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Published 20 September 2012 15:39, Updated 21 September 2012 06:30
Melbourne entrepreneur Carolyn Creswell, founder and managing director of Carman’s Fine Foods, has won the Victorian arm of the Telstra Business Women’s Awards.
Creswell, a mother of four children under the age of 10, bought the business from her then employers for just $1000 when she was 18. Two decades later she has grown the business, which has predicted turnover of $50 million in 2012-13, to include 22 product lines distributed in 33 countries.
“I still go up to people in the supermarket that I see picking up a box of Carman’s and say: ‘that’s my business’,” she says . “I still know that I have to sell six boxes a week to stay on the shelves. I still know I sell a product around the world every two seconds.”
Creswell has undergone her fair share of challenges in business. Her biggest hurdle came six years ago when one of the major supermarket chains unexpectedly cancelled half of Carman’s stock orders. Despite having produced all of the orders for the chain, Creswell said the buyer would not renege on the cancellation. “It was the most devastating moment of my career,” she says. Rather than giving up, Creswell communicated with Carman’s customers and told them to rally together and request that the chain re-stock her products. After 18 months of nagging, she says the supermarket finally reinstated Carman’s to its shelves.
Creswell urged state and federal governments to, “start backing working mums” and recognising their valuable contribution to the workforce.
“I still own 100 per cent of the company myself. I don’t have a husband standing behind me as CEO. It’s my business.”
Other category winners included: Michelle Loader, AHS Hospitality (Hudson private & corporate sector award); Carolyn Creswell, Carman’s Fine Foods (Commonwealth Bank business owner award); Mandy Burns, Ardoch Youth Foundation (White Pages community & government award); Maureen Clifford, NDEVR (Nokia business innovation award); and Torie Mackinnon, Moonraker Dolphin Swims (Marie Claire young business woman’s award).