This year's Illawarra Women In Business' Business Woman of the Year is the owner of Pipduck Australia, a gumboots and wet weather gear business that has been doing a roaring trade of late.
Former lawyer Helen Duckham held off stiff competition from many impressive businesswomen such as Lisa Burling, of LBPR, who was highly commended, for the main award at Friday's annual celebration of female business success.
Mrs Duckham's business also took out the Best Business Award, with Roberta Faddoul's Quantum Change Seminars being highly commended.
Mrs Duckham has run a business in Port Kembla since January 2013 when she opened Pipduck Australia in Wentworth Street, Port Kembla.
The business was originally started in a garage in 2006 while she was still practising as a lawyer.
She was keen to pursue other interests, but after moving to Wollongong she decided to acquire a warehouse to house Pipduck Australia and other businesses.
From Port Kembla she has distributed Pipduck's large range of ankle, mid-calf and knee-high rubber boots decorated with hand-printed designs.
Mrs Duckham started as a distributor for a designer of a product she saw and liked overseas that she wished was available in Australia.
But as demand grew, she started designing her own range based on what she thought the Australian market would like.
She later added a designer rainwear package, with colour-co-ordinated accessories.
The package included matching umbrella, fluffy socks, raincoat and a fluffy hat designed to be fun and warm in winter.
Mrs Duckham's business promotes itself as being Australia's leading retailer of stylish designer gumboots, wellington boots and rain boots for men, women and kids.
She said the boots were fashionable footwear that looked good and were practical. She also said she was particularly busy due to the recent wet weather.
IWIB director Glenda Papac said many first-time entrants had been recognised in this year's awards and the standard was extremely high.
Young Business Woman of the Year went to Erin Bubb, of Acting Up Drama. Jesy Pinkerton, of the Commonwealth Bank and JCI Illawarra, was highly commended.
IWIB Networking Champion was Debbie Reali, of Impact Art.
The best new business was LBPR and highly commended was Perky Pooches.
Best Home Based Business was Daisycare Nanny Agency, run by Melinda Robertson, and highly commended was Need A Feed, founded by Shaz Harrison-Shaw.
The Best Small Business Award was taken out by Joanne Danckwardt Real Estate Pty Ltd contracting to One Agency Sally Absalom Real Estate.
Karen Meiring de Gonzalez's Skin Correctives was highly commended.
The Innovative Business Woman title went to Leona Butler, of Butler Creative, with Karen Meiring de Gonzalez, of Skin Correctives, winning high commendation.
The Young Achiever Award went to Melissa Tierney, of the Disability Trust, and Katherine Read, of TIGS, was highly commended.
Simone Campbell, of Summit Fitness, was recognised with the Outstanding Commitment to the Community Award and Jonni Nicolaou, of the Lagoon Restaurant, was highly commended.
Delyse Del Turco, of Better Business Accounting, went from being a presenter of awards to a receiver when she was surprised by being presented with the Outstanding Commitment to the Business Community Award.