Natashia Telfer overcame cancer to give back to the community, and Olga Imbriano started her dream business with a single product. Now these two inspirational women have been jointly named the Rubik3 Canberra Women in Business (CWB) Business Women of the Year.
Such was the standard of candidates for the title this year that CWB president, Sheena Ireland, says the two outstanding women shared the title.
She says in these current hard times, female-led businesses are showing great tenacity in dealing with the global COVID-19 pandemic.
“So many have juggled their children’s home learning, pivoted to keep their businesses alive, and had the added pressures that a lockdown environment brings,” says Sheena.
“However, the applications received for this year’s awards were absolutely outstanding. Of course, many noted the challenges they faced, but what they also told was the story of overcoming those challenges and how the current environment has made them even stronger.”
For Natashia, overcoming cancer at 18 led the co-founder and director of National Community Care to a place in life where she works to make a difference in people’s lives.
“It was because of the amazing care I received that made me want to pursue this path,” she says. “My original plan was to be a primary school teacher.
“When you love what you do it’s not really work.”
Natashia gives a voice to people with special needs to help them avoid falling through the health-care gaps.
“It is up to us to help fight for the ‘forgotten ones’ – the people in the NDIS [National Disability Insurance Scheme] sphere who don’t fit in the square holes,” she says. “It’s up to us to make noise to achieve change for them.”
Natashia says it is easy to name the highlight of her working life since establishing National Community Care six years ago.
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, she was working on a long-term project to assist four people living at Canberra Hospital, who have disabilities deemed too significant to go into community care.
“It was a seven-year project to get them out of the hospital, to show they didn’t belong there,” says Natashia.
Today, thanks to lobbying by Natashia and National Community Care, the four people are living in a shared house in Stirling with 24-hour care and a quality of life they deserve.
“They have come such a long way … they’re thriving now,” she says.
For Olga, it was her passion for children and the environment that has led her to career success.
After moving to Australia in 2015, and not being able to find a product she used while living in the Czech Republic, Olga created a baby bodysuit extender, which extends the life of a baby’s bodysuit garment as he or she grows.
Passionate about minimising the environmental footprint on the planet, Olga offers advice to parents of all ages about the benefits of using recyclable and ecofriendly baby products.
She launched her dream business, Bellelis Eco-Family, in 2018, with the single product, Snap and Extend. After only 18 months in operation, she received second place in the Handmade category at the 2019 AusMumpreneur Awards, and later opened her shop in the Canberra suburb of Kambah.
“It’s all about trying to eliminate waste around babies and make products last longer,” says Olga. “Some people don’t think you can do that with babies, but you can.
“But every parent is different. Some people may be having their third child and decide to use cloth nappies after using disposable ones before. It’s just a matter of talking to people and telling them what’s available so they can make up their own minds.”
She describes her Bellelis Eco-Family business as a one-stop shop for eco-conscious families looking for reusable products for themselves and their children, and a place that normalises the use of cloth nappies.
Other winners in the 2021 Rubik3 Canberra Women in Business Awards include:
- Vanessa Schimizzi, Branded Graphics – Young Businesswoman of the Year.
- Melissa Lacey, Point River Networks – Indigenous Business Woman of the Year and Innovation Business Woman of the Year.
- Justine Lennane, Gumnut Dance – Small Businesswoman of the Year.
- Antoinette Gomez, Exhale People – Social Impact Business Woman of the Year.