16 finalists in Enterprising Rural Women awards

Sixteen finalists have been selected for Rural Women NZ’s  Enterprising Rural Women Awards:

The judges now face the challenging task of choosing the North and South Island and Online Business category finalists.  These three category winners will go on to compete for the title of Supreme winner, Enterprising Rural Women Award 2012.

 “This is the fourth year we’ve run the Enterprising Rural Women Award, and it’s encouraging to see the diversity of businesses being run by women in rural areas,” says RWNZ National President, Liz Evans. 

“Celebrating their success and raising awareness of women’s entrepreneurship is an important way in which we can help grow dynamic communities.”

Entries in this year’s Telecom North Island category include an alpaca farmer, a bra designer and manufacturer, an importer/retailer, an export-focused food and beverage consultant, a writer, a soil specialist and an educator on biological farming.

The variety of entrants in the new Online Business Award category, sponsored by Fly Buys, illustrates the opportunities that the internet offers and the way it is levelling the playing field when it comes to doing business in a rural location.  The entrants include an online store focused on motherhood resources and products, a writer and author, a natural skincare manufacturer and a dog equipment company.

 The South Island category, sponsored by Access Homehealth Ltd, attracted the most entries this year, with businesses ranging from an eco-based tourist park, to a designer clothing manufacturer and retailer, a tourism publisher, a livestock brokering software and support company, a travel broker and a beauty and day spa.

The finalists are:

NORTH ISLAND AWARD
Kim Fagan, Cluster of small businesses, Te Kuiti
www.3gteak.co.nz; www.bb-nz.com; www.smarty-pants.co.nz; www.buykiwimade.co.nz.

Kim Fagan began her retailing hub company in 2003 in a vibrant cluster of buildings in Te Kuiti.  3G Teak stands for three girls, three generations, three girls.  Kim, her mother and her daughter.  The retail outlets 3G Teak selling handcrafted gifts and homeware; Cantik Living – designs for the home; BB NZ (corporate and promotional marketing); Elements (outdoor pots, waterfeatures and landscape products); Smarty Pants (creative and educational play for kids); BuyKiwiMade.  Kim has won many awards for business and in 2010 3G Teak was officially named the Top Giftware and Homewares Shop in the Waikato by the NZ Retailers’ Association and in 2011 was one of three finalists in the 2011 Waikato Business Excellence Awards Leader of the Year.  Kim undertakes the marketing and operational requirements of each business.

Kim uses interesting marketing strategies.  All stores have an in store web kiosk available for customers browsing to promote products offered online.  3G Teak now trades nationwide and internationally.  In order to meet compliance 3G Teak has its own devanning facility so imported containers can be unloaded onsite.  Kim has a MAF Facility Operators Licence and MAF Accredited Persons Licence.

Through her business Kim contributes to the wider rural community attracting people to come and shop in Te Kuiti and providing employment for nine families in the community.

Kylie Gibbard, Emkay Limited Levin,  www.emkaygirl.com

Emkay Ltd designs, manufactures and wholesales the Emkay Bra.  Its unique design was launched onto the NZ market in November 2010.  The bra evolved from Kylie’s need to find a bra that provided comfort and support and that she could wear all day out on the farm.  It was originally designed for the 14DD+ market and took five years of design and component testing before it was released.  It’s now available in 8B to 40HH.  Production is based on the farm at Koputaroa, 10 minutes north of Levin and are proud of their Kiwi-designed and made product, made with highest quality components and a local labour force which now includes 4 full time and 2 part time factory staff, 1 NZ sales rep, 1 admin and customer services manager as well as Kylie and her partner Darrell Stratton.  Kylie has a sales focus and Darrell focuses on the running of the factory and business.

The company now has 35 NZ stockists and has broken into the Australian market.

Emkay is a truly rural based company with its design at the heart of rural living.  With a number 8 wire and can do attitude, Kylie and Darrell’s unique Emkay Bra is set to revolutionise the bra industry.

Leonie Walker, Nevalea Alpacas, Taumarunui, www.nevaleaalpacas.co.nz.

Leonie began her business in 2007 with the purchase of two female alpacas with cria at foot.  Now she has a herd of 340 alpacas and she employs six part time hand knitters.  The fibre is used in the garments and products sold in Leonie’s farm shop.  Each animal’s fleece is individually processed, and Leonie designs the garments and felted products.  All garments are hand sewn, and they offer a made to measure service.  Products are also sold via an online shop.

Lucy Cruickshank, Innov8 Aotearoa Ltd – Masterton.

