PHOTOS: Illawarra Women in Business Awards

An incredible 12 months continued for Wollongong businesswoman Maralyn Young on Friday when she was named Illawarra Business Woman of the Year for the second year running.

The owner of Casa Mia Bra Fitting and Post Mastectomy Specialist and founder of the BreastAware initiative was almost speechless when she accepted the title for a second time at the Illawarra Women In Business (IWIB) Awards at the Bella Portofino Function Centre.

For the second year running, she pipped good friend Karen Meiring De Gonzalez, of Skin Correctives, for the title and this year they were both joined at the lectern by Jonni Nicolaou, of the Lagoon Seafood Restaurant and Seacliff Function Centre, who was highly commended alongside Mrs De Gonzalez.

IWIB directors Glenda Papac and Delyse Del Turco said the calibre of all the finalists and winners in all categories was a testament to the standard of businesswomen in the region.

Mrs Young's latest recognition comes just weeks after she was named Small Business Champion Entrepreneur at the 2014 Australian Small Business Champion Awards.

The national award was not only recognition of her business but the important work she does in the community to raise awareness about breast cancer and the importance of regular self breast examination.

Mrs Young opened the first Pamper Centre in Australia 15 months ago to help women fighting cancer and then developed the BreastAware program to take the important message of regular self breast examination into schools, networking and social groups, community centres and aged care facilities.

A few days before the IWIB awards, Mrs Young posted an emotional thank-you on social media to everyone who had contributed to her incredible year, especially her team headed by Michelle Matisse.

"My staff are the most valuable part of my business and I thank them for their dedication and loyal service," she said.

She also acknowledged her husband, Kerry.

"Without a loving supporting husband I would never have been able to follow my dreams and achieve all my goals," she said. "Thank you Kerry for your continued encouragement and support."

Mrs Young encouraged all first-time entrants, saying a couple of years ago she would never have dreamed of nominating herself for any recognition until she started attending IWIB functions.

But when the networking group encouraged her to push herself forward, the results changed her life.

"What it has done is give me confidence and belief in what I am doing and prompted me to launch the BreastAware program," she said.

Other major awards went to Maree Kerr, of Healthy Cities Illawarra, whose work was recognised with the Outstanding Commitment to the Community Award.

Melissa Abu-Gazaleh, of the Top Blokes Foundation, and Jesy Pinkerton were highly commended.

Illawarra Young Business Woman of the Year was Lauren Gale, of the Top Blokes Foundation, while Ally Kelly, of Mind Blank, was highly commended. Georgia Kollaras was named Illawarra Young Achiever. Runners-up Kuer Bul, of TIGS, and Hayley Pymont, of City Diggers, so impressed judge Julie Norris that she awarded them scholarships.

WINNERS

2014 Illawarra Women in Business Award winners

Champion Networker:  Carol King, of Possibility Plus.

Best New Business: Wendi Leigh Designs. Highly commended was Angels for Autism.

Best Home-Based Business: Neryl East Communication. Highly commended was Kathy Karas Art.

Best Small Business: Skin Correctives. Highly commended was Simple Fitness.

Best Business: Casa Mia Pamper Centre. Highly commended was Russell Vale Animal Clinic.

Illawarra’s Innovative Business Woman: Jonni Nicolaou, of Lagoon Seafood Restaurant and Seacliff Function Centre. Highlycommended was DrNeryl East.

Illawarra Young Achievers Award: Georgia Kollaras. Highly commended was Kuer Bul.

Outstanding Commitment to the Community Award: Maree Kerr, of Healthy Cities Illawarra. Highly commended were Melissa Abu-Gazaleh, of the Top Blokes Foundation, and Jessica Pinkerton.

Illawarra Young Business Woman of the Year: Lauren Gale, of the Top Blokes Foundation. Highly commended was Ally Kelly, of Mind Blank.

Illawarra Business Woman of the Year: Maralyn Young, of Casa Mia Pamper Centre. Highly commended were KarenMeiring De Gonzalez, of Skin Correctives, and JonniNicolaou, of the LagoonSeafood Restaurant and Seacliff Function Centre.

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