By Claire West
everywoman and NatWest are delighted to announce the winners of the 2010 NatWest everywoman Awards, recognising the phenomenal success of the UK’s most inspirational female business owners.
The eighth annual award ceremony celebrates successful entrepreneurs who are playing their part in helping to pull the UK out of recession and acting as inspirational role models for the next generation of aspiring business women.
Toni Moore, Managing Director of Adams Moore Solicitors Ltd, from Milton Keynes is the winner of The NatWest everywoman Award which recognises the most passionate and dedicated woman business owner who the judges feel has overcome significant challenges to achieve outstanding business success. Toni established her practice in 2004 with the aim to challenge society's perception of Legal Practice by developing a company reputation based on warmth, compassion and a team of staff whom instinctively put their clients first. At Adams Moore Solicitors she has ensured there is a strong emphasis on taking on the more challenging safety and emergency work. With this in mind, staff undergo training for risk assessments and soft skill training, offering a 24 hour emergency line, manned in several different languages, offering same day appointments and free counselling for clients and this is all provided at the practice’s own expense. By offering these supportive services for the most vulnerable in society, they have always endeavoured to differentiate themselves from their competitors by focusing holistically on soft people skills, not just hard legal training. Despite winning numerous business awards Toni takes greatest pride from the community based awards that have recognized the law firm’s contribution to society and for making their clients lives safer.
The other winners are as follows:
Nikki Hesford, Company Director of Miss Fit UK, from Lancaster is the winner of The Artemis Award for the most inspiring entrepreneur between the ages up to 25 sponsored by Crystal Clear. Nikki started Miss Fit UK three years ago after noticing a gap in the market for beautiful clothes and lingerie for petit women with small backs but big busts. Inspired by her past experience of the difficulty in finding work as a single mother, Nikki has put in place a company employment policy that seeks to "employ the unemployable" with priority going to single parents, ex-offenders, ex-homeless, disabled applicants and people on long term state benefits.
Emma Elston, Director of UK Container Maintenance Limited, from Cheshire is the winner of The Demeter Award for the most inspiring entrepreneur between the ages of 26 and 35. 13 years ago Emma set up UK Container Maintenance with her husband after having the idea of repairing damaged waste & recycling containers. They now refurbish 65,000 containers per annum for local authorities and waste companies throughout the UK, which in turn has saved them £23m in new bins over the past two years. The company also employs teams that are based around the country who visit local councils and waste companies to carry out emergency repairs, refurbishments and on site welding. Emma has expanded the business further with the new site in Essex opening in November 2010 and plans to develop the company’s online waste auction website ‘binbay.co.uk’.
Camilla Stephens, Product Director & Founder of Higgidy, from Shoreham By Sea is the winner of The Athena Award for the most inspiring entrepreneur between the ages of 36 and 49. After working for Justin de Blank and then Good Housekeeping magazine, Camilla developed the food range for Seattle Coffee Company - bought by Starbucks. She then started her pie company, Higgidy. Together with two partners, each putting in £50,000 for their start-up capital they were soon supplying pies to Eat. and Harvey Nichols. When Camilla met her husband, he joined the business in 2004, buying out the other two partners and after perseverance they now supply to Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Booths, Boots and Budgens. In addition to Higgidy, Camilla helped to re-open St. Peters church near Brighton, working with students, offering important marriage counselling and recovery courses and providing food for the homeless there.
Anita Lowe, Chief Executive of Venues Event Management, from Swindon is the winner of The Hera Award for the most inspiring entrepreneur aged 50 and over. Whilst working for Marriott, Anita successfully opened a new hotel in Swindon and won the Sales and Marketing Manager of the Year award for bringing in three million pounds of business. Anita decided she wanted a new challenge and after spotting a niche in the market, she set up her own events company, Venues Events Management. The client base includes AXA, BT, BP, BUPA, Morgan Stanley, Mercedes Benz, and The National Trust. Anita is involved with Leeds University, regularly speaking to students studying event management and in 1991 Anita became the first female President of the Chamber of Commerce in Swindon and as a result has won awards in her own right. Anita also helped to fundraise for the new Prospect Hospital, getting National Power on board.
Mary Tomes, Managing Director of Colourful Coffins, from Oxford is the winner of The Gaia Award which is given to the most inspirational and successful female entrepreneur who runs a business with a clearly defined social and/or ethical purpose at its heart. Mary set up ‘Colourful Coffins’, a business that offers coffins adorned with electronically printed designs from photos and pictures. Starting out with a catalogue of designs, they soon discovered that customers wanted their very own bespoke designs. Although there was a real market for her service, it was a real struggle to break through the market as people still had to purchase their coffins through the funeral director. To get around this hurdle, Mary created a strong marketing strategy: a visual website and search-engine optimization so that customers would go to the funeral directors and actually ask for her coffins in particular. Mary persevered and now has continual recommendations from funeral directors and a distributor in Ireland.
Helen Swanston, Textile Designer of Helkatdesign, from Devizes is the winner of The Hestia Award. Sponsored by Hunter Boots, this award is given to the most inspirational and successful female entrepreneur who runs a business in a remote rural location and makes a contribution to the local community. Helen started her textile design-business, Helkatdesign, with business partner Hollie in 2008 producing hand printed, sewn soft furnishings and canvases using natural materials and vintage style fabrics. In a bid to improve their online sales the pair decided to sign up to Etsy, a global site promoting bespoke hand-made and produced items and the tide turned. In less than a year Helkatdesign had transformed into a highly profitable business. Deciding to targeting the cushions to an overseas market meant that there is a constant demand from the US, Australia and Dubai, including enquiries from clothing companies and a well known yacht club, to produce their own cushion range.
Jo Malone MBE, Founder of Jo Malone and presenter of BBC One’s ‘High Street Dreams’, was honoured with the coveted everywoman Ambassador Award sponsored by Coutts & Co for inspiring future generations of entrepreneurs.
Karen Gill MBE, co-founder of everywoman, comments, “I am delighted with the caliber of winner this year. The NatWest everywoman Awards are growing from strength to strength each year. The standard and number of entries gets higher every year, resulting in an increasingly difficult judging process! This is a testament to the extraordinary contribution of female entrepreneurs to UK plc.”
Carolyn Currie, Head of Women in Business services at NatWest, “Congratulations to all the winners of the NatWest everywoman Awards. We continue to partner on the awards as we know from our customers the importance of highlighting female entrepreneur’s success stories to inspire more women to move on with their businesses and to encourage others to start-up in business. The support services we and everywoman both offer business women makes this a perfect partnership”