Life is Sweet for this 60-Something Entrepreneur

When Carolyn Hartz of Perth, Australia started her business 14 years ago, she didn’t exactly fit the mold of an entrepreneur. She had no business experience. She had been out of the workforce for 25 years raising a family. She had no idea how to send an email or turn on a computer.

On top of everything else, she was 55 years old.

What she did have, however, was confidence, optimism, drive and a strong work ethic.  Ultimately, those personality traits and her passion trumped her initial lack of business know-how.

Today, Hartz is the exclusive Australian distributor of xylitol, a natural sweetener that tastes and looks like sugar. Her company is SweetLife, which offers baking mixes, jams, dental care items, a nasal sinus spray and other products made with xylitol.

As explained in this Sydney Morning Herald article, Hartz began educating herself on sugar-free eating after receiving a diagnosis of pre-diabetes. In 2000, she accompanied her husband to a conference in New York and met a woman who told her about xylitol.

After that chance meeting, Hartz contacted the U.S.-based company that sold xylitol and made a deal. She brought the first xylitol shipment to Australia in 2002. It sold out within three months. From there, SweetLife started growing and hasn’t looked back.

The journey hasn’t been easy, however. Hartz has had her challenges, including a huge learning curve.  She took a computer course and a three-year-online business course while running her business.

“I was often at my home desk from 7:00 am to 2:00 am at least five days a week and many weekends. I was truly out of my comfort zone, but had little time to think about it. Everything was challenging, but also exciting. I was on a mission,” says Hartz in this article.

Last October, Hartz released a book, Sugar Free Baking, in response to customer demand for recipes. Her main reason for starting the business wasn’t to make a lot of money. It was to help others who, like herself, forgo sugar but still want to enjoy the sweet things in life.

Now in her late 60s, Hartz sees her age as just a number.

“It is true that you reach a point in life – usually in your 40s – when there are two ways you can go,” she says in the Herald article.  “You can go one way, or you can choose to own your own life, be positive and choose that path.”

About Lynne Strang

I'm a freelance writer who helps organizations and individuals meet their marketing and communications goals. I am also the author of "Late-Blooming Entrepreneurs: Eight Principles for Starting a Business After Age 40." To learn more, please visit my website:
This entry was posted in Business, Career Changes, Careers, entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Retirement, Success and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Life is Sweet for this 60-Something Entrepreneur

  1. TheHoneyBee says:


  2. VERY inspiring! Great post!!

  3. Anne Gordon says:

    Thank you for sharing. You give encouragement to all of us who have wonderful ideas to try, and don’t want to retire.

    • Lynne Strang says:

      The notion that people “should” retire at a certain age is obsolete, in my opinion. At age 55 or 60, you could have another third of your life ahead. That’s a lot of time to start a business or some other second act. Good luck exploring those wonderful ideas!

  4. spotmagicsolis says:

    First company at 35, IPO at 39. Rolled it all into the next start-up but couldn’t find any traction for 22 years. It’s finally going now and doing well! I’ll be 60 this year.

    • Lynne Strang says:

      Another example of the power of persistence!. Sounds like you had a good business idea from the beginning — but the wisdom, experience and perspective gained during 22 years may have made the difference. Thanks for commenting.

  5. Great stuff Lynne, Wow! Truly no time like the present to pursue opportunity, even if it comes dressed in a doctor’s diagnosis i.e. diabetes. There’s opportunity everywhere.

    • Lynne Strang says:

      I agree. Your comment reminded me of this Thomas Edison quote: “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Thank you for reading.

  6. amniismail says:

    😍💡very inspiring!!

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