Illawarra Women in Business Businesswoman of the Year and Casa Mia managing director Maralyn Young was named Small Business Champion Entrepreneur at the 2014 Australian Small Business Champion Awards on Saturday night.
The national award was not only recognition of her business, Casa Mia Bra Fitting and Post Mastectomy Specialist, but the important work she does in the community to raise awareness about breast cancer and the importance of regular breast self-examination.
Mrs Young opened the first pamper centre of its kind in Australia 15 months ago to help women fighting cancer.
She then developed the Breast Aware program to take the important message of regular breast self-examination into schools, networking and social groups, community centres and aged-care facilities.
Mrs Young was one of four finalists in the fashion category, after having entered the specialist small business category.
When she missed out on the fashion award she decided to relax and enjoy the evening, because being one of 25 finalists in the major champion entrepreneur category, she did not expect to win.
"You could have picked me up off the floor," she said.
Friend and fellow Wollongong entrant and finalist Karen Meiring de Gonzalez, of Skin Correctives, recorded Mrs Young's speech and said she accepted the award with grace. She said Mrs Young thanked Steve Loe (Precedent Productions managing director) for showcasing so many small businesses and giving them a chance to shine.
Mrs Young said her win would help her raise more awareness about breast cancer and her community initiative to help more women of all ages become breast aware.
"The reason I am here is because of the amazing women I help who have been diagnosed with breast cancer," she said.
"They inspired me to open the pamper centre, which led to Breast Aware which we take around to schools. Thank you, because now more people are aware of breast cancer and the importance of early detection ...
"I never dreamed in a million years that this could happen to me. Without the support from my amazing team of girls, my loving husband [Kerry], and the incredible network of friends this would not have happened. Great things can happen to ordinary people so never stop reaching for that ever elusive goal because nothing is impossible."
Friend and breast cancer survivor Tanya Curran Brown said she was fortunate Mrs Young would be the MC at the public launch of her book A Tale of Two Titties at the Novotel on April 14.
Mr Loe said the awards were a celebration of the most outstanding businesses in the country, and the exceptional people and teams behind them.