Two years ago Lucy Cruickshank decided it was time to set up her own export-focused food and beverage consultancy with the skills she’d gleaned from 10 years in the international sales and marketing sector of NZ agri business.

The business works with start-ups through to large multi-million dollar operations.  She not only assists client with strategies, but also gives the operator the confidence to follow through with implementation.

Lucy says her point of difference is the business’ focus on rural based food and beverage producers.

She has done consultancy work for a range of businesses, providing innovative marketing and sales strategies and implementation, and analysing global market trends.  She has also established and sold her first brand – Pure Aotearoa – to a large trading company.  She has also set up a national food distribution business – Pure Wairarapa Limited – to complement the food and beverage consultancy work she does.  Lucy won a trip to Japan sponsored by the Japanese Government to further relationships in the agri-business sector with the JENESYS programme, which allowed her to develop exports to Japan for Innov8 and her clients.  She recently won a Grow Wellington scholarship to attend the Activate programme.

Sue Edmonds, The Farming Writer,  Eureka Waikato.

Sue Edmonds is a regular attendee at farming events and conferences and is a keen analyst, interpreting the significant issues arising and then translating them into ‘farmer speak’ for her readers.  She currently writes for Coast & Country, Rural News and Dairy News and contributes heavily to the New Farm Dairies publication which is distributed nationally.  She has spent the last fourteen odd years living on a lifestyle block in Eureka in the Waikato where she cares for a pair of cows, donkeys and goats.

Nicole Masters, Integrity Soils – Waipukurau www.integritysoils.co.nz.

Integrity Soils is a specialist business providing educational services and books to the rural sector throughout NZ and Australia.  In a ‘soils first’ approach the business focuses on putting control back into farmers’ hands in regards to nutrients and soil, crop and animal management.  It aims to support farmer learning to ensure food quality produced is the best in the world.  As biological farming moves into the mainstream, Nicole’s passion that she has pursued for the last 10 years since graduating from Otago, is becoming a reality.  She says “many on farm issues can be solved through improved observation skills and proactive management as opposed to the reactive model currently favoured.”

Nicole started her business to fit around being a single mum in a rural community, starting with a commercial worm farm supplying worm products, compost works and delivering school education programmes.  In 2003-4 she became the youngest chair on the board of Soil & Health in its 70 year history.  She is now an independent agricultural extension agent, working out of Waipukurau in Central Hawke’s Bay.  She organises conferences on biological farming, runs workshops here and in Australia, and promotes eco-agriculture through writing articles in rural papers, establishing farming networks and covering all sectors from dairy, beef, viticulture, horticulture, market gardening etc.

Nicole believes there are many incredible women who have played pivotal roles in shaping agriculture, and she believes now more than ever farming requires this feminine quality, working with nature in a more nurturing and empathetic manner.

ONLINE AWARD

Frances McInnes, Breastmates, Cambridge  www.breastmates.co.nz

Breastmates is an online store that started from humble beginnings in 2004 with $50 start up  and a one page website.  It started as a hobby while Frances was on maternity leave when a bad shopping experience helped identify a gap in the market for a breastfeeding specialty store.  This has now evolved into a trusted maternity brand with quality products and reputation.  The business operates solely through online sales and retails many brands, plus the company’s own designs and branded product range.  The online store focuses on motherhood and supporting mothers with their choices as well as selling products.  It has a large community of 13,000 Facebook followers, and an extensive base of resources (over 2,500 articles).  It also has a child birth educator and lactation consultant available to answer questions and an easy to use website.

The community and article base builds trust and potential customers and Frances believes that if they help people and give their time they will come back and purchase, or refer the store to their friends.  Supporting mothers is the key to the business, rather than selling products, and that is the key to Breastmates’ success.  The company has had steady increasing sales and performance since start up and is currently building international sales.

Rae Roadley – Writer and author – Maungaturoto, www.raeroadley.co.nz.

After moving to the city to a beef and sheep farm in Kaipara, Northland, in 2000, Rae’s work as a writer has evolved to accommodate her rural location, dreams and goals.  She has transitioned from being a full time newspaper journalist to being self-employed.  Initially she wrote for business and freelance articles, but is now also an author, columnist and writing tutor.  Rae currently writes for the Northern Advocate, NZ Concrete Society and Scene magazine. After several years as a columnist she submitted some of her columns to Penguin Books, which led to her publishing a memoir about her life at Batley, the Roadley family’s historic home, and the area’s history.  Love at the End of the Road was published in 2011, fulfilling a long held dream to become an author.  She tutors the Non-Fiction programme at NorthTec, with all the work done online.  In fact 95% of Rae’s work is now done online, and her promotional tools have grown to encompass social media.  Rae and husband Rex will feature in an episode of Country Calendar, filmed in early March.

