Women in business
International Women’s Day (8 March) provides the focus for our Northern Rivers Women in Business feature. The women profiled on this page are a small snapshot of the amazingly talented women who conduct their business in this diverse region.
Talking to some of my female colleagues about the concept of IWD and The Echo’s feature, they asked why shouldn’t there be an international men’s day? (Yeah, okay, a couple of the blokes asked too.) That question encapsulates the feeling that many of us as women have, that we don’t feel we need any special attention just because we are women. As women, indeed as humans, we all go about our lives, doing our jobs, fulfilling our roles, finding our purpose. However when we take a step back and look beyond ourselves in our northern rivers bubble we see a world where in some countries women are forbidden to get an education and are married off as adolescents. Even in this country women are still significantly under-represented in management levels in business. Perhaps having a day that focuses on women gives us an opportunity to assess the situation both locally and globally and ask are we satisfied with the status quo and, if not, what is each of us going to do about it?
I hope you find the women profiled on this page inspiring. If young women are looking for role models then these women are fine examples of how the combination of passion, drive and muliebrity can bring excellent results in business. – Angela Cornell
Jemma Gawned - Naked Treaties
Naked Treaties was officially born in 2009, although I had been making healthy treats for my friends and family long before then! My original intention was to imbue the best organic raw food possible with a tangible feeling of love and wellbeing that would be felt by those who ate it. To this day we still prepare our food with blessings.
I moved the business up to Byron in 2010. We’re about community and we’ve been lovingly embraced by the Byron family. We send our ‘treaties’ – all created by hand with love – to around 200 stores nationally too.
We feel we are a new way in business. We’re purpose driven rather than profit driven and our most important assets are our staff. We want to provide a place of transformation where people are supported and free to be themselves.
If I could give one piece of advice it would be to find your purpose for your business and use that as your anchor. Run all of your decisions by your mission and it will keep you grounded and humble. It will get you through tough times too.
Our purpose is simple: To Spread a Vibration of Love Through Food. That’s it. As long as we’re always aligned with this I feel there’s something greater supporting us.
This really is a new, more feminine, intuitive way to run a business. I would say to women, and men for that matter, to trust your intuition and always stay true to your purpose.
Anne Malatt - Lightwaves at Bangalow
Anne grew up in country Victoria and trained at the University of Melbourne, the Royal Melbourne Hospital and the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital.
She has been a doctor since 1984 and an eye specialist and surgeon since 1992. Moving to this area in 1997, she worked for other local eye specialists at first, then in 2001 she established her own practice, in Station St, Bangalow. She consults from her rooms there, and performs both public and private eye surgery – including cataract, glaucoma, pterygium, skin cