The historic Wyening Mission Cellars provided a spectacular backdrop when over 120 women from all over the Wheatbelt gathered for the Women Entrepreneurs of the Wheatbelt conference, ‘We Shine’ on Friday 27 October.
A unique event designed to connect and inspire businesswomen of the Wheatbelt, We Shine brought together a diverse collection of WA entreprenuers, innovators and business pioneers all willing to share their knowledge to help others on their business journey.
The afternoon began with a Welcome from Anna Dixon, who also gave an introduction to ‘We connect’ a concept developed by WBN to connect Wheatbelt women in business with mentors to help them grow and develop their business.
Keynote speakers followed beginning with Jahna Trethowan – a farmer’s wife and mother of two – with her truly entertaining story of how her and her business partner’s idea to create a range of pet caskets took them on a business roller-coaster ride which has seen them win a WA innovation award and take out bronze in the Worldwide Packaging Design Awards held in China in 2016.
Next, lawyer Catriona Macleod, co-director of a 25 person law firm in Perth, shared how her firm has evolved to becoming not only thought leaders in the legal industry but also to be known for their commitment to more flexible workplace models which have encouraged women to return to working in the legal profession. Her messages of ‘Just say Yes’ and ‘Let it go’ resonated with many in the room.
A business Q and A with an eclectic panel then opened up a discussion which ranged from how to deliver the best customer service, using storytelling as a tool to build your brand and breaking through the glass ceiling as the three ladies on the couches; Ann Maree Hagge of Bindoon Bakehaus, Jay Crisp Crow of Crisp Crow Copywriting and Leonie Knipe of Avon Valley Toyota answered questions from the floor directed by Danelle Cross from the Curtin Centre for Entrepreneurship.
Whilst all three women shared very different backgrounds, Anne Maree as a baker and co-owner of a successful business which grew from having 5 to 35 staff, Jay as a former communications officer who took the plunge to run her own copywriting business and Leonie as the only female car dealer principal in WA who forged her own path in a male- dominated industry, their messages were clearly aligned. Follow your intuition, believe in yourself, ask for help and continue to improve every day were key take-homes which they urged emerging businesswomen to remember.
After the keynote speakers, delegates were faced with the dilema of choosing 2 out of a potential 4 masterclass options, which included Andy Lamb from Innovation Studios on building a business model; Anna Zamit from Xsell on ‘Selling yourself’; Nicolle Jenkins from Hub Marketing Communication on strategic marketing; or Joanne Gilbert from RSM on financial empowerment.
After such an amazing flux of information the RSM-sponsored sundowner outside was a welcome breath of (freezing cold) air. An appetising grazing platter and glass of champagne facilitated many an animated discussion of the lessons learned during the day, and the opportunity to mingle and meet many of the movers and shakers in the region was the perfect finish to a wonderful day.
Small business owner Rachel Sheahan of Scissorwest in Bindoon commented, “This was one of the most enjoyable and value- rich business events I have ever attended. The speakers’ stories were inspirational and engaging, the mini workshops also gave us a chance to work on our businesses and think outside the square.
“The calibre of businesswomen in attendance was top notch and even better that they’re from all across the Wheatbelt.”
Well done to the fabulous group of women (pictured above) who made this event happen – we do hope you’ll do it again next year.