The South Island Rural Women’s Enterprising Rural Women Award winner is Tracey Robinson of Cosy Toes Limited and the North Island award went to Tineke Verkade of Homeopathic Farm Support Limited.
Cosey Toes, based in Rotherham, North Canterbury, is an online and mail order retail business, specialising in 100 % New Zealand made merino wool socks, merino clothing and other New Zealand wool products for babies and children.
Homeopathic Farm Support, in Waikato, supplies high quality homeopathic products and information support to farmers and rural livestock holders throughout New Zealand and overseas.
Both are contenders for the supreme award which will be announced at Rural Women’s national conference in Oamaru in May.
The Awards were judged by Margaret Chapman, Rural Women New Zealand’s national president, Theresa Gattung of Wool Partners International and Doug Langford, past chairman of Access Limited.
The judges were impressed by the innovation and adaptability of all the entrants in this year’s Enterprising Rural Women Award, many of whom have had to overcome extra obstacles to run a business from a rural location.
Tineke Verkade started her business following a career in nursing, a background in science and an interest in complimentary medicine. She studied naturopathy and medical herbalism as well as homeopathy and has been in private practice since 1991. Her aim is to provide easily available, affordable and effective complimentary animal health remedies.
Margaret Chapman says “Tineke Verkade has built up an impressive business from early days of skepticism and little belief in alternative methods of healing from the farming community.”
Nowadays more than a quarter of Fonterra dairy farmers and many sheep and beef producers use homeopathy.
South Island winner Tracey Robinson set up her Cosy Toes business after experiencing frustration that wool socks were not available for her two pre-schoolers. Researching the market, she discovered that inexpensive imports of synthetic socks had led to New Zealand businesses closing down and selling their machines.
She decided to reverse that trend, setting up a business in a rural township with a population of just 300, using the internet to supply a niche, high quality product using innovative marketing, including social networking sites.
Judge Doug Langford says Tracey Robinson is resourceful, passionate and determined to succeed in the face of obstacles. Theresa Gattung adds “Cosy Toes is courageous in its inception and spot on in its execution. Cosy Toes is a great example of new ways to reinvent the existing.”
Cosy Toes products are now posted all over the world, and Tracey has gone on to support those less fortunate, including organising the Cosy Toes Sock Drive for orphans in Uganda.
The awards are a wonderful initiative by Rural Women to celebrate rural women in business and their achievements.
The South Island Award is sponsored by Ballance Agri-Nutrients and the North Island prize by Access.