Stephanie Kimpton – Oasis Beauty NZ Limited – Oxford – www.oasisbeauty.co.nz.

Stephanie says Oasis Beauty is a perfect example of what can happen when a person gets carried away with their hobby.  It happened to her 12 years ago when she discovered a book on how to make your own skincare products.  After producing a range of products with sister in law Donna Evans they began to sell by party plan, “the best product development any company could do”.  With this first hand feedback she researched, consulted suppliers and fine tuned her products.  Now Oasis Beauty offers a natural skincare range, with the point of difference being its specialisation in sensitive skin, sun protection and skin repair.  The company sells through beauty clinics, health stores and pharmacies and online.  All products are manufactured in a Christchurch GM-approved factory and each batch undergoes lab testing before going out into the market.  Ingredients are sourced in NZ as much as possible and the products are ‘cruelty free’. Oasis has grown from kitchen enterprise to factory-made in Christchurch and despite the Canterbury earthquakes and their aftermath has continued to grow its business, now employing two permanent part time staff and  casual labour to assist with preparing product samples and packing orders.  Stephanie works by the rule ‘treat people the way you want to be treated’.

The earthquakes caused Stephanie to review the business and a decision to focus more strongly on online sales to improve cash flow and profitability.  ‘The internet gives Oasis Beauty’ the same platform as every other business to showcase its products, services and points of difference.  It doesn’t matter whether a business is big, small, town or country-based, the internet levels the playing field.

SOUTH ISLAND AND ONLINE AWARD
Lynn Bridson, Bellbird Ranch Ltd, Owaka -
  www.catlinsnz.com

Bellbird Ranch Ltd in which Lynn is a 50% shareholder is a company that operates McLean Falls Holiday Park and Whistling Frog Cafe & Bar in the Catlins.  Having bought and run a sheep farm and planted a forest in the region (over 1 million seedlings) in 1996, Lynn recognised the tourist potential.  In 2001 Lynn purchased a farm that was located at a strategic intersection on the Southern Scenic Route and the iconic Cathedral Caves and McLean Falls intersection.  The run down sheep farm also included 100 ha of native bush, since fenced off.  Coming from a hospitality background, Lynn and her husband’s introduction to sheep and beef farming was a steep learning curve.  When the Southern Scenic Route was tar sealed in 2005 the couple gauged there were sufficient travellers to support a tourism business including a holiday park, motel and chalets and on site cafe and bar.

The extremely remote location presented its own challenges  with no cellphone coverage or broadband.  But despite being ‘the worst place in New Zealand to do business’ Lynn recognised the potential of the scenic wonderland.  They used an eco theme and recycled buildings and cabins, and based the decor on a Kiwiana theme.  They planted 10,000 natives to attract bird life, and a pond to offer habitat to the resident endangered Whistling frogs.  Lynn handles the daily operations for the park which can now offers 60 beds and accommodation for 100 tenters and campervaners.  It is often full. The business has boosted the local economy and employs 7 fulltime workers during the high season.  Tour buses also regularly stop by.

Rose Voice, The Real Dog Equipment Company Limited, Ranfurly; www.realdog.co.nz.

Rose’s passion for dogs has been with her for 30 years.  At that stage she was immersed in sled dog racing with Alaskan Malamute dogs, and imported gear from the US.  Being ‘a fairly sufficient sort of girl’ Rose thought ‘I can make that’.  She purchased an industrial sewing machine and set up costs came partly from the sale of a litter of puppies.  She developed a few articles of gear, and then a website to sell it through.  Her idea was that if she had a website and a courier she could live anywhere.  She sources materials, hardware and fabrics of high quality and guarantees her work.  A musterer came to the Southern Field days with his collar that he’d bought 9 years ago that had out-lived two dogs!

Her business has grown and diversified, including lifting strops for search & rescue dogs, collars for seeing-eye dogs and dog backpacks, life jackets, bungy leads all designed and tested by Rose.  She has expanded into the alpaca industry making halters, ropes and backpacks, as well as award winning Limited Slip dog collars used by the country’s top sheep dog trialists, and bull show halters and horse handling ropes.

Last year her husband retired from Police work to work with Rose and they moved to the Maniototo building a home and purpose built workshop and space for their 14 dogs.

