By Tracey Porpora Staten Island Advance, N.Y.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) A new report, titled "Starting Later: Realizing the Promise of Older Entrepreneurs in New York City," reveals that Staten Islanders over the age of 50 are starting businesses in record numbers, changing the face of entrepreneurship across the borough.
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y.
After a car accident caused temporary voice loss, speech pathologist Denise Cesare decided to reinvent herself.
The Bay Terrace resident launched a swimsuit business at the age of 54.
"It started after I created a makeshift swimsuit out of my own clothing. ... I came up with T Suit because they're bathing suits that fit people to a T," she said of her online business.
Before she knew it, Cesare had a designer/manufacturer and was in business for herself.
"Today, I feel empowered to be able to run my own business. ... I have gone through my share of trials and tribulations in my life that makes owning this business extra empowering. I wanted to show my son that women are powerful," she added.
She is one of 10,324 Staten Islanders age 50 and older -- or nearly one in eight working adults 50-plus in the borough -- who own their own business, according to a new report published by the Center for an Urban Future.
The report, titled "Starting Later: Realizing the Promise of Older Entrepreneurs in New York City," reveals that Staten Islanders over the age of 50 are starting businesses in record numbers, changing the face of entrepreneurship across the borough.
The study, which was funded by Capital One's Future Edge Initiative, shows that the number of self-employed Staten Island residents 50 and over increased by 31 percent over the past decade -- the second-fastest growth rate of any borough. The report also shows the number of business owners age 60 and over increased by 35 percent.
Over the past decade, Staten Island has seen an uptick in the number of older adults turning to entrepreneurship. The number of self-employed Staten Islanders ages 55 to 65 has increased 66 percent since 2005, far outpacing any other borough in the city.
MID-ISLAND LEADS SELF-EMPLOYMENT The growth of self-employment among Staten Island's older adults has been led by the Mid-Island section of the borough. The population of self-employed Mid-Island residents ages 55 to 65 has increased 188 percent since 2005 -- the fifth-fastest growth rate of any area in the city.
"The center finds that Staten Island has some of the best opportunities citywide to harness this growing trend, as growth of the borough's older adults population outpaces the rest of the city," says Jonathan Bowles of the Center for an Urban Future.
Between 2005 and 2016, Staten Island's 50-plus population increased by 29 percent, a larger increase than any other borough except the Bronx. The over-50 population increased by 14 percent in Brooklyn, 18 percent in Manhattan, 20 percent in Queens and 34 percent in the Bronx. Citywide, the 50-plus population increased by 20 percent.
MORE ISLANDERS OPEN THEIR OWN BUSINESSES Like Cesare, Natale Giusta realized his dream of owning his own business after the age of 50. Having been in the construction business for many years, Giusta made the dream of owning his own restaurant a reality at the age of 57.
"Many, many years ago, my father had a restaurant with his brother in my country. It was always my dream to open a restaurant," he said.
"But it [the desire to open a restaurant] stayed with me. I kept saying 'one day, one day,'" recalled Giusta. Via Margherita, which offers a Calabrese style of cooking, is located in Rosebank. The restaurant names pay homage to his Italian hometown Amantea's main thoroughfare.
ON THE FOREFRONT Maryann Piazza co-launched Majestic Vending and Services Inc. in 1994. Not 56, the pioneer in the self-employed sector said it was the best decision she ever made.
"We started as a home-based business, and went from that to getting a warehouse in 1999 in Tompkinsville," said Piazza, who is president of the company.
"When I started the business, I had four kids under the age of 5 and every one of them had a medical or academic need. ... I wasn't able to get a job at that time, because it wasn't available because of my children and their needs," she added.
She said she feels she has "paved the way" for people work from home today.