Entrepreneur and modelling industry icon Maye Musk is a symbol of determination. In her latest book, A Woman Makes a Plan, Musk shares the less glamorous details of her journey. Behind the Women’s Day and Vogue covers, Musk quietly overcame several obstacles in her path, such as single motherhood, rotten relationships and the struggle to balance her careers as both a model and a dietician.
At age seventy-two, Musk is as elegant a woman as ever. Now notable for her iconic silver locks, she simply refuses to be held back; today, as Musk travels the globe to mentor those in pursuit of success in the business world, her influence sees no end.
Musk cites her book, A Woman Makes a Plan, as “advice for a lifetime of adventure, beauty, and success.” Between its pages lies Musk’s hard-earned wisdom, sharing her extensive knowledge on living a healthy life, navigating the modelling industry and battling adversity. Maye’s journey is inspiring for all — she is a symbol that it is never too late to build the career of your dreams, and that obstacles only exist if you allow them to. Her mantra: you can’t control all that happens in life, but you can have the life you want at any age. All you have to do is make a plan.
Maye sat down with Schön to discuss everything from her book to her business, health and wellness.
Writing a book involves a lot of self-reflection. What did you learn about yourself through the process of writing A Woman Makes a Plan?
What I learned about myself is that I should’ve shared my horrible experiences with my family and friends. They would’ve helped me get through these terrible and sad days. Women are too scared and embarrassed to share, but they shouldn’t be.
The book opens with reflections on modelling. In your career, you made the decision to embrace your silver locks, which unexpectedly led to further success despite ageism in the fashion industry. In your opinion, what does this say about the modelling industry of today, especially when compared to the modelling industry of previous generations?
The modelling industry has changed because of social media. As an older model, I worked regularly, but not as a supermodel. People are now loving older models. Who knew? However, I regularly have my hair cut to keep my silver locks trendy and stylish. That’s important.
You began your entrepreneurial career as a dietician at age 21. In those initial years, what was it like to balance a thriving modelling career and a successful business? What tips did you learn the fastest?
My main career was as a dietitian. I didn’t tell my clients or the doctors that I modelled. I kept it completely separate. My nutrition counseling, speaking and consulting covered my basic costs and were my priority. Modelling had to be booked three weeks in advance so I wouldn’t have to move my clients. You learn to schedule well, and be on time. I also had to learn not to say yes to everything, because then you will burn out.
As detailed later in your book, you’ve faced a fair amount of personal adversity in your life. How do you think your resilience in the face of that adversity has seeped into your professional career?
I stayed in unhappy personal relationships too long, thinking I could change other people but I couldn’t. In my nutrition business, I continuously promoted my services. I had to succeed. I put up with many rejections before I got a nutrition client or a speaking job. Regarding modelling, I signed with agencies who had no interest in promoting me. Now I am with CAA and it is absolutely wonderful. Even now, I don’t stop. And that is why you are interviewing me.
Today, you travel the world speaking about your entrepreneurial experience. What pushed you to lend your extensive knowledge to budding business owners around the world?
My father was a chiropractor and entrepreneur. I learned a lot from him. I worked for him from the age of eight as I sent out monthly bulletins to all his patients. He never stopped, as he had to feed five children. As a dietitian, I had no option, except to have a practice in my home, as my children were small. Later on, I would be asked to consult for the food industry, doing research work which paid well. After that, I was invited to give paid talks as I was successful in the wellness industry, and there weren’t many other entrepreneurs. I had to get paid as I would lose my income from not seeing clients in my practice. I continued to persist through multiple rejections and let my audiences know it’s not luck. As you’ve read in my book, “the harder you work, the luckier you get.”
In the age of social media, how do you think people of all ages should utilise platforms like Instagram and Twitter in the business world?
Instagram and Twitter are great to get a message out that you have a talent. It takes a lot of time and effort. You can’t post trivia when you are trying to build up your business. Focus on what you are good at, and let people know. Add a sense of humour so they will smile and follow you.
With all of the resources people have today, do you think it’s easier to start and bring attention to a business now than it was 20 years ago? Why or why not?
It is much easier to start a business now, because of social media. This is free advertising. In the past, I would mail letters and brochures and call doctors to ask them to send me their patients. For speaking engagements, I would send brochures, VHS and CDs to associations and corporations. I would also send letters and my television reel to the media so they would interview me.
Moving on to some health questions, the last year has been treacherous health-wise. What do you think people forget about most when trying to stay healthy in lockdown?
When you are scared, sad and alone, food brings you joy. I certainly turned to food for comfort: hamburgers, fries, cookies, ice cream and chocolate. During the lockdown my weight went up 2 kg and it was hard to lose it. When I got COVID-19, I lost those 2 kg, and now stay on a very regimented diet of healthy food. We have to focus on choosing nutritious foods that we enjoy and being active. I walk my dog, stretch, exercise in front of the television and do weights.
What’s your latest health discovery — e.g. new health food, exercise, skincare product, etc.?
My staple health food is bean stew. I soak dried beans overnight, cook for 90 minutes, add some kind of starch like pasta, rice or potato, and plenty of vegetables. It’s delicious and I love it. Economical and nutritious. For my skin care, I am a CoverGirl, and they have sent me the latest eye serum and skin cream that really works well for me.
You’ve had several new beginnings in cities across the globe. What advice would you give to young adults who are approaching a new beginning in their lives, whether it be moving across the world or getting a degree?
I never stop studying and educating myself to be knowledgeable on many topics. Fortunately, the Internet helps a lot, especially when you are learning languages. I have a new beginning next month when I move to New York. That’s where the work is, and it’s closer to Europe. However, I will be very active on social media so that I remain relevant. Young adults who are moving have to get out and meet colleagues and make friends after this pandemic. They need to share their education and talents so they are interesting. Networking is the best way to start over.
Returning to your book, what is the main message that you hope readers will take away from the book?
I am hoping that people will make a plan to live a happier life, and if it doesn’t work out, make another plan. Do not stay in a rut that makes you sad. Learn from my mistakes that I describe in my book, A Woman Makes A Plan.
What are you looking forward to right now?
I am really excited about my book going international. It’s already in fifty countries. Hopefully the borders will open up and I can go on book tours. I have been invited by many countries and I am looking forward to visiting all of them.
A Woman Makes a Plan: Advice for a Lifetime of Adventure, Beauty, and Success is in stores now.
photography. Alexo Wandael
fashion. Stephanie Tricola
talent. Maye Musk
hair. Jon Lieckfelt
make up. Gregory Arlt
editor. Daniela Ovi
composer. Ivan Iusco
talent pa. Anna Sherman
fashion assistant. Natasha Bock
assistant on set. Giulia Lupetti
agency. CAA Fashion
location. LA Puglia
words. David Averbach