2018 Victorian Business Excellence Award finalists


Ali Villani – Ali the Shiny Sparkly Unicorn

Ali was only in school for a few short months before she realised she didn’t fit it. As in, not even a little bit. She felt completely alone, isolated and miserable, because she was teased daily for being “different” to everyone else. Ali’s mum told her back then, “Darling, being different is what makes you special – be brave enough to show everyone how special you are!” Ali followed that advice and those tough primary school years filled her with a resilience, grit and drive to empower others and lift other women to be their best and live their best life.

This philosophy is at the foundation of Ali’s business, Entrepreneurial Babes, an online community of 430 members – and Ali’s childhood experiences form the basis of her book, Ali the Shiny Sparkly Unicorn. It is a beautifully illustrated children’s book with an important message for little people to “Be Yourself”.



Belinda Small – Small Ideas

Small Ideas was founded 4 years ago by Belinda Small. It started as a printed coupon book and mid last year the digital version was launched in both Melbourne and Sydney. Small Ideas digital is a membership program for families with children from aged 1 to 13. It provides customers with freebies and savings across all categories that are important to families such as attractions, indoor and outdoor activities, lessons, products and family friendly café’s. Small Ideas currently partners with 500 businesses and brands who offer these discounts through the Small Ideas platform. This year Small Ideas has over 5,300 customers who have purchased Small Ideas for $34.95 and access this membership through the convenience of a web app on their phone. It’s super easy to use they simply redeem at each venue and save thousands of dollars each year. The businesses all offer something great for families and we are privileged to promote their offerings through the app as well as through our social media platforms and Small News newsletter.



Catherine Brooks – Author

Workplace relations specialist and mum Catherine Brooks helps working parents to better understand the joys of flexible work, the options available when it comes to working flexibly, and strategies you can use to negotiate better outcomes for your family and your unique circumstances. In her seminal book, ‘Let’s make it work, baby!’ – a kick arse guide to personal and professional success for new parents, Catherine provides a reassuring, practical and compassionate guide to dealing with the challenges parents face in juggling work and family, and highlights the stories of Australian parents making it work. Catherine is a Principal at law firm Moores, a co-founder of an online beauty store, Natural Supply Co, founder of Facebook group ‘Help a sister out’ (which is a community of over 8,000 women), Board member of Community Directors Council and Company Secretary of Women with Disabilities Victoria.



Chrissie Davies – Chaos to Calm Consultancy

Chrissie Davies is an educator, consultant, writer, loving mama via open adoption, and passionate advocate for understanding children with challenging behaviours. She is committed to empowering and supporting families to live the life they truly deserve. She lives with her husband and young family in Melbourne. Chrissie has over 15 years’ experience working for the Victorian Education Department, a decade of which was spent working in Specialist Education settings to meet the needs of children with extremely challenging behaviours.

Through her consultancy Chaos to Calm, Chrissie specialises in creating understandings and strategies to meet the needs of children with challenging behaviours. She supports both families and educators to create more awareness of the different ways to use communication and emotional engagement to make positive changes in children’s behaviour.



Erika McInerney – Mac&Ernie

Erika McInerney is the driving force behind Mac&Ernie – marketing and social media training. Erika grew up in Gippsland and returned in 2011 with her young family. Unable to sit still, she immediately set to work creating networks and opportunities within the community – finding ways to volunteer her marketing expertise while at home with a baby.

Through these networks, Erika soon recognised that local and regional businesses often struggle with social media and marketing and attempts to learn often left them more confused than ever. The space is flooded with ‘experts’ that simply do not understand the specific needs and challenges that regional and local businesses have. So Mac&Ernie was born in 2016 – to empower local businesses through workshops and one-on-one sessions. Providing practical, accessible and customised advice that is actually relevant and qualified.



