2018 NSW Business Excellence Award finalists


Cassandra Hamel – Milton Country Retreat “The Chocolate Cottages”

My name is Cassandra Hamel and 1st and fore most I’m a mother of 2 young children. My daughter is 2.5 years and my little boy is 6 years old. We bought a cottage accommodation business called Milton Country Retreat back in 2013 located in Milton NSW which is a small rural town on the south coast. When my daughter was only 1 years old I decided I wanted to create something magical, something extremely different here at our accommodation business and provide our guests with a special experience that they will remember for years to come.

We now provide lavish Champagne chocolate experience picnics where our guests are spoilt rotten with a hand sculpted chocolate creation personally made for their group, complimentary cocktails in a gorgeous faux fur picnic setup in our open field with a majestic view of pigeon house mountain. A real favorite for our guests! We are about to build more 2 more cottages and provide more chocolate unique experiences. I’m determined to grow our business, continue to provide a high level of excellence and never waver on quality. We changed our name 12 months ago and we now formally called Milton Country Retreat “The Chocolate Cottages”.



Caz Hoad – Silver Stork

Every woman, pregnancy and baby is unique. And so every Silver Stork care package is unique. Silver Stork curate bespoke care packages for new mums, mums to be and their babies, filled with premium items and quality essentials hand-picked to suit their individual needs. Each care package is tailored based on Silver Stork’s signature personalised questionnaire system that allows them to get to know more about each customer and their personal pregnancy or motherhood experience. They can then provide a suitable collection of products the customer will love and benefit from. Each box comes complete with personalised hand-written notes explaining the benefits of the contents. A midwife in a box! 1-off care packages and subscriptions are available. Caz Hoad (Silver Stork founder) felt the need to launch a personalised concierge service, which saves women time and money by sending all they need in one box, to their front door. Free.



Chamaine Lovett and Suzan Temizer – Three Birds Do Wine

Chamaine and Suzan , founders of Three Birds Do Wine, are two business professionals with combined experience in technology, art and travel, and six children, having met when their sons became school friends. Soon a wine club emerged, bringing a platform for networking and events.

Three Birds Do Wine offers female-focused bespoke wine tours, events, and handpicked wine delivery service. TBDW is about the collective experience of women sharing, tasting, unwinding and reconnecting through a little escapism for any occasion, with the details to create the unforgettable Hunter Valley experience.



Diane Carter – Dummies and Playdates 

Diane started Dummies and Playdates on a shoe string / boot strap start up business and worked full-time as a nanny while she also ran and started her own business, she found it hard having to work a normal 12hour day, then add travel on top so around a 14hour day, then come home and work on her business to get it to where it is today.

Diane now works full-time in the business she finished her nanny career about 2 years ago to put all her time and effort into the business. Over the past 4 years Dummies and Playdates have serviced families and companies across Sydney and the Blue Mountains with our wonderful nannies and babysitters.



Fatema Khanbhai – The Chai Room

The Chai Room came about because Fatema craved a connection with the home she had left behind after her and husband moved to Sydney ten years ago. After having their first child, Fatema decided to step back from a busy career and be a stay-at-home mum. During this transition, she rediscovered her love of chai – from her childhood. The smells, tastes and rituals of making chai transported Fatema  back to her own family ‘chai room’ where they would warmly greet guests with steaming cups of chai. It grounded her and strengthened her as she navigated this new world of mother hood. Fatema wanted to share the joy she found through chai with he friends and the business grew from there.



Jessica Gough – Jespresso

Jessica Gough commenced honing her barista skills in 2005 in humble circumstances but with big dreams. Even at this very early stage Jessica was driven by a commitment to excellence and great service. Jessica started the business in 2015 with one bright pink coffee cart and since then has acquired a second cart, runs barista training and has created her own blend of coffee, Lily’s blend that is used at locations around the Central West.

Jespresso offer a range of different services including coffee cart hire, barista courses and training, catering, servicing and spare parts. Jessica is trained by nationally recognised industry professionals and constantly staying abreast of current coffee trends or developments.



Louisa Sanghera – Zippy Financial Group

Louisa Sanghera established Zippy Financial Group just over 3 years ago and has grown significantly in this short time, from a single broker to a team of 5. Zippy services include; residential and investment mortgages, commercial finance and vehicle and asset finance.

Louisa is proud to have built her business entirely by referrals from happy clients, with busy mums, ‘mumpreneurs’, and working women forming the foundation of our clientele.



Madlen Veitch – Ivory Rose Botanicals

Maddie created Ivory Rose Botanicals to entice the senses through enchanting florals designs. As a florist with its own unique style our business model to was designed to follow our own path and steer away from the scope of a traditional florist.

Maddie first opened the doors to Ivory Rose when her first son was just weeks old. The business was designed to allow her to juggle being a mum and a business owner together with her son growing up in the store with her. The business surely took off faster than she anticipated with a wedding turnover of 72 weddings in the first 8 months by herself. The next year she found a few recruits and enlisted a team of volunteers from a local disability service – a key part of her business model was to employ and train individuals with disabilities to work with her.



Mim Jenkinson – Love from Mim

My main business is Love from Mim – a content site for Australian mums to find simple solutions, tips and hacks to find more time for the things they love. I share easy-to-implement and practical ways to save time and money.



Natalie Gaul – Natalie Gaul

Natalie is a true introvert and enjoys the quieter side of life with her husband Damien and beautiful children, Lili and Charli. Natalie is a Transformation Coach, Advanced Breathwork Practitioner, Writer and Illustrator. With her unique set of skills and down to earth approach, Natalie provides a sacred space for women to reconnect with their innate inner wisdom and personal truth. Through the gentle unpacking of beliefs and conditioning, she provides the safety and challenge needed to step out of fear and into the driver’s seat of your life. Natalie leads her clients to a place of personal freedom, actualising a whole new level of self-acceptance, worth and comfort in their own skin.



Ruth Lazerson – ruthie L. designs

ruthie L. designs is a boutique textile design studio specialising in ethically crafted custom rugs for residential projects. Working closely with interior designers to create the perfect piece of floor art and assisting designers to bring their beautiful vision to life, Ruth’s integrity, humility and attention to detail is at the core of everything she does. Her respect, dedication and commitment to the many artisans in India who craft her rugs is a fundamental cornerstone of her business and each client is treated to photographs of the fascinating hand-crafting process which brings their unique rug to life. As a dedicated supporter of GoodWeave International, Ruth is committed to combatting child labour in the carpet industry and will soon begin (through the sale of her rugs) to assist her own weaving community to educate their children. Making the world a better place one rug at a time.



Sandy Bartlett – Stairway 2 Dreams

Sandy Bartlett a lady of 56 years young. A partner of 20 plus years, a mother to four fabulous young gentlemen and a very proud grandmother of three. Sandy is the founder and principle coach of Stairway 2 Dreams. Sandy founded her
business out of a yearning to experience more from her life journey.

Stairway 2 Dreams is the vehicle that Sandy uses to inspire young leaders, business owners and individuals to be fabulous, stand tall and honour themselves. Stairway 2 Dreams offers coaching programs that sees their clients adopting change
that inspires, motivates and challenges their status quo. By achieving this Sandy truly believes her clients create the happiness, confidence and fulfilment in life they desire.