By Marcie Everhart and Kay Byrd
Kay Byrd has used middle age as motivation, moving the speedometer needle of her own life, to go where she’s always wanted to go. At age 49, she graduated from college with a fashion marketing degree and at age 50, launched a second career, her own fashion consulting business, My Fashion Expert.
Her resume is amazing – styling news personalities in the Oklahoma City market, hosting and producing award-winning television programs, making on-air appearances as a fashion/style expert, instructing seminars and workshops, one-to-one coaching, personal shopping, owning a clothing store in Fort Worth, modeling on the Home Shopping Network, and writing and speaking on fashion matters in the media and in the community. Her career has spanned the country with fashion-oriented stints in Florida, Oklahoma, Texas, and Colorado. She has also received many individual awards as Ms. Colorado and Mrs. Colorado as well as the WAVE award in 2009 for Best Producer in the Lifestyle Category from the Alliance For Community Media.
But NONE of this is why I asked Kay to be a guest spotlight contributor on the Forever 51 blog for January. I asked Kay because she’s one of the most inspirational over-fifty ladies, in her own personal life, that I’ve seen. I hoped to share with our readers her sheer gutsiness to go get what she wants. She’s fearless when it comes to making changes and creating the life she wants to be living. She accepted a new job opportunity and now lives, works, and plays on the South Rim of the glorious Grand Canyon.
Marcie: Ohmigosh, who just up and moves to go live inside majestic natural tourist attractions, Kay! Please tell us more about how this new life adventure came about.
Kay: After graduation my priority was to relocate closer to my son and daughter, and that was Arizona. So, I sat down in front of the computer, poured a glass of wine, or two, and conducted a job search using my newly acquired highest level of education: a Bachelor of Science. It was exciting to see career opportunities populate that were once considered unobtainable. I wanted do something fabulous, something exciting and different that offered adventure and new discoveries in a unique work-life balance situation, and well… here I am at Grand Canyon!
Marcie: I understand you are the Merchandise Coordinator for the Xanterra gift shops, which include Bright Angel, Lookout Studio, Hermits Rest, Maswik, Hopi House and El Tovar. What sort of interesting things do you find yourself doing in this job?
Kay: What excites me is looking for ways to engage our shoppers and create exciting shopping experiences at Grand Canyon. Each day is different. One day I may be creating interpretive signage which explains the historical significance of our location then the next day I’m conducting an Internet search to buy the perfect display piece for a new product.
Above left is a 1920s-era picture of the original four “Indian Detour Guides” hired by the legendary Fred Harvey Company to provide guided tours to travelers. Known as the Harvey Couriers, the women dressed “Navajo-style” in velvet clothing, concha belts and squash blossom necklaces. Kay researches this aspect of Grand Canyon history, then searches for quality replications to create an educational display.
Above, the finished display in the Bright Angel History Room of the Bright Angel Lodge, Grand Canyon, Arizona.
Marcie: I am so intimidated by the crazy things I see you doing on your Facebook page, like learning to ride a motorcycle and learning to fly an airplane. Are you a grandmother? Where’s your rocking chair!? Tell me about these challenges you are setting before yourself.
Kay: Life isn’t always confetti cupcakes and purple unicorns; unfortunately I was experiencing workplace bullying. And, though the situation was addressed with the proper departments and people, I was powerless to change certain aspects of the circumstances so I redirected my energy and focus to something which provided an opportunity to experience mastery and success. So now I ride and I have that person and situation to thank.
The world is filled with hurting people. We experience them in our families, workplaces and/or communities, often unexpectedly. My hope is that the reader will see that I’m not living a charmed, happy-go-lucky, hippie life so much as I have used difficult situations and unanticipated opportunities as leverage to improve myself and find my joy, especially in times of adversity or oppression.
Another situation occurred which prompted my flying lesson. Someone insulted my intelligence, so I did what any self-respecting intelligent person would do. I sought out something extremely difficult that required a high level of aptitude, logic, understanding, planning and problem-solving to invalidate the insult, lol. I typically don’t get back or get even. I gleefully move on my merry way proving ’em wrong. They say the best revenge is success. Take it seriously! And, though, as of yet, I haven’t fully committed to getting my pilot’s license, it IS still a viable option as is obtaining a master’s degree. I haven’t decided, but tipping the scale in either direction is only one insult away. In any case, it’s win-win for me.
Marcie: Are you still available for clients who want your private fashion services?
Kay: Yes, I’m available for private shopping services. I love one-on-one concierge style interactions where the client is the sole focus. My dream client is someone in the public eye who either doesn’t have the time or lacks the desire to create and maintain a wardrobe and she hands the reins over to me. Though, having said that, my consulting career is segueing into third-party retail marketing for clients within the merchandising industry. I’d be delighted either way.
Marcie: Where do you see yourself in five years? In ten years?
Kay: In the next five years, I will be still making a positive impact, standing for what’s right, and making a difference whether it’s in a person’s life or for a corporation’s bottom line. I love slaying dragons, standing up to injustices, and summitting mountain tops. It’s the way I roll, so as long as I’m going on adventures and doing a variation of all of the above, I’m happy happy happy.
Marcie: Kay, do you have a message for other over-fifty ladies?
Kay: Wow….the QUESTION….um…focus on the important stuff…less on Botox and more on your roadblocks. Less on wrinkles and more on what twinkles. Less on fat and more on making an impact. Less on hardships and more on discarding this, or in my case lots of road trips! Less on drama and dogma and more on vodka…ok..lol…no…but what makes you and life calm’a!
I see women in their fifties primarily in one of two camps. Camp One: those overly focused on their outer appearance and Camp Two: those who neglect or disregard their physical appearance. Neither is a balanced approach. Focus on internal beauty and soul growth while doing your best to maintain a semblance of outer beauty through diet and exercise. You will find that the one will enhance the other.
A Little Background Music
Another big dose of happy inspiration. Dallas high school teacher Scot Pankey and his students have a little fun with Andy Grammer’s “Good To Be Alive.”
*Photos provided by Kay Byrd, and you too can follow her adventures on her Facebook page at My Fashion Expert.