Businesses that embrace innovation and give back to their local community dominated last night’s Telstra Business Awards.
Melbourne-based fashion company Cargo Crew snapped up the national small business award for its impressive growth and the way it helps other businesses save money on custom uniforms.
Cargo Crew was founded in 2002 with the aim of making fashionable uniforms that employees, particularly in the hospitality sector, can still be comfortable in.
The business designs the uniforms from scratch and then keeps the specifications on file in order to drive down resupply costs.
Founder and creative director, Felicity Rogers, told SmartCompany winning the 2015 Telstra Small Business Award was a surreal moment.
“A national award like this really does reinforce that we really are doing something unique,” Rogers says.
“It was a tough field, I must say. There were some amazing businesses in all categories.”
Rogers grew the business along with her sister, Narelle Craig, and husband Paul.
She says the key to a successful family business is always keeping the lines of communication open.
“For us, it works,” Rogers says.
“We really do have the perfect mix of left and right brains. For us, there’s no downside – we’re all supporting each other when we need it.”
Asked for her advice for budding entrepreneurs and business owners, Rogers says the trick is believing in yourself and pursuing something that stands out from the crowd.
“If you have an original idea and a passion for something, you can really make it work and we’re an example of that,” she says.
“Literally starting from scratch isn’t an easy journey to take, but it’s definitely something that can be done if you come up with an original concept and an original product people want to buy. That’s the key to success in business these days.”
New South Wales cotton producer Southern Cotton took home the Regional Award category for producing more than 180,000 cotton bales last year despite being initially denied capital from the major banks.
The business started up only four years ago and now has a turnover of more than $25 million.
Southern Cotton’s general manager Kate O’Callaghan told SmartCompany her business has injected millions of dollars back into the local economy after many people thought the venture would not get off the ground.
“I think you’ve got to take the risk and not be risk-adverse,” O’Callaghan says.
“If your dream doesn’t scare you, you’re not dreaming big. Put yourself out there and you can achieve great things.
“Also, don’t be afraid to push the boundaries of excellence. We could have just been a small cotton gin, but to be a voice and represent the greater region is really important to us.”
The other businesses to snap up a national Telstra Business Award last night are:
1. Start-up Award
2. Micro Business Award
3. Medium Business Award
Executive Risk Solutions
4. Telstra Australian Business of the Year
Executive Risk Solutions