and launched Cucumber Clothing.  Just the other day, Nancy Zeffman my Co-founder, and I dug out and dusted off our original business plan.  Reading it, I can see it’s a sort of wish list of our then hopes, desires and dreams for our fledging company.  It was good for us to see that even before we had started, some of our specific stated aims were based around creating not only a problem solving product that would make women look and feel good, but also a company that was willing to try as hard as possible to be ethical and sustainable.


It was even better to see how much we had learned, how many challenges we faced and how far we had come.


The original kernel for our idea was born on a hot holiday. We were a group of female friends, and there was a lot of talk around sleeplessness, heat, and hormones. When we returned, we did some research and were astonished to find that the only garments on offer either looked ‘medical’ or were deemed seriously dowdy.  We decided then and there to create a sustainable brand that took the latest cutting edge fabric tech and married it to gorgeous design and helped solve a problem.


What gave us the courage to jump in at the deep end and start up a start up at an age and stage of life that most associate with cruising rather than coding? After a bit of thought, it seems to us to have been the most sensible thing we could have done. We had emerged on the other side of the whole travelling circus known as bringing up a family, and it seemed suddenly we had space and time to call our own. With experience, energy, enthusiasm, and with the re-emergence of ‘me-time’, channelling all of these into a project we truly believed in felt completely right.



For those of us born into the generation somewhere between the Baby Boomers and Gen X, this time in our lives has brought us unlooked for rewards.  Are there some stray grey hairs and wrinkles emerging? Yes, but the prospect of a six o’clock meeting no longer entails ridiculously complicated childcare juggling. We can sleep peacefully through the night, have a lie in when we want, spend the weekend brainstorming at will, and pack orders all night long if needs be.  In our fifties we have the sort of self-confidence we could have only dreamed of in our twenties. We love the challenges that running a start up forces us to confront, aren’t afraid to make fools of ourselves, (because it means we’re learning), and after years of intense multi-tasking on multiple fronts, feel more than well-equipped for whatever our business throws at us. Best of all, starting Cucumber Clothing has given us the opportunity to meet a host of new people of all ages, and learn new ideas that may otherwise have passed us by. It keeps us planted firmly in the ‘now’ and reinforces life lessons, the most important of which is that kindness always pays.


Our generation of women has been brought up to expect more from life and from ourselves.  Fifty plus is no barrier to rock hard abs (if that’s what you want) or creating a successful business. The only rule is: figure out what you want, then go for it. See you along the way!

Cucumber range below




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