Jane Garber-Rosenzweig – Gable Lawyers

Jane has over 14 years’ experience in all aspects of franchising, intellectual property and business law. Jane is the founder of Gable Lawyers and is a well-respected authority in franchise law, with many articles published in various franchise magazines. Jane somehow manages to successfully juggle her busy work schedule, attending to the needs of her three boys and her husband as well as keeping the household running smoothly and getting everyone fed and looked after. She does everything in her power to make sure that the boys flourish, both at school and in their daily lives. She lovingly and without complaint acts as a carer to her husband who is becoming progressively more disabled as a result of an aggressive form of multiple sclerosis.



Katie Maynes – Katie Maynes PR

Katie Maynes is a PR Coach & Consultant who believes in the power of storytelling to connect, build trust and create change. Katie has worked in PR for 18 years in Australia and the UK. In this time she has worked with Village Roadshow, Australia Zoo, Ben & Jerry’s, Visit London and World Vision. Katie started her consultancy in 2016 and works with major national charities including the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation and St Vincent’s Institute as well as fertility specialists Monash IVF. In this time Katie and her team have generated coverage in over 150 outlets and publications. Katie has coached ‘spotlight shy’ entrepreneurs in Australia, Asia, the UK and Europe.



Lacey Barratt – Lacey Barratt Photography

Lacey Barratt is a pioneer in the birth industry, paving the way for a more inclusive, dynamic, and unapologetically raw content through visual arts. As a doula, she pushes the boundaries of what women think they are capable of; helping them to break free of any societal norms or standards by understanding they are their own individual with individual needs. Lacey makes sure that her imagery is nothing less than artful and educational, striving to help women gain knowledge through her images.



Lauren Samuels – The Vibe Tribe

The Vibe Tribe is a boutique Melbourne based creative agency operated by Lauren Samuels and her team. Specialising in supporting businesses in their creative endeavours, TVT cover everything from traditional marketing strategies, social media management, content creation, event management and so much more. Business owner Lauren has a passion for connecting people, telling stories and helping businesses to think outside the box. This sassy squad have worked on everything from editing and publishing magazines, coordinating large scale influencer events and nation wide social media campaigns. They have managed to fit a fair bit into their short business life, but with a business philosophy ‘your vibe attracts your tribe’ it’s easy to see why they are all about positivity, creativity and good vibes.



Leanne Woff – Virtual Infinity

With over 15 years’ experience, Leanne is an award-winning online business manager, a bookkeeper, an avid business networker and connector, a systems junkie, a tech lover, and a mother of 2 sets of twins with an uncanny ability to spill every single cup of coffee she attempts to drink. As a mayhem manager, Leanne turns your messy business back end into streamlined processes that take half the time and keep your business moving forward. Being a digital whiz, Leanne helps you navigate the online world, keeping you in front of your customers and making sales. And as the number whisperer, Leanne shows you how to get the best from your numbers, helping you to understand your bookkeeping. Trusted by some of the biggest names in Australia, Leanne of Virtual Infinity offers brilliant business support to busy entrepreneurs.



Louisa Tew – AwayTeam

Louisa Tew is the founder of AwayTeam™;an ethical outsourcing company that matches workers in the Philippines with Australian businesses. She has had an extensive career spanning 20 years in the community development field, working for organizations such as Concern Australia and St. Kilda Gatehouse. Louisa is a strong advocate for fairness and equality and together with her partner Matt has created the AwayTeam™ business model based on these core beliefs. AwayTeam provides a convenient and ethical way of recruiting and engaging competent and loyal Filipino online professionals on behalf of Australian businesses. The goal is to create sustainable working environments that foster long lasting relationships between companies and their workers.



Rachel Allan – Visionary

Visionary marketing supports businesses with their business development and marketing. Providing coaching, consulting, and project management services. Stepping clients through the development and implementation of a marketing plan. In 2016 Rachel Allan launched When Business Meets Baby – her story of having a busy business and then a baby. Together with 30 contributors including Janine Allis and Carolyn Creswell, the book provides practical tips and tools to achieving balance. The book has led to Rachel being a sought-after coach, speaker and guest on podcasts. An online course and coaching programs support the book giving mums permission to let go of the super-mum myth. Rachel Allan is an experienced marketing professional who produces high-quality and results-focused marketing strategy.  Her mission is to see business owners become the best versions of themselves, achieving balance and success, by their definition.