A California great-grandmother is proving that age is just a number as she becomes the newest model for a makeup brand.
Helene Simon tells PEOPLE she had her doubts when her granddaughter, Laney Crowell, asked her to be the new face of her beauty line, Saie, shortly after her 99th birthday.
"I'd seen all the beautiful models, and I was no competition for that," says Simon, who is better known as Nanna to her six kids, 11 grandkids and six great-grandkids.
But Crowell — who had proposed the idea after a suggestion from one of her Instagram followers — remained persistent in her efforts.
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"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."
Courtesy Laney Crowell Laney Crowell and her Nanna, Helene Simon
"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," Crowell jokingly adds. "I think that was the tipping point."
With the group's encouragement, Simon is starring in Saie's Keep Glowing shoot. Now she is believed to be one of the eldest makeup models in the world.
"It's been a big surprise and it's been a lot of fun," says Simon. "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," adds Simon. "I've enjoyed it — every bit of it."
Though she's been soaking up the experience, Simon, who lives in San Rafael, California, says being a makeup model was never something she imagined.
"It never occurred to me. I liked looking good, but in my early days, I didn't use much makeup," she says. "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."
"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," says 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."
While there have been many exciting moments along her model journey, Simon says her favorite part has been "the newness of it all" and, of course, getting glam for the photoshoots.
"That was unbelievable. I could do that every day," she says. "I would also say the response from my six children has been something. This is a mom that they didn't realize they had."
As for Crowell, her favorite part has been the lasting memories that she has created with the beloved matriarch of her family, who has since become a fan favorite on Saie's Instagram.
"It's been so fun just getting to talk all the time and laugh," says Crowell. "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."
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"I got a message yesterday from someone saying they bought Sale for the first time because of Nanna's photos," she adds. "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."
So what's Simon's secret to looking good at 99?
"I try not to worry too much, especially about the small things," she says. "Just accept it and go on."