Its International Women’s Day and what better time to celebrate the inspirational achievements of entrepreneurial women across the country. They are smart, enterprising and beckon to no man; these are the four most inspiring business women in Australia.
Heralding from the Apple Isle, this tenacious Tasmanian founded outdoor clothing powerhouse Kathmandu.
Jan began her business endeavours in Melbourne, hand making sleeping bags in student accommodation in the 70’s. Fifteen years later she had machines making those sleeping bags for her, along with a swathe of other outdoor gear, and was managing 46 stores across Australia, New Zealand and the UK.
In September 2006 she sold the last of her interest in Kathmandu for $247m to a private equity firm. Since then Jan’s gone on to rescue Australian Discount Retailers from administration and turn the company into a successful chain turning over nearly $1b a year.
Not one to be changed by wealth, Jan continues to kick back in rural Tasmania tending the chooks she’s saved from battery farms.
After picking up on the juice bar fad when she was on holiday in the US, Boost Juice founder Janine Allis has never looked back.
The former head stewardess on David Bowie’s yacht, along with her husband opened the first Boost bar in Adelaide in 2000. This kicked off the juice bar craze across the country and two years later they were opening up a new bar every four days.
The Boost Juice franchising model saw the number of bars climb to over 1800 worldwide as the company also took a controlling stake in Fresh Mex Grill after another holiday of Janine’s. As you might have guessed, this time it was to Mexico.
In 2010 the couple sold 70% of their stake in the company to a US private equity firm for a reported $70m. Today Janine is still a busy woman, continuing as Managing Director of the company she founded.
But most importantly, she has been one of KBB's most fantastic experts over the years!
Carolyn Creswell is the indomitable entrepreneur behind the country’s tastiest muesli, Carman's.
Faced with the prospect of losing her part-time muesli making job at age 18, Carolyn took the plunge and bought the struggling business for $1000. A story of persistence in the face of being flat broke and an amicable change in the business, Carolyn knew if she could only get into the supermarkets she’d be sweet.
Seven years of plucky persistence later, Carmen’s muesli hit the shelves. The brand has since exploded and Carolyn now exports to over 32 countries.
An inspiration to anyone plugging away at their dream, the mother of three is also an exemplary Australian, keeping the products 100% Australian made and owned.
Julia was newly separated, pregnant and out of a job when she realised the only way she was going to be allowed to get the top of the corporate ladder was in her own business.
It was upon this realisation that she founded recruitment company Ross Human Directions, the largest ever female-owned company to list on the stock market. Julia sold all her possessions to raise the $100k she needed to kick things off and started it all in a tiny Pitt St office with only a couple of offsiders.
Through diligent and driven hard work things blossomed to point where she was employing 500 staff over four divisions and the company was ready to list on the ASX in 2000.
After building the $60m listed company from scratch, Julia stepped down from the helm of Ross Human Directions last year when it was bought out by Chandler Macleod group.
All of these women have been pioneers in their industries, building business empires from the ground up. All made their own money by working extremely hard on business ideas they believed in and for that reason can be held up as an inspiration to us all.
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