The nonagenarian is now considered to be one of the oldest models in the world!
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on August 6, 2021. It has since been updated.
You'd think life is about to end, with no windows of opportunity as you grow older, but for a 99-year old great-grandmother named Helene Simon, life's just begun! The San Rafael, California, resident — better known as Nanna to her six kids, 11 grandkids, and six great-grandkids — recently became the newest model for her granddaughter Laney Crowell's beauty line, Saie.
With her graceful features and adorable smile, it didn't take long for Simon to become an absolute hit!
In an interview with PEOPLE about being the face of the brand, the nonagenarian said she had her doubts about being a model when Crowell approached her with the idea shortly after her 99th birthday.
"I'd seen all the beautiful models, and I was no competition for that," she said. But Crowell—who went to her grandma with the idea after receiving a suggestion from one of her followers—wasn't willing to give up on her Nanna that easy.
"I actually was very strategic about it," says the founder of the clean beauty brand. "I enlisted my dad, my aunts, my cousins, my cousin's significant others, my husband, I think I even had my daughters — Nanna's great-grandchildren — try to convince her."
But you know what they say about being persistent. Eventually, Nana couldn't help but cave, but there might have been other factors that got her to agree. "It took a few weeks. I think the turning point was when I found a photographer who had photographed Nanna's favorite basketball player, Steph Curry. I think that was the tipping point."
With her family encouraging her, Simon agreed to star in Saie's Keep Glowing shoot.
She is now believed to be one of the oldest makeup models in the world. "It's been a big surprise and it's been a lot of fun," the newbie model said.
"I was delighted. The shoot was particularly fun. I had lots of my family around and they had all kinds of suggestions and laughs. It was just really a good time. It has been a fun experience and put a little pizzazz in my life. I've enjoyed it — every bit of it."
She added that although she's been really enjoying the whole experience, never in her wildest dreams did she imagine she'd be a model at 99.
"It never occurred to me. I liked looking good, but in my early days, I didn't use much makeup," she said. "Now I use as little as possible, but Saie — their makeup just goes on so easily and looks so natural that it's fun to use. I guess I'm thinking more about it now than I have other times in my life."
She now swears by the Slip Tint moisturizer, Mascara 101, Dew Blush in Poppy, and Liquid Lip Balm, all from Saie.
"As an entrepreneur who is running my own business, having my grandmother use my products is maybe one of my favorite parts. It's so cool," said Crowell. "When I went home for Nanna's birthday and I saw them on her night table, I had to take a picture of it because it was such a moment for me of knowing that my grandma was using the products that we make and work so hard on."
Although she's experiencing something different ever since she dipped her feet into modeling, Simon revealed that her favorite part has been "the newness of it all" and getting dolled up for the photoshoots.
"That was unbelievable. I could do that every day," she said. "I would also say the response from my six children has been something. This is a mom that they didn't realize they had."
Meanwhile, Crowell cherishes the lasting memories that she has created with her grandmother. "It's been so fun just getting to talk all the time and laugh," she said.
"Seeing her face on her Instagram was really cool, and then I can't even tell you how many messages we got about Nanna's images and this whole campaign being a breath of fresh air. I got a message yesterday from someone saying they bought Saie for the first time because of Nanna's photos. Someone the other day was saying it's just so refreshing to see someone who looks so beautiful and comfortable and isn't doing anything other than just being themselves."
But, how does Simon manage to look so stellar, despite her age? Her secret's simple. "I try not to worry too much, especially about the small things," she says. "Just accept it and go on."
Cover Image Source: Instagram | (L) @saiebeauty (R) @laney