The winners of the 2017 NatWest everywoman Awards were announced today at a ceremony attended by hundreds of leading figures in business and Government. These women are the epitome of entrepreneurial excellence whose companies’ combined turnovers amount to approximately £95million.
This year’s ceremony, held at The Dorchester in Mayfair, marked the 15th anniversary of the Awards programme – one of the UK’s most prestigious initiatives recognising the achievements of female entrepreneurs.
With the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) cutting growth forecasts for the UK in November and Brexit negotiations continuing to cause economic uncertainty, this recognition of the contribution that female entrepreneurs make to the country’s economy could not have come at a more pertinent time. Research from NatWest shows that in 2003 when the NatWest everywoman Awards were launched, women were on average starting 60,000 businesses per year.* Today, this number has increased to 126,000 and these female-owned businesses are now delivering £3.51 billion to the British economy, which amounts to 7.3% of the UK’s economic growth.** It is predicted that by 2020, 50% of the working population will be self-employed, making everywoman’s mission to encourage and support women to build growth businesses as timely as it has ever been.***
In celebration of a platform, which has for 15 years, promoted the success stories of over 100 female entrepreneurs and inspired the next generation of female talent, 15 past ambassadors were welcomed back to share the impact the Awards have had on their personal and professional profiles, as well as their organisation. These included Julie Deane OBE (The Cambridge Satchel Company), Pip Murray (Pip & Nut) and Jo Hansford MBE (Jo Hansford), who all highlighted the many advantages of being a NatWest everywoman Award winner or finalist, from new business opportunities following invaluable media coverage, to widespread recognition within their industries.
NatWest everywoman Woman of the Year
The overall 2017 NatWest everywoman Award was presented to Victoria Robertshaw of Keelham Farm Shop, from Bradford, who was singled out by judges for her business acumen and the tenacity shown when overcoming the many obstacles faced on her journey to creating an immensely successful business. Victoria took Keelham from years of generating £2 million per year, to an annual turnover of £21 million, producing and selling fresh produce to over 1 million customers in the last 12 months alone.
After her father died, Victoria took over the business and used the expertise and experience she gained from working in London for 13 years in accountancy and corporate strategy for some of the UK’s biggest retailers, to transform the business. A world away from London, she was forced to suddenly become completely hands on, manage all business aspects herself and navigate a completely new world of entrepreneurship. Keelham’s winning concept is to reconnect people with food through the community, and now welcomes environmentally conscious locals to contribute their own excess food to avoid wastage.
Victoria is constantly finding new ways to maintain sustainable practices within the wider community, which includes hosting school visits to instill good eating habits in children from a young age.
everywoman honours two of Uk's most successful businesswomen
Two of the UK’s most successful businesswomen also received special everywoman accolades at the ceremony.
The ‘Spirit of everywoman’ Award - created to recognise a woman whose determination, commitment and pioneering spirit has helped change the landscape for women in business in the UK and paved the way for others - was presented to Prue Leith CBE, entrepreneur, restaurateur, TV presenter and 2017 Great British Bakeoff judge.
Charlotte Tilbury, founder of the eponymous beauty and skincare brand, received the everywoman Ambassador Award, created to shine the spotlight on high-profile entrepreneurs and brands, recognising their business achievements and highlighting them as role models to young women considering entrepreneurship.
2017 NatWest everywoman Awards Category Winners
The 2017 NatWest everywoman Awards were presented to women demonstrating true ambition and tenacity in the face of adversity:
The Artemis Award - sponsored by Crystal Clear International - Awarded to the most inspirational woman running a business trading for 18 months to 3 years.
Sandra Sassow, SEaB Energy, from Southampton, entered the market by inventing and developing small-scale appliances allowing people to process their own waste and convert it into renewable energy, water and fertiliser. Sandra is making it normal to talk about waste, which is not only a big achievement, but also a necessary one, and SEaB’s customer base now includes Fortune 500 companies, hospitals, hypermarkets and multinational property developers.
The Demeter Award - sponsored by Nutriment Limited - Awarded to the most inspirational woman running a business trading from 3 to 5 years.
Julie Wilson and Amy Livingstone, Cheeky Chompers, from Edinburgh, manufacturers of the world’s first chewable dribble bib for teething tots, which has just sold its millionth product. From a simple idea inspired by their own experience of having to constantly re-sanitise their children’s dropped teethers, Julie and Amy spotted a gap in the market and created Cheeky Chompers. After personally designing the bibs, sourcing the best materials and testing each product for quality, Cheeky Chompers hit the shelves in 2013 and can now be found in some of the UK’s best-loved retailers such as John Lewis and Marks and Spencer.
The Athena Award – sponsored by Dell - Awarded to the most inspirational woman running a business trading from 6 to 9 years.
Anne Timpany, On Tap Plumbers, from London. After leaving New Zealand to travel the world, Anne found herself in London where she launched On Tap Plumbers with her husband. Just as they started the company, Anne became pregnant but didn’t let this stop her from hitting the ground running, publicising their services and gaining new business. This start-up commercial plumbing business, in an industry dominated by major construction companies, has since become extremely competitive and worked for some of London’s most iconic buildings including Facebook’s London Headquarters. She is passionate about educating the next generation of plumbers in the UK and visits colleges to inspire students to consider it as a career path.
