Wednesday, 20 April 2016


Anne C here.

We love meeting other sensational baby boomers, and during the course of my work I recently met the most incredible woman who four years ago sold up her London flat to move north – and set up her own business- at the age of 81! Now 85, the vivacious Brenda Deane is pouring her heart and soul into the venture.

To say she has transformed her life in the past two years would be a complete understatement.  After a 50 year career as an staid accountant, in Brenda’s own words: “I wore dowdy skirts and I was frumpy;” she has completely reinvented herself.

As a volunteer at St Paul’s Cathedral she met another like-minded volunteer, Graham Way, who has since become her business partner.  With a shared interest in interior design, together they transformed Brenda’s home and subsequently earned commissions from Brenda’s neighbours living in The Barbican, igniting a passion for home interiors. 

Graham already had many years experience in the perfumery industry, having worked in, among other companies, Penhaligon’s London, so it wasn’t a step too far to set up in business together when they created “A Life with a View” selling beautifully crafted candles with amazing fragrances designed by master perfumers using notes of chamomile, lily, lilac, almond, orange precious woods and spiced notes.  The company has further fragrances, including a rose and a lily, due to be introduced as the business is expanded.


Each of the fragrances are matched to a different view of the world – The Loft inspired by trendy New York living, The Cottage, inspired by the English countryside, The Gite inspired by the flowers of Provence and The Villa inspired by the exotic scents of Italy. Each conjures up the perfect view, the perfect idea, ‘A View of …’ whatever you desire.


Each of these heavenly fragrances was created by an expert “nose” – a world-renowned professional perfumer who can distinguish each fragrance top note, middle note and base note in an instant. Brenda tells me there are fewer “noses” in the world than there are astronauts – so exclusive is the world of fine fragrance!


But Graham’s friendship and knowledge extends much further than that! For years her own favourite fragrance was L`Interdit  meaning “Forbidden” – which Givenchy originally created exclusively for Audrey Hepburn - until Graham tactfully told her it didn't suit her because skin changes as one gets older, so she needed to change her choice of perfume.

Now Brenda’s own knowledge of perfumes is increasing, she is able to make her own choices on fragrance.  “I’ve also learned that of the 1200 or so fragrances launched every year, only about 5% or so have any kind of longevity and chance of survival.”

She has also transformed – with Graham’s help – her appearance.  “I had a full head of bushy hair, which I have now cut shorter and professionally styled; I have ditched the frumpy clothes in favour of a more tailored look with trousers and fitted shirts, which is much more appropriate for the business.”

Her crisp white shirt is from T. M. Lewin, complete with cuff links bought in Venice some years ago, trousers and belt from Marks & Spencer, necklace is Accessorize and earrings also from Venice.

The next step for Brenda is to re-design the packaging and appearance of her brand; she is also looking for a third partner with experience in the high end luxury market to inject extra cash and fresh ideas into the business.

Meanwhile this 85 year old is full of energy, with a new lease of life, and has made a whole new set of friends in Manchester, joining in the private members club in the Media City community where she now lives, and has joined a number of women’s  business networking organisation who have also offered business advice as well as friendship.

She still has friends in London, and she travels back regularly to catch up with them and to have her hair done. “I’m so lucky that I now have a wide circle of friends.  I would never have thought that I would uproot myself to the other end of the country – but it’s the best thing I ever did!”


  1. What an amazing story! Brenda is so inspirational - I think it's fantastic that she's reinvented herself at the age of 81! Thanks so much for sharing this :)

  2. You're very welcome Julia - she's a lovely lady and we are now in regular contact, so I hope she manages to attract another business partner and we will still be writing about her when she's 100!


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