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25 Oct 2018 10:16 PM | Deleted user

ST. JOHN’S, OCT. 25, 2018 – Member of the Wendy Perrin WOW list was honoured tonight with the pinnacle award at the Newfoundland and Labrador Organization of Women Entrepreneurs (NLOWE) 21st annual Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.

Jill Curran, owner of Lighthouse Picnics in Ferryland and President of Maxxim Vacations in St. John’s, took home the Entrepreneurial Excellence Award at NLOWE’s 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year Awards on October 25th, held at the Sheraton Hotel Newfoundland. In 2003, Jill founded her first company, Lighthouse Picnics, which went on to win several awards over the years. Her entrepreneurial spirit, together with her determination and drive, paved the way to her success. She didn’t stop there, and years later Jill founded Maxxim Vacations, one of Canada’s leading tour operators providing independent and escorted tours throughout Atlantic Canada. Reflecting on her success, Curran attributes it to her staff, “I think the key to our success has been the people I work with, they certainly bring out the best in me every day.”

The award recognizes a long-time entrepreneur who has made a significant impact on the economy, and whose success is an inspiration for other women in business. The Entrepreneurial Excellence Award is sponsored by RBC - Royal Bank of Canada. “When I look at all of the wonderful entrepreneurs that won this award before, I am completely honoured and humbled to be in their company,” says Curran. Curran was one of six women business owners honoured at the 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.

Taking home the Young Entrepreneur Award, sponsored by College of the North Atlantic, was Megan Sooley, owner of Sooley Designs, in St. John’s. She says the key to her success is, “Taking people out of their comfort zone, going with my gut and going above and beyond for each client.” Sooley notes, “What motivates me is coming down to my studio, I get to work on creating something new every day. Every creation I make is my greatest achievement to that point.” 

Judith Bobbitt, owner of Oceans Ltd. located in St. John’s, was awarded the Trailblazer Award, sponsored by Cox & Palmer. The award recognizes an entrepreneur who owns and operates a business that has excelled in a non-traditional industry for women-owned businesses or successfully established a business in an industry uncommon to the area in which it operates. “Winning this award shows me that other people have been recognizing the work we have been doing for the community,” says Bobbitt, upon learning she would be receiving this award. Bobbitt’s piece of advice for new entrepreneurs is, “Follow whatever you are interested in, I feel like it is always individuals who make a difference.”

The winner of the Trendsetter Award, sponsored by TD, was Charlene Combdon, owner of Rock Solid Diesel in Grand Falls-Windsor. The Trendsetter Award recognizes an entrepreneur whose successful business employs innovation and original thinking in both its operational and promotional activities, standing out from others in its industry for setting trends and turning traditional ideas on their heads. “My inspiration comes from my community, my family and my nation,” says Combdon. “Receiving the Trendsetter Award is fabulous, I’m a female in a non-traditional industry and I am also Aboriginal—the world needs our ideas!”

Erin Stapleton, owner of Stapleton Environmental Consulting Inc. in St. John’s, won the Momentum Award, sponsored by Husky Energy. The Momentum Award recognizes an entrepreneur who has demonstrated significant growth and/or growth potential within a one- to three-year time span, having built a business that is adaptable and apt to successfully leverage opportunities for continued growth. “I am grateful to win this award. Without NLOWE, I wouldn’t be as successful as I am today.” Stapleton adds her advice for entrepreneurs, “Do not let fear hold you back. Along the way I have made some decisions that didn’t work out as planned, but I don’t regret those decisions—I learn from them.”

The Economic Impact Award, sponsored by Hebron Project, was awarded to Jennifer Veitch, owner of Veitch Physiotherapy & Wellness Centre in Corner Brook. The Economic Impact Award recognizes an entrepreneur whose business has significantly impacted the local economy, improving the economic position of the community in which it operates by employing local resources, stimulating growth and contributing to sustainable community development. Veitch has always made her community a priority, “Giving back to our community has always been really important to Veitch Wellness Centre” says Veitch. Veitch Physiotherapy & Wellness Centrehas helped hundreds of people reach their full potential since its inception.

“For two decades NLOWE has been honouring the outstanding women business owners of Newfoundland and Labrador through our Entrepreneur of the Year Awards,” says Jeanne Stapleton, president of NLOWE’s Board of Directors, “and this year is no different. This evening’s winners are helping create a stronger and more diverse business landscape in this province and we are happy to celebrate them and their contributions.”

The awards gala was attended by over 200 people including the Honourable Dwight Ball, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador and Elizabeth Beckett, Manager, Innovation, Enterprise Development for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) as well as other government representatives, members of the business community and industry professionals from across the province.

In addition to the 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year Award sponsors listed above, gala sponsors include, Suncor Energy, Power and Associates, BDC, The Telegram and Moments by Martha.

NLOWE has been handing out Entrepreneur of the Year Awards since 1998. Over 100 nominations were received this year and in the past, winners have gone on to win national accolades. More details about the awards, the selection process, and previous award winners are available at www.nlowe.org/awards.

NLOWE is the only provincial organization that is dedicated exclusively to the support of women in business, offering a provincial network of community partners and women business owners as well as training, resources and opportunities to help women develop and grow their businesses. NLOWE provides services to women in business thanks to ACOA, Status of Women Canada, and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.


For more information, contact:
Stephanie Dunn, Marketing & Communications Coordinator
Phone: 709.754.5455
Toll-free: 1.888.NLOWE.11
E-mail: sdunn@nlowe.org 

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