Now they send gear all over the world, and even send sled dog equipment to Alaska!

They use YouTube and Facebook to make and show instruction movies for people struggling with a training issue or use of a piece of equipment.

SOUTH ISLAND AWARD

Christine Wardell, ChritinZ – Balclutha -  www.christinz.co.nz.

Christine started out designing a comfortable pair of pants to wear while recovering from an operation in 2006 and the business grew as she started making pants for friends and family until it became a full time occupation and the ChristinZ label was born.  The range grew to include skirts, jackets, tunics, dresses cardigans, coats and more. Clothes are made to order and many different fabrics are used to provide garments with an individualised look. Now she sells ‘on the road’ at shows and fieldays, as well as ‘pop up shops’ where she bases herself at a different South Island locate for three days at a time.

She also has a website shop and mail order service, meaning location is not  a barrier to supply.

She now employs a part time sewer and some of her clothing manufacture is outsourced.  Despite the range now including over 30 different garments , her original pants are still her Number 1 seller.

 

Amy Lamb, Tourist Times – Waikari, www.holidayhere.co.nz.

Five years ago, Amy Lamb purchased her first business, Tourist Times Canterbury.  After proving doubters wrong about the ability to run a business such as this from Waikari, along with farming and raising children, she has gone on to purchase the Otago/Southland and Nelson/Marlborough/West Coast regions of the monthly tabloid regional newspaper business.  The publications promote local businesses and regional destinations, with each newspaper run under a licence agreement.  Amy’s introduction to the media began at the NZ Broadcasting School where she studied for a Bachelor of Broadcasting Communications.  She is married to a North Canterbury sheep and beef farmer, and she sees her business as being all about communications and providing opportunities to allow businesses, regions, destinations, communities and people she works with to grow.  Building strong partnerships in her business meant that after the Canterbury earthquakes she didn’t miss an edition, and in fact provided the only updated printed information directly intended for visitors.

Jennifer Scott, Livestock Office, Cromwell  www.livestockoffice.com

After many years developing and selling software products relating to farming businesses, Jennifer now focuses on promoting Livestock Office a professional, specialised and comprehensive software package incorporating the latest advances in technology.  The aim is to provide the agricultural sector with innovative, reliable and affordable software.

Jennifer undertakes sales, training and support.  LivestockOffice is the only specialised Livestock Brokering software developed in New Zealand for NZ conditions, but with potential to be used internationally, which is the company’s focus for the immediate future.  It can be tailored to suit any livestock business from a one man band to the corporate level.  Modules available include mass communications, auction transfer, document manager, web sale using hand held devices and eSale using smart phones.  It includes debtors, creditors, cashbook and general ledger, GST calculator, reporting etc. It can handle all types of sales private, grazing, auction etc.

Lynne Sinclair, NZ Travel Broker – Five Forks.

Lynne is a self-employed travel broker living at Five Forks, 20 minutes inland from Oamaru.  Not restricted to the bricks and mortar of a traditional travel agency, she is able to fulfil her clients needs around the clock, from home.  She deals with air travel, accommodation, rental cars, cruising, coach tours, groups and special interest, sightseeing, foreign exchange, insurance, visas passports and more.  She’s been a travel broker for 15 years and is still passionate about travel.  In November 2011 she was placed 1st in QBE Travel Insurance Broker of the Year, and GO Holidays Broker of the Year.  When not travelling, virtually or actually, she helps on the family’s 305 hectare farm.

Sarah Huggins, Inspire Beauty & Day Spa – Waimate.

Sarah’s vision is to create an oasis of peace and tranquillity where you can soothe your mind, relax your body and renew your spirit.  She is the operator of Inspire Beauty and Day Spa in Waimate, where she’s lived most of her life, and lives on a farm.  But she’s no country bumpkin.  She has a strong passion for living on the cutting edge of style and fashion and says her calling is to make people feel good about themselves.  After graduating from beauty training school in Christchurch nine and a half years ago, she worked in Oamaru and Timaru, honing her product knowledge and developing her passion for specialised skincare.  She was however keen to help Waimate to become more self-sufficient in service and retail, with many people shopping and spending outside of the local area.  And so Inspire was born in 2008 and she became her own boss.  She now employs another person, and brings the benefits of the big city experience to the small town Pop. 3000.  She offers facials, skincare consultation, manicures, pedicures, massage, waxing, electrolysis, tanning, make up, weight loss programmes, botox and more.

The winners will be announced at a special ceremony to be held on the opening night of the RWNZ national conference in Hawera on Monday 21 May.

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