Careers

5 of Australia’s top female entrepreneurs

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If you are dreaming of starting a small business, there is no shortage of inspiring role models. Balance has featured many successful female entrepreneurs who have turned smart ideas and simple beginnings into thriving businesses.

We’ve chosen five of our favourite Australian female entrepreneurs who have built their business empires through passion, persistence, courage and resilience. What’s more, every one of them is willing to share their experience and knowledge to support and enable other women.

emma-isaacs

Emma Isaacs – Founder and Global CEO of Business Chicks

She started her first business at just 18, and by the age of 28 Emma Isaacs had bought four other businesses and sold one. After buying Business Chicks, she grew the small group of 250 members into a community of thousands of engaged women. It has become the largest online community for Australian business women wanting to connect with like-minded career women. Business Chicks Australia produces over 100 events annually; publishes a magazine called Latte and facilitates thousands of new connections every week for its members and 250K+ social media following through its engaging content. Emma is a highly sought after guest speaker and media commentator on topics around female leadership and entrepreneurship.

How does she inspire us?

Emma is passionate about encouraging women to be bold, courageous and to take risks. Business Chicks‘ ethos is to empower working women, regardless of the size and type of business, by facilitating connections, sharing knowledge and skills. Emma is an Ambassador for 1 Million Women and also actively mentors a number of female entrepreneurs and business owners.

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Lorna Jane Clarkson – Founder of Lorna Jane leisure and active wear

Nearly 30 years ago, fitness instructor Lorna Jane Clarkson was frustrated at the lack of interesting workout clothing for women, and started designing and wearing her own active wear creations. Inundated with enquiries from the women in her classes she began creating her own range of fashionable active wear. Recognising a gap in the market, she left her job and in 1990, started a design studio and opened her first Lorna Jane retail store. Her venture has grown into a network of 200 stores covering 14 countries, and had an annual turnover of nearly $100 million to $280 million.

How does she inspire us?

The Lorna Jane brand values are to motivate and inspire women, not just to be more active, but to follow their dreams and create an amazing life. The company has built a long-term partnership with one dedicated and ethical Australian-owned and managed manufacturing group that solely produces their products, and is a WRAP certified business.

“It’s all about putting yourself on the line. If you’re not willing to do that. How can you really achieve anything?” – Lorna Jane Clarkson

 

Naomi Simsonbusiness person, blogger, entrepreneur

Naomi Simson – Founder and CMO of Red Balloon & Co-founder of The Big Red Group

In 2001 Naomi Simson started her online ‘experience’ gift company, Red Balloon, with just an idea, $25,000 and a second-hand computer in the front room of her house. Her first ever sale may have generated just $9, but today she is one of the most successful entrepreneurs in Australia. In 2017 Naomi and co-founder David Anderson started The Big Red Group to provide management and services to their businesses: RedBalloon, Redii.com, RedBalloon NZ and The Huddle. Each of these businesses deliver services to business owners, from marketing and online retail, to helping employees thrive or education and information programs.

In addition to expanding her entrepreneurial ventures, she is a blogger, speaker, director, mother and author. She has released several books and appears on the popular Network Ten program Shark Tank where she is an advisor to entrepreneurs and investor of start-up businesses.

How does she inspire us?

There were many challenges starting her business in an era where people didn’t trust the internet and Google was in its infancy. Instead of being disheartened, she approached each problem with integrity and as an opportunity to grow and improve.

Naomi is a passionate advocate for small business owners. She has created a strong social media presence, with over two million LinkedIn members following her thoughts, entrepreneurial projects, and problem solving advice to build better businesses.

“Passion, persistence, positivity & purpose creates business success” – Naomi Simson

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Carolyn Creswell – Founder & Managing Director of Carman’s Fine Foods

Carolyn was only 18 years old when she bought a small muesli company in 1992 for $1000. She would make and package every packet of muesli in her own kitchen, then make the deliveries to a few local cafes and delis out of her little hatchback.

Carmen’s products are now available in 3000 locations nationwide, is exported to 32 countries, and has an annual turnover of $100 million. In addition to managing the business, Carolyn is a blogger, speaker and passionate about being a good mum to her four children.

How does she inspire us?

Carolyn has turned her passion for healthy food made from real ingredients to Australia’s number one gourmet muesli brand. While working tirelessly to grow her new business, she also managed to finish her university degree. She is a strong advocate for creating a healthy work-life balance which is also reflected in the supportive culture of the Carman’s office.

Carolyn sits on the Board of the Human Rights Law Centre and is an Ambassador for the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre and the Australian Childhood Foundation. She is also Patron of the St Kilda Gatehouse.

michelle bridges

Michelle Bridges – Creator of the 12 Week Body Transformation

Best known as the straight-talking trainer on (nine seasons!) of Channel Ten’s ratings heavyweight The Biggest Loser, Michelle Bridges has become one of Australia’s most influential personal trainers. She has created a fitness empire worth $50 million. In addition the hugely successful Michelle Bridges 12WBT program, Michelle has authored 16 books, has appeared on numerous programs as a commentator on health, fitness and weight issues, and is a highly in-demand speaker. After the success of her fitness clothing and equipment range, she has expanded into kitchenware and an extensive exercise equipment range, amongst others. She is also a loving mother to her 2 year old son.

How does she inspire us?

Michelle’s strong opinions have created controversy in the media but she makes no apologies for her straight-up approach and strong beliefs. She has had to find the resilience and grace to deal with negative media reports, invasive paparazzi and the occasional social media backlash. Through it all she maintains her belief that anything challenging builds resilience, and is proud of the fact she has managed to stay grounded and true to herself.

Michelle is an ambassador for The Australian Institute Of Fitness, and a big supporter of various charities including the RSPCA, Black Dog Institute and the Mothers Day Classic.

“My purpose is to support every Australian at any stage on their journey towards better health and fitness” – Michelle Bridges

Balance Team

This article was written by the brains trust of Balance . We are a talented team of writers and contributors with real life experience and a passion for finding balance.

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