The Reinvention of an 80’s Supermodel

An Interview With Nancy Donahue

Nancy Donahue

If you grew up in the eighties, you’ll certainly remember the face of Nancy Donahue. Her memorable smoky 80’s look graced the cover of major iconic Fashion Magazines such as Vogue, Glamour and Marie Claire. Oftentimes paired with her closest Supermodel friends, Kim Alexis and Kelly Emberg, Nancy was part of an unforgettable trio and she hasn’t stopped reinventing herself. Now, a successful entrepreneur and a co-Inventor of Bellecore, Nancy shares the wisdom she has learned along the way showing you that true beauty can only be found within. She’s one of the kindest and most supportive women in the blogging world and a member of The Fierce 50 Revolution, a powerful group of women determined to shift the perception of women over 50. Nancy is a true force and an inspirational role model for young women. She learned many lessons as a top Supermodel and she lives to inspire those young women who dream of landing on the cover of a top Fashion Magazine. Nancy and I met in the virtual world of Instagram having left a random comment on my gallery. I reached out to Nancy for a more personal connection and was taken by her easy approachability and refreshing attitude. She’s forever a top 80’s Supermodel in the minds of the many women who grew up with her, yet she lives her life in a very new space as a successful female entrepreneur pushing 60. It’s hard to believe as her striking beauty remains, both inside and out. Welcome, Nancy!

CGO: You have completely reinvented yourself time and again. You’re now a successful entrepreneur involved in inventing the BelleCore bodybuffer. Tell us about the bodybuffer and how BelleCore company came about?

NCD: When I was a Fitness Director at a high end Country Club in Acton, MA, I had a client who had been given a quirky massage device for softening the scar tissues where she had just had liposuction. As I was competing in triathlons I borrowed it to massage my sore muscles, and as soon as I used it I had my ‘ah-ha’ moment. I noticed a huge difference in muscle recovery and my other business partner, noticed it made her legs softer and smoother. We were both in our early 50’s. We consulted with my friend, a top plastic surgeon, about how the device could be made more effective and redesigned for home use. We saw the device’s potential for the athletic, spa and wellness markets as well as the burgeoning beauty tool industry. We then partnered with four Doctors from Boston, MIT & Harvard trained engineers and after 3 years research and development we brought the BelleCore bodybuffer to market in 2010. We immediately received an exclusive with Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman for the US and Harrods of London for the UK. We then went on to Bloomingdales, Harvey Nichols and Selfridges London and Colette in Paris plus many high end spas and gyms here and in Europe . I use my bodybuffer every day pre and post workout to this day! Love it

CGO: Women over 50 are starting entrepreneurial businesses in record numbers. It’s not easy starting your own business. What has been the biggest change in you from stepping into the hat of a female entrepreneur?

NCD: As a single Mother, I had to figure out what to do when I moved back to Lowell, MA in the early 90’s since there weren’t a lot of modeling opportunities in Boston. So, the biggest step is to have the strength, courage and tenacity to allow yourself to make the move and start something new and become an Entrepreneur. You have to believe in you and charge forward. I don’t believe I have changed as I have always worked for myself in some ways. Make an action plan and execute! The difference now, is that I am older and with age comes wisdom.

Photo by Joseph Borgess

CGO: What have been your greatest challenges in running your own business and what has surprised you the most?

NCD: Thankfully, I have a couple of business partners that are wonderful and yes, we have had our challenges as does every business. I think, we were so “green” going into the manufacturing business, we made many mistakes but we have learned from those now. You have to fall down a few times, kiss some frogs and then you can move forward. The biggest surprise was how many people took advantage of us when we were first starting out. Shame on them. The fact was, we trusted people and we never thought we would be taken advantage of by others. We are wiser now.

CGO: Midlife can be quite a challenge with changes such as menopause and the skin changes that come along the way. Share with us the advantages of using the bodybuffer consistently?

NCD: Yes, Midlife has its ups and downs for sure. Menopause being one of them. My least favorite part of aging is the skin changing. The BelleCore bodybuffer helps with circulation, lymphatic drainage, muscle soreness, muscle recovery, edema, exfoliation and cellulite control. The exfoliation helps to get rid of the dry skin and we always suggest a hydrating cream after to keep your skin soft and smooth. It also helps to get rid of any extra fluids in the arms, legs and stomach. Our device does not help with “sagging” skin.

CGO: That’s so true of this age. One of my favorite reasons to use the Body buffer is for circulation and the lymphatic system. How does the Body buffer assist in helping our bodies to recover from workouts and aid in keeping our lymphatic system healthy?