The Hera Award – sponsored by EDF Energy - Awarded to the most inspirational woman running a business trading for 10 years or more.
Jo Stroud, Mantra Jewellery, from Leamington Spa, who designs meaningful pieces of jewellery engraved with inspirational and uplifting quotes, designed to have a positive impact on the way the customer feels. Before establishing the brand, Jo was one of the first high street stockists of many leading jewellery brands, including Pandora and Thomas Sabo, through her retail stores, Fabulous. After her suppliers pulled out to start their own stand-alone high street stores, they soon became her competitors. Jo tackled this head on by focusing on developing her own brands, including Mantra Jewellery, taking her from being a curator to a creator.
The Gaia Award - sponsored by Montezuma’s Chocolates - Awarded to the most inspirational and successful female founder of a social enterprise who has combined strong community benefit with a sustainable business model.
Dulma Clark, Soul of Africa, from London. Established in South Africa and recently registered in the UK, Soul of Africa is dedicated to providing local women and young people in Africa with invaluable skills and employment through the production of shoes made from all-natural materials. It has generated over $2 million worth of wages, supported over 18,000 children and partnered with charities to allow tribesmen in Namibia to commercialise their craft for making sandals. Beyond Office and Schuh in the UK, Soul of Africa is currently selling shoes in 20 different countries worldwide.
The Aphrodite Award - sponsored by Daily Mail - Awarded to a woman who founded her business whilst raising a child/children aged 12 or under.
Kate Ball, founder of Mini First Aid, from Leeds, began as a sole trader offering life-saving baby and toddler first aid classes to parents and carers in Leeds. After a successful year, Kate saw huge potential for growth and Mini First Aid now has 40 franchisees, providing a range of training classes to adults and children as young as three years old across the UK. After unexpectedly having twins while her business was expanding, Kate persevered through the early hours of the morning and has gained interest in the USA, Australia and Dubai, where she plans to continue raising awareness about the importance of life-saving training.
The Brand of the Future Award - sponsored by The White Company - presented by Chrissie Rucker MBE to an entrepreneur whose business demonstrates huge potential for growth.
Whitney Bromberg Hawkings, FLOWERBX, from London, who worked for TOM FORD for 18 years, working her way up to Senior Vice President of Communications, before deciding to chance a new business idea. She now owns FLOWERBX, an online, wholesale flower-delivery website that is revolutionising the way individuals buy flowers. FLOWERBX cuts out the middleman by sourcing flowers directly from a supplier in Holland, which allows competitive prices and international delivery in as quickly as two days. Whitney is now working towards launching FLOWERBX internationally, starting with the Middle East market.
Speaking about the winners, Maxine Benson MBE, Co-founder at everywoman comments, “When we launched the NatWest everywoman Awards programme 15 years ago, we could only imagine the number and the quality of success stories that would be shared on this platform. Every year we meet pioneering and innovative women who have overcome many challenges to build incredibly successful businesses. The women we have celebrated at these awards over the years – as embodied by the 15 ambassadors we welcomed back this year - have, quite literally, redefined British business and we look forward to continuing to work with them in order to super charge our ongoing efforts to drive forward women in business. We want to congratulate this year’s winners and finalists who will go on to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs contributing immensely to the UK economy and demonstrate that with fearlessness and boldness, anything is possible”.
Julie Baker, Head of Enterprise at NatWest says, “We are very proud to recognise these women, who are not just successful in their own businesses, but are also great role models. The importance of women in business cannot be underestimated, so we hope these role models will inspire other women to take their first steps in business. To help these entrepreneurs and would-be business owners, NatWest has a network of over 450 externally accredited Women in Business specialists who understand our customers’ ambitions and provide business advice, mentoring and networking opportunities.”
Prue Leith CBE, ‘Spirit of everywoman Award’ winner says “Anyone who has ever received an award knows how energising it is. The "Spirit of everywoman Award" at the NatWest everywoman Awards recognises women whose determination, commitment and pioneering spirit has helped change the landscape for women in business in the UK. I think it highlights the achievements of winners, but more importantly shows women everywhere what they might achieve if they really wanted to.
I'm often asked for the secret of my success and the simple answer is that I haven't a clue. But over the years -- and my long life in business, writing and telly -- there are a few things without which I am sure I'd not have succeeded. The first of this is stickability: it’s easy to start things: a marriage, a business, a hike up a mountain, even a baby. Keeping them going is the tough bit. Next I'd say a can-do attitude is a plus. If you don't think your big idea will work, why should anyone else? And then there is energy, which I was lucky enough to be born with. Everything worthwhile takes real commitment, energy and concentration to achieve. And finally there is trust: you need to work with people you can trust, believe the best of your customers, colleagues and even your rivals. Suspicion, jealousy and dislike are not the bedfellows of success.”