Linda Gomez started experimenting with naturally enhancing her lips at the age of 50. She noticed that as she aged, her lips were getting thinner. She didn't want surgery or injections and she realized that when someone kisses you and sucks on your lips, your lips become fuller. Her quest for full lips started her experimenting with getting a sexier pout from suction. "My husband caught me a few times trying out different objects that I sucked on to try to get my lips plumper," said Gomez. What could have been an embarrassing situation created a new business for her. "I thought other women might need this too," Gomez said. "I tried things that were different shapes and sizes until I had a prototype." Indeed there's a lot of talk about sucking and plumping at Gomez' home office.
Now at age 60, Linda joins the ranks of other encore entrepreneurs who have started businesses after the age of 50. Statistics show that baby boomers like Gomez now have the market share of startup businesses in the United States. Combine that with Generation X-ers and people over the age of 40 dominate start-up businesses in the U.S.
Gomez first launched her business in SkyMall catalog. The catalog's account representative, who was male, just didn't get it. He couldn't understand why women would want to make their lips bigger but when he took the product back to his office, the women there loved it. "It's a fun product," said Gomez. Soon Cosmopolitan magazine discovered the product and made a tutorial video on how to properly use it. "It went viral," said Gomez. "It went good crazy and then bad crazy. In one day we went from two sales to 100 sales."
Watch the SpeakUp World interview with Janice Celeste, Fullips Founder, Linda Gomez and her daughter, Ashley Gomez (Blab.im).
As a small business, Gomez works from home and employs her adult children, close friends and other close family members. Everything was great with Fullips until counterfeiters in Asia found her little invention. "Chinese counterfeiters got a hold of it and we couldn't even find our own product online. There were thousands of them," said Gomez. "They basically shut us down." Chinese counterfeiters duplicated her product almost exactly except they often use toxic and cheap unregulated materials, which allow them the affordability to sell the product cheaper. "We had some of these things tested and they came back positive for arsenic, for barium, for lead," said Gomez. Fullips products are made with FDA approved food grade and safe materials. In addition, the counterfeiters printed Gomez' customer service number on their counterfeit packaging. Whenever someone has a problem with the fake version of the product, Gomez gets all of the phone calls. Gomez said that she can tell exactly when the counterfeiters produce a new batch of her products because her phone rings non-stop.
Then came the "Kylie Jenner Challenge." "Kylie Jenner said she's not using lip injections so what happens? The media, because they love anything Kardashian, starts trying to figure out what might she be using," Gomez said. Suddenly, photos of girls with grotesquely huge lips appeared on social media and on the news. "They weren't using our product. They were sucking on champagne glasses, and shot glasses," said Gomez. "With ours you use it for 15 to 30 seconds of gentle suction. Some of those girls sucked on thin glass for an hour until the glass broke!"
Although Gomez has to deal with these daily ups and downs of operating her company, she said she wouldn't change a thing about her business. "I learn something new every day and at 60, that's really exciting," said Gomez. She gives the following advice to other encore entrepreneurs, "The smartest thing an older business person can do is to surround yourself with a young team. This company would not exist if it was just me," said Gomez. "The online marketing and social media is my younger team who has taken this company to where it is today."
To find out more about Fullips go to Fullips.com.