NCD: The BelleCore bodybuffer technology uses random orbital oscillation and the speed of the device runs between 2500–3200 RPM’s. This handheld electrical device is perfect for pre-workout, to warm the muscles up and post-workout to relieve muscle soreness and facilitate lactic acid release. I first discovered the device when my current business partner passed it on to me use on my sore muscles when I was doing marathons and triathlons, amazing results!

It is really helpful to reduce edema and swelling in the lymph system which is 95% water. That being said, it is important to exercise, drink plenty of water and use the body buffer to properly drain the lymphatic areas.

CGO: You are passionate about health and wellness. How did your earlier days as a Supermodel with many late nights at Studio 54 influence your path into adopting a holistic and healthy lifestyle?

NCD: Yes, I am truly passionate about health and wellness and this all goes back to my Mother. My Mom taught us all at a very young age about healthy eating and exercise. She was an avid tennis player and swimmer. My Father was a great runner and skier. So, I learned at a very young age how important wellness was.

As for my modeling days, I was not the healthiest person. I had way too much fun at Studio 54 and other clubs. New York City in the 80’s was a crazy place but thanks to my family, I got it together and now I cannot live without exercise!

CGO: You’ve told me how your family has been a powerful cornerstone and influence on you. We have also talked many times about the power we experience internally at midlife. What have you learned at midlife that you would like to share with your younger self?

NCD: I would have to say, the trust factor. I trusted too many people back in my modeling days and got taken advantage of financially. I was so young and naive; I thought I had it all together. I wish I had realized that modeling was a “business” and not just something that came along. Christie Brinkley has done a very good job of branding herself and has done it from day one! Amazing woman. There are others too, such as Kathy Ireland and Cindy Crawford. These ladies did it right, each in their own brilliant way.

CGO: Those are some very valuable lessons. Christie, Kathy and Cindy are inspirational role models for women over 50. There are many young women out there today dreaming of being a Supermodel on a cover of major magazines. What advice would you like to share with these young women from your life experience?

NCD: I would highly suggest they go to college, get a real job! There will never, ever be another woman (who isn’t a celebrity) on a cover of any magazine. The days of “Supermodels” is over. When I went back to Culinary School at age 38, I loved it and wished that I had got my BA. School is a wonderful thing and important to move forward in life.

CGO: Once again, beautiful words of wisdom. If you could turn back time, would you?

NCD: That is a tough one. Yes, on one hand but, no on the other; I have had so many experiences, both good and bad. These experiences shape who you are today and you learn from each and every one of them. So, the answer is NO! :)

CGO: I love that! Live without regrets and looking forward. If you could go back to your younger self, the young girl who was discovered and launched a million covers, what pearls of wisdom would you share?

NCD: Stay out of trouble, work hard and focus. It is very difficult for a young person growing up these days and back in my day. When you are young, one tends to think, you know everything. As I said before, if I had this 59 year old brain when I was 21, I would be on top of the world.

Photo by Danny Sit

CGO: This new world of social media can be both wonderful and damaging at the same time. You know the quest for perfection that exists and the fact that most images now are highly edited. This tends to make us play the comparison game, judging ourselves. What have you learned about the importance of being real, vulnerable and authentic?

NCD: This is a great topic and a scary one at the same time. The striving to be perfect is way over the top due to social media. It is very damaging to everyone! I really believe this starts with the celebrities and it trickles down from there. I watch so many young people and people my age taking “selfies” and being so self absorbed. It is beyond ridiculous at this point. Yes, I do “selfies” with my family and friends but not on a daily basis. My other biggest concern is seeing people “plugged in” walking down the street, running and biking. What has happened to real life conversation? It is very sad. People are so used to texting to communicate, they can’t communicate anymore.

I was taught also at a young age that being real, vulnerable and authentic is the only way to be. My family had a lot to do with this. My Mom would always put me in my place if I ever came home from NYC (when i was modeling) thinking I was “all that” or “dope” (as they say now?). It all goes back to how you were brought up!

CGO: Such profound wisdom and powerful role modeling. Clearly, your Mom could see the dangers that come with buying into an outer identification alone. Nancy, you are one of the most down to earth souls in the blogging world. Thank you for sharing such inspirational words of wisdom.

Nancy Donahue is a Co Founder and Managing Partner at BelleCore. You can find out more about BelleCore on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Follow along with Nancy’s personal social on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

You can find Catherine Grace O’Connell at CatherineGraceO.com. She is on Facebook, and Instagram and Twitter as @catherinegraceo. Tune in to Cat & Kaehler: Fiercely Empowering Women of All Ages Through the Lens of Midlife with Catherine and co-host Kathy Kaehler live every Tuesday at 2 PM EST/11 AM PST or download as a podcast on LA TalkRadio. You can find out more about The Fierce 50 Campaign and how you can help us and join the Revolution by sending an email to info@catherinegraceo.com.

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