Women in Retail Leadership Circle is excited to announce the release of its latest report, New Next Gen: Meet the Women Who Have Transitioned Their Careers for Successful Second Acts. This report spotlights entrepreneurial women who have reinvented themselves and their careers after the
age of 40. Through in-depth interviews, you’ll learn what inspired these extraordinary women leaders to make an impact, all in their own unique ways.

One such woman is Sheena D. Franklin, the founder and CEO of K’ept Health, a first-of-its-kind modern digital dermatology and skincare clinic for all women, no matter skin tone or skin condition. In this interview, which was excerpted from the New Next Gen report, Franklin details what inspired her to launch K’ept Health, the challenges that confronted her along the way and how she overcame them, her advice for other women contemplating a career change, and much more.

Women in Retail Leadership Circle: What was your age when you started your new business venture? What is your current age?
Sheena D. Franklin: I started thinking about the overall concept of the company when I was 37, however, I started working full time on the business right after my 40th birthday. I am now 42.

WIRLC: What inspired you to make a change later in your career?
SDF: It was a combination of wanting to have more autonomy and see my vision of advocating for women manifest into reality. I’ve been passed over for promotions, despite stellar performance reviews, etc., one too many times, and I was always left feeling as though I was putting my life into someone else’s hands, and that became a real fear. 

WIRLC: What steps did you take to start anew?
SDF: I definitely took baby steps. First, I worked through in my mind and on paper what type of business I wanted to start by asking myself various questions, such as:

  • What skills do I have?
  • What industry expertise could I draw upon?
  • What was fulfilling to me?
  • What were my natural interests outside of what I had previously done for the past 20 years?

Next, I read relevant books, listened to podcasts (contacting guests that I found interesting), and attended every workshop, event or conference that I could to learn and network. Lastly, I had to just start and keep an open mind about the journey.

WIRLC: What were the primary challenges that confronted you in making this career change? How did you overcome those challenges?
SDF: The biggest challenge came after the decision to make the career change when the initial excitement was over it was my mindset. I have a network of entrepreneurs that come together to vent about frustrations, rejections and mistakes. There are plenty of groups to work through specific business challenges, but none just to be human, almost like group therapy for female entrepreneurs over 40 who face a unique set of challenges and fears. Also, I have a morning ritual that includes prayer, exercise and meditation, with a lesson or affirmations. 

WIRLC: Did you have mentors or other people in your network that helped with this career transition?
SDF: I did have a small group of mentors that I talked to about transitioning my career. Some were supportive and some were not. I found the most help from women who became entrepreneurs after working at larger corporations for a number of years in leadership roles. I found they knew exactly what I had been through and knew what I would face in the future. These women were able to provide practical business resources, guidance and personal encouragement. 

WIRLC: What advice do you have for other women that may be interested in a change further into their career?
SDF: When considering a career change I suggest getting crystal clear on your bigger vision, learn as much as you can about the new industry, and take a close look at how this will impact your family/lifestyle, then determine if you’re willing to take the risk and make adjustments. Also, a lot of books, blogs, etc., say to do informational interviews, speak to this or that person, but I say edit your resume and apply for the new position/take the interview or start the company part time or as a side hustle because it’s like learning to swim at some point you just have to jump in the water. 

WIRLC: What are you most looking forward to in 2021, both personally and professionally?
Personally, I’m looking forward to a calmer year. After making several adjustments last year, I think I’m in a better place to see and take advantage of the silver lining in it all. Professionally, I’m looking forward to expanding the team and the mission of K’ept Health to help women proactively advocate for themselves when it comes to their health.

For more inspiring stories like that of Sheena D. Franklin, download the New Next Gen report today!