When it comes to aging in style, Jean Ketcham and Suzanne Bates are happy to share their secret: It’s all about attitude.
And the co-founders of Aging but Dangerous, a Minneapolis-based organization dedicated to inspiring, empowering, and challenging women over the age of 50, have attitude in spades. “Our generation is one of fighters,” says Bates. “We were the ones who had to burn our bras and go to Woodstock.”
These days, the ladies of Aging but Dangerous still have a flair for the dramatic. They’re in the midst of planning the final details for the fifth annual Martini Jump Skydive, where women up to age 84 will throw themselves out of an airplane at 13,000 feet before knocking back a martini or two. In September, a group will take off for Utah on a white water rafting trip.
“Women were traumatized about turning 50,” says Ketcham. “Now they’ve gotten more comfortable and more secure in themselves.”
Friends for more than 35 years, Ketcham and Bates launched the Aging but Dangerous blog in 2009 to establish the presence of an over-60 age group in the marketplace. “We wanted brands and products to see us as a viable force,” says Bates. The ladies were ahead of their time—a 2012 Nielsen report revealed that baby boomers are the most valuable generation for marketers, and brands have been catering to them ever since, revealing the potential for change that Ketcham and Bates see in their organization.
The group has expanded aggressively, now boasting followers in seven countries and nearly every state. Ketcham and Bates hold “swarms” each month for members and host a radio show on KLDB (1220 AM) Saturday mornings. Bates is in the process of editing an essay collection to be released in early 2015 entitled Don’t Pee on my Sofa: Tales of Aging but Dangerous Women, and the two are looking to expand their national presence.
“We’re not just a couple of privileged ladies lunching,” says Bates. “We’ve both had careers; we’ve made big sacrifices. Helping and inspiring other women, that’s our legacy.”