15 November 2018

Eco-stylist who urges people to ‘get off the fashion trend-mill’ among Canberra award winners

| Glynis Quinlan
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Eco-stylist Nina Gbor making an award acceptance speech at the Canberra Women in Business Awards. Photo: Supplied.

An eco-stylist who moved to Australia three years ago with the hope of building a sustainable fashion business has been honoured with a newly-created ‘Champion of the Year’ award at the Canberra Women in Business Awards.

Nina Gbor, who coined the phrase ‘get off the fashion trend-mill’, was one of nine women to take out awards at the prestigious event, with the owner of two iconic Canberra cafes, Tracy Keeley, winning two awards – Canberra Business Woman of the Year and the Leadership Award.

The awards ceremony was held at Pialligo Estate last Thursday night (8 November), with ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr presenting each of the 43 finalists in nine categories with certificates, noting the great courage and determination it takes to thrive and succeed in business.

Nina, who is a regular contributor to The RiotACT, said she was very surprised to win the award in a new category created especially for her.

“I moved to Australia three years ago with the hope of building a sustainable fashion business that empowers women to be the best of themselves, helps alleviates the poverty of garment workers and minimises fashion damage to the environment all at the same time,” Nina said.

“I’m incredibly appreciative to Canberra Women Business and the Canberra community for embracing my goals, my values and my work.”

Nina said that she “left everything and everyone behind” when she moved to Australia – a place where she didn’t know anyone and had never been before.

“This was all for the opportunity of fulfilling my purpose and living a life that I was passionate about. So winning this award means all the sacrifices I’ve made to get here and do what I love have been worth it,” Nina said.

Nina Gbor moved to Australia with the aim of building a sustainable fashion business that empowers women ‘to be the best of themselves’. File photo.

Nina said that being an activist for lesser-known women’s issues feels like an insurmountable task sometimes.

“Receiving acknowledgement for this work is not only wonderful, but it means wider reach and a higher impact for the causes I care about such as sustainability in the fashion industry, social justice for women and care for the environment.

“I believe that women are the key to social, economic and political growth/progress in any community, society or nation. This is why my advocacy and work are geared towards empowering, uplifting and supporting women in any way I can and in everything that I do.”

Award winners highlight their journeys ‘against the odds’

Speaking at the Gala awards event last Thursday night, Canberra Women in Business President Peta Swarbrick said she was delighted to see a broader range of women across different industries and sectors putting their hand up for awards and recognition this year.

“We know that too often, women don’t put themselves forward for awards, it’s humbling and exciting to see the number of applicants and the quality of applications rise every year. I hope this strength and growth continues through the next year and beyond,” Peta said.

“Once again our winner’s speeches were exceptional, highlighting journeys from the loungeroom to office space, leadership against the odds and sheer determination through more than a decade of business.”

Tracy Keeley has transformed two iconic cafes

Tracy Keeley, who took out the Business Woman of the Year award for 2018, is a passionate supporter of female entrepreneurs who has made a strong mark on the local business scene.

Tracy Keeley took out the Business Woman of the Year award for 2018. Photo: Peta Rudd.

Tracy has transformed both the Bookplate cafe at the National Library of Australia and the Pollen cafe in the Australian National Botanic Gardens into thriving eateries.

She took over the lease at Bookplate in 2014 and created Pollen in March last year – changing it into a ‘destination cafe’.

“Some people like stumbling across a home in need of a make-over. For me, it’s a restaurant. Specifically, restaurants and cafes in a prime location where their potential hasn’t been realised,” Tracy explains on her LinkedIn profile.

From loungeroom to successful IT payroll business

Another woman to take out one of the prestigious ACT awards was Christine Marr who received the Small Business of the Year award.

From humble beginnings in her loungeroom 13 years ago, Christine has built up a successful IT payroll business named ‘Bookssorted’.

Christine Marr took out the Small Business of the Year award. Photo credit: Kylee Sharples, Wilomark Imagery.

“I’m no longer a mum trying to juggle a start-up business in my loungeroom, I’m the CEO of a national payroll company that ranks as the third largest in the region. And we’re still growing,” Christine told the audience at the award ceremony.

Tireless work to build a resilient community

Canberra Lifeline CEO Carrie Leeson was ‘humbled’ to receive the Public Sector Award which recognised her tireless work and dedication to building resilience in the local community, creating a safe society and removing stigma around mental health illness.

Carrie Leeson, Chief Executive Officer at Lifeline Canberra, received the Public Sector award. File photo.

“Lifeline Canberra is four per cent government funded. The majority of our income for the services we provide to over 35,000 Canberrans annually is generated through our own commercial operations. It’s an efficiently run business with a community heart,” Carrie said.

The full list of award winners is below:

Canberra Weekly Public Sector Award
Carrie Leeson
Special Commendation to Juliet Moody

Rubik3 Innovation Award
Christina DeLay

Dixon Advisory Mentor of the Year
Jennifer Wittwer

IML Leadership Award
Tracy Keeley

Nous House Micro Business of the Year
Annette Braagaard

Solace Creations Small Business of the Year
Christine Marr

HerCanberra Young Businesswoman of the Year
Kym Degenhart

Chamberlains Law Firm Business Woman of the Year
Tracy Keeley
Special Commendation to Suzette Bailey

CWB Champion of the Year
Nina Gbor

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