Women In Business
Photograph courtesy of member Strange images
Women in Business is one of the fastest growing entrepreneurial demographics in the Wheatbelt. At the WBN, we want to challenge mindsets, smash goals, innovate and encourage women to grow personally and professionally for the benefit of the region. We know fostering relationships and skill building are two key assets to the success of business and we aim to provide women with these opportunities in the Wheatbelt.
Our WE Shine women’s event is a spectacular occasion to challenge yourself and reach for new heights. If you are interested in attending WE Shine this year please get in touch here. WE Connect is our prominent mentoring program that connects women of varying skill level and provides incredible growth opportunities. If you are interested in participating in WE Connect, get in touch here.
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WE Shine is an annual women in business event that is focused on intensive networking and business development. Female entrepreneurs from across the Wheatbelt attend to network and learn from other high profile women. Held annually in October it is a must attend event if you want to grow your business skills and network. Keep up to date with event information by subscribing to our WE Connect news here.
Women in business in the Wheatbelt can access our WE Connect business mentoring service. This is an annual program where we connect female business owners in the region with high profile and well respected business leaders. If you are interested in being a mentee or a mentor please contact the WBN.
We encourage as many WBN members to connect with one another. But you don’t have to be a member to be included in our Wheatbelt Women in Business groups. And if there is a particular business or female business owner you would like to connect with we can provide the introduction.
Geography and distance is always going to be a challenge when building a community and support network in the Wheatbelt. We encourage you to join one of our online groups to ask questions, find support, build relationships and push your business to success!
WBN helped us look at the processes in our business, what worked well and what needed attention. Then gave us some solid actions we could implement and linked us with contacts that could help streamline our systems. We highly recommend Wheatbelt Business Network.
I asked the WBN for a few policies. Wow, Caroline was fantastic in listening to my plea for help. With very short notice Caroline was on to it. She gave me some great advice then pointed me in the right direction. So grateful for the information and help.
These Women Mean Business
Anthea Brown is a passionate driving force behind an impressive vertically integrated farm and butchery. Her innovative approach to business is a fantastic example of the rewards gained from thinking outside the box. “Baillee Farm” is home to a passionate West Australian farming family, adopting harmonious farming practices in the Avon Valley. The second arm of the business – The Meat Hook Toodyay, provide pasture raised Dorper, Black Angus and Boer Goat to consumers and chefs.
Born in the small Wheatbelt town of Bruce Rock, the Brown family moved to Perth in 1980 where Anthea completed her high school years. A qualified lawyer, prior to returning to farming, Anthea worked in Sydney, New York for the Austrade (Department of Trade as it was known at the time) – the office in charge with promoting Australian Food & Wine exports (to the US) and Jakarta.
Livestock and good food are her passion. She is passionate about educating consumers and showcasing local produce, promoting “no waste” consumption and preserving food traditions. Her message is – source produce from local producers, source ethically raised produce, and pay a fair price for that produce.
Thinking outside of the box and build a business model that works for your business and your customer. By value adding along the supply chain, quality control and produce ownership is retained by the farmer, until the point of purchase by the consumer and allowing value-adding opportunities for our produce.
Business tip from Anthea: “Shear determination, flexibility, and agility have shaped my successes.” Speaking on the importance of branding and reputation, she has created, “A Brand that provides consumers with the ability to interact with the farmer and thus developing a relationship of trust.”
Joley Holliday is an innovative business woman, family portrait photographer,
saxophonist and mother to three young boys who has established a successful pilates
studio, Stem Pilates, in Moora.
Joley and her husband Marcus moved to Moora in 2012 and started Walkabout
Physiotherapy. The high demand for their physiotherapy services got them thinking
about how they can offer a greater range of services that enables them to help their
clients earlier, to avoid the injuries they were presenting with.
Joley began looking into how Pilates could improve the health and wellbeing of their
clients. Pilates focuses on improving core strength which in turn corrects poor posture
and can prevent chronic pain and other health issues. Once trained in Pilates, Joley
started offering sessions as a preventative approach in the Walkabout Physiotherapy
The groups quickly outgrew the treatment room space and relocated into the waiting
room, but within three months got so popular the classes required its own space,
which resulted in the opening of Stem Pilates Studio.
Stem Pilates now has three staff, a crèche, and offers individual sessions and over ten
group classes each week, increasing to 15 classes in spring and summer.
What is behind such a successful business? Joley says consistency is key. “Your
customers need to know you are going to be open regularly. With exercise, we don’t
need another excuse not to be active.”
“We also make sure we are providing our customers with a dedicated space that is
welcoming.” Including things like soft aroma diffusers, individualised artwork and a
welcoming entrance turns a shop front into a sanctuary that customers will want to
Melissa Tinker is passionate about preventive health and fitness. A business
owner, mother and farmer in Pingelly, she still manages to fit in playing netball,
hockey and tennis into her busy schedule.
