In a year where many businesses around Australia were forced to close during the COVID-19 lockdown Karen Meiring De Gonzalez has become a national voice who has helped bring about change and diversity in her industry.
On Friday she was named 2020 Illawarra Business Woman of the Year and took out the Customer Focus Award at the Illawarra Women in Business Awards for the way she leads from the front with her own business Skin Correctives in Wollongong and Shellharbour.
The judges were impressed with how when the the business was forced to close she home delivered products to her customers herself.
Mrs Meiring De Gonzalez is no stranger to business and industry recognition including being named IWIB Champion Networker at the IWIB awards in 2019.
But she was still blown away about being named Business Women of the Year in the region she is so passionate about at an event run by a networking body she said does so much for keeping business women connected.
She is also a proactive member of the community and not long after migrating from South Africa and establishing Skin Correctives founded a charity called Care & Share that helps families and carers of children with autism.
2020 has also been about caring for others. When she appeared on national television during the coronavirus lockdown it was to express concerns about how many small businesses in the industry were going under or on the cusp of not surviving the COVID-19 pandemic
And talk about the importance of the new Professional Aesthetic Industry Register (PAIR Australia) which was formed to advocate for the aesthetic industry. As well as provide guidance material and resources on good practice and safety standards as well as maintain a registry of businesses that meet minimum standards of training and education.
Mrs Meiring de Gonzalez said with so many businesses doing so many different things in the sector it was a fairly fragmented industry and PAIR was a way to bring everyone together, get them talking and help the industry survive COVID-19.
The Young Business Woman of the Year for 2020 was Teagan McKeen who founded Dance Affinity at the beginning of 2017 after working for other dance schools in the Illawarra.
The former Wollongong High School of Performing Arts student did a one year full time dance course at Brent Street Dance Studio in Sydney where she graduated with a Certificate IV in the performing arts before attending University of Wollongong where she completed a Bachelor of Commerce.
Her studio in Industrial Drive, Unanderra teaches everything from tap, jazz and ballet to hip-hop and contemporary as well as musical theatre.
Ms McKeen is also a choreographer for musical theatre company Soap Opera Productions. Her primary goal for Dance Affinity has been for children to come and enjoy dancing, improve their technique we as well as their self esteem, health and well-being.
Despite the challenges of COVID-19 she has expanded the studio with an extension at the back.
Other winners included Early Years Care run by Marie Armstrong Smith who provides a service to more than 500 children and their families being named IWIB Business of the Year, Best Small Business was Stand Up Paddle Boarding owned by Rebecca Dunning, Best New Business was Poseidon Equine with Linda Goldspink-Lord accepting the award and Best Home Based Business was Shaz Harrison's Need A Feed.
- Chef Sara Egan shows anything is possible by learning to stand up paddle board with cerebral palsy
- Local singer Jennifer Gray acknowledged for a job well done promoting her home town
- New dance school starting in Wollongong
- Need A Feed plans breakfast to say thank you to Illawarra community
- Networking with a difference on Tuesday organised weeks ago by The Illawarra Connection may be the last business networking event for a while
All the winners and highly commended;
Illawarra Business Woman of Year
Winner - Karen Meiring De Gonzalez of Skin Correctives.
Highly Commended - Sarah Nolen - Birdblack Design
Illawarra Young Business Woman
Winner - Teagan McKeen of The Dance Affinity.
Highly Commended - Katherine Akele of Daley Chartered Accountants
Winner - Early Years Care. Highly Commended - Wollongong Diagnostics
Best Small Business
Winner - Stand Up Paddle Boarding Shellharbour. Highly Commended - The Dance Affinity
Best New Business
Winner - Poseidon Equine. Highly Commended - Melinda Griffiths Lawyers
Home Based Business
Winner - Need A Feed. Highly Commended - Busy Business Woman
Winner - Karen Meiring De Gonzalez/Skin Correctives.
Highly commended - Michelle Mannix/Shellharbour Marina Real Estate and Melinda Griffiths Lawyers
Winner - Emma McIntyre of Environmental Mapping & Planning Consulting.
Highly Commended - Carmen Rudd of Zig Zag Hub
Winner - Yvonne Walker of HR with Ease
Executive PA, Secretary
Winner - Charlie Hook of South 32.
Highly Commended - Nicky Millbank of Skin Correctives
Winner - Tasha Armour of ROC Inc.
Highly commended Helen Hasan/Living Connected & Tammy McKee and Alison Ewington/FCOTA
- Illawarra business women to be celebrated at IWIB Awards at Villa D'Oro on July 31
- Photos of all the winners from Friday's Illawarra Women in Business Awards
- Illawarra Women in Business Awards the latest casualty of COVID-19
- Entries open for 2020 IMB Bank Illawarra Business Awards which have risen above COVID-19 crisis
- Photos of all the winners and more from the IMB Bank Illawarra Business Awards
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