Of the two entrepreneurs, Zelda Curti admits to having more of a potty mouth than her partner, Susan Griak. But it was Griak who blurted out the decidedly profane name of their new, high-end face serum, F*ck Fifty.
"Once I designed it on the label, I asked Zelda, 'Is it too much?' " says Griak, whose background is in advertising. "And I said, 'No! I love it,' " Curti says. "It captured what we wanted on so many levels."
What they want is for women to feel good about themselves no matter their age, and to have a simple, one-product solution for taking care of their skin.
"We wanted to stop people from obsessing," Griak says.
"Or from saying, 'Oh, I look so old,' " Curti says.
"It's not about your face but your energy," Griak says. "We want women to radiate that."
It started with Curti looking for products for her own 50-something face, discovering marula oil, then researching other essential oils that protect, plump, nourish and soothe. She combined ingredients, adjusting and tweaking over the course of a year. She tested the product on herself, then on Griak. When friends and family tried it and liked it, they knew they were on to something.
It wasn't the first time they had started a business together. Back in 2016, they were making organic almond milk that they sold at farmers markets. A beauty product seemed more manageable, and theirs addressed a societal problem with ageism that as older moms they felt personally. "We both had our last children when we were 47," Curti says. "Instead of like normal people, who have children in their 30s," Griak adds.
The pair, both from Minneapolis, met walking around Lake of the Isles with their matching dogs and newborns. "Zelda came running up behind me, and I heard, 'Hey, lady with a baby!' " Griak recalls. "I basically stalked her," Curti says.
They became fast friends, talking often about how to stay healthy so they'd be there for their kids. They do yoga and eat a lot of vegetables. They try to be Earth-friendly, buy natural products and eschew most makeup because so much of it contains harsh chemicals. They take care of their families and of each other.
That penchant for nurturing and experimentation has resulted in small, brown bottles of F*ck Fifty, selling for $100 an ounce and containing an infusion of 27 ingredients.
They see a world where the pressure to look young is out of control, and that's what the pair mean by the name of their product. They want to change negative stereotypes about — and disbelief in — the power of older women. They really wish women could simply go with their age and look like they're meant to. Beautiful and free.
"F*ck Fifty!" says Curti. "Yeah!" says Griak.