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75-Year-Old ‘Serialpreneur’ On Navigating Professional Ups And Downs, New Chapters

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Olympic TShirts
Lynn Hamilton has run several different businesses plus a nonprofit over the course of her career — and has been laid off twice in her life. She shared some words of wisdom on Wednesday’s show.

Whether it’s 20 tips for 20-somethings or 30 movers and shakers under the age of 30, there’s always a new list aimed at young professionals doing big things. And that makes sense — early adulthood, after all, is typically focused on forging a career path.

But maybe there should also be some different lists. Say, 70 first-time novelists over the age of 70. Or 80 up-and-coming small business owners in their 80s.

Lynn Hamilton, now 75, remembers turning 50 and thinking she had officially peaked. At the time, she owned and operated The Chocolate Lady, a shop in Clayton and Overland, and things were going well. But she figured it was “downhill” from there, and not in a good way.

Then her main helper and sounding board — her husband — died.

“I was sort of bewildered,” Hamilton told St. Louis on the Air.

She sold the chocolate business and, eventually, found a way to reinvent herself — and to envision the years ahead of her in a more hopeful way. She’s since started a nonprofit, Maturity and Its Muse, and a T-shirt business, Olympic TShirts.

And even during this year of upheaval, Hamilton sees opportunity for new chapters ahead, no matter someone’s age.

“For me, it’s that the glass is more than half full, and if I stay in bed and pull the covers over my head, I’m never gonna get that glass even to my lips,” she said.

On Wednesday’s show, she joined host Sarah Fenske to share her perspective on why it’s never too late to try something new.

Hamilton opened up about being laid off on several occasions, including once in her 60s.

“Then I spent another year looking for a job. … I would be tempted to retire,” she said, “but I love work.”

Soon she was launching Maturity and Its Muse, which started out as a one-time event at the Sheldon featuring St. Louis artists over the age of 70. The reception that greeted the show prompted Hamilton to turn it into an ongoing effort.

“Before I knew it, I was putting on events for older people and people in senior homes and facilities and specializing in things for those with memory care needs, and I’ve been doing that ever since,” she explained.

Hamilton offered several ideas for others who are facing a new chapter in life.

“One of the particulars that I’ve found has been helpful to me [are] the programs — university for-a-day, university-for-life kinds of things — where you can get exposed from your chair to various educational things that maybe you always wanted to do,” she said.

“I think it’s particularly harder right now [in the age of COVID-19], because here we are, so how can we do something during this time? I think we need to plan for the future, plan for next spring, when it’s going to be renewed and we’re going to be out running around.”

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Evie is a producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.

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