Growing up in the Pilbara and moving to the Wheatbelt to marry a farmer,
Melissa bought Earl Street Physiotherapy in Narrogin in 2016 after working at the
Practice for 3 years. It had always been her dream to own a physiotherapy
practice, and living in the Wheatbelt helped make this dream a reality sooner.
Since taking over the Practice, Melissa has increased the team from two to
four physiotherapists, expanded their geographical coverage to also include
regular visits to Corrigin and Boddington, added innovative new assessment
techniques, and a broader range of treatment options. Working in Health care in
the Wheatbelt has meant diversifying her team's skills to allow for the lack of
more specialised care which is available in centres with a larger population.
Business tips from Melissa: “Identify and communicate clearly what your point of
difference is as this will help clarify what it is you offer and set you apart from
your competitors. Learn strategies to help you become really good at
multitasking, enabling you to juggle home life, hobbies and business. Don’t let
anyone tell you that you can’t do it, anything is possible if you give it a go.”
Sharnee Beard was raised on a family farm in Mukinbudin and after going to boarding
school, University to study a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resource Management,
then working as an agronomist for Elders in Kojonup, returned back to run the family
farm. During this time, her passion for cooking and food developed into the desire to
turn it into a business.
Identifying a gap in the market in customs catering, her first business – Wild Strawberry
Catering, was born. It was in the ten years of delivering custom menus throughout the
Eastern Wheatbelt that she developed the skills and know-how to planning and
creating exciting menus.
Sharnee now runs Table & Taste, offering cooking classes throughout WA and an
Australia-wide food & wine club, Table & Taste Club. The club gives members a
monthly menu to create at home, complete with recipe cards, cooking timelines and
video demonstrations. In addition, menus are carefully paired with delicious wine that
you can purchase direct from feature WA wineries, with incredible discounts offered.
Sharnee’s got her inspiration to create Table and Taste comes from food lovers
wanting to experience great food and wine more often and wanting to cook for their
friends but finding it overwhelming. She is also inspired by a whole host of cooks. Kate
Lamont, Maggi Beer, Nigel Slater, Tessa Kiros and Ottolenghi to name a few. They
focus on cooking with beautiful fresh produce to create delicious dishes that match
the seasons. At the same time they aren't too serious and cook with an approachable
attitude. These underlying notions underpin all her menus.
On starting a new business, Sharnee says “It has been a huge learning curve,
particularly because my customer base focus has shifted from entirely local to
Australia wide. I've had to be very flexible and able to adapt as the first year has
progressed. If customers aren't responding to a service or product or if they are
wanting more of something, then I reassess and adjust. I rely heavily on customer
feedback, month by month.”
Business tips from Sharnee:
1. Be passionate about what you do, but make sure you charge your worth. At
the birth of your business, working out what your business goals are includes
working out financial goals. The best advice that was given to me when I first
started catering was that the thing that differentiates a hobby from a business
is that you have to make money from it. If you don't make any money, you can
become resentful and unmotivated to continue, or worse, you may not be
financially able to.
2. Your business will succeed if you are truly giving your customers what they
want. Allow the customers to be the focus of your business and take time to
put yourself in their shoes. No matter what business you are in, regularly
imagine or think about what your customers experience is from you. By doing
this, you can make focussed changes your services and products and ensure
that you are always flexible to making improvements.
3. Create networks. I have to put this in because I truly believe this has been vital
to running my businesses. I have many networks that all serve a different
purpose. I have my close business circle who are the ones I discuss business
tactics with and even use to seek advice. Sometimes we have to be open to
the advice that we don't want to hear as well. Then I have a network of other
strong women who inspire and motivate me to move forward and continue to
work towards my own goals. Seeing other women achieving their own goals is
so empowering to me. And my network of customers is what inspires me the
most. Their business and loyalty and the long term relationships you build with
them are paramount to the life of your business. I also continue to develop a
network of other food industry professionals who I can go to for all things food
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Curious about WE Connect and how it might benefit your business? Here are some experiences from past participants.
“Small business is tough and sometimes, actually a lot of the time your just not sure if your doing the right thing, be it with your marketing or with important stuff like business planning. This is where I found myself and when the opportunity arose to be involved with the “we connect” program and being paired up with a skilled business mentor, I knew I needed to get on board. My mentor was like a friend and the conversation was easy. She made me look critically at decisions I was making or thinking of making and come at decisions from a different angle. She gave me the confidence to move forward with some blocks in my journey (self-imposed) to which my business has hugely benefited. Overall the experience was extremely positive and rewarding and I encourage anyone to get involved regardless of where you are in your business journey.”
Mentored by the very successful Melissa Strutt, CEO of Roobix, Alli Butler is a Wheatbelt based comedian and artist. Alli enjoyed the challenge and contact with Mel and the business strategies they implemented has seen Alli’s awareness and presence as a professional artist grow from strength to strength.
“As a performing artist the mentoring program was instrumental in helping me look at my revenue streams and lead me to producing a live show that I’m now able to tour. The direction given to me from my mentor allowed me to gain clarity around the business side of my artistic endeavours and I’m extremely grateful for WBN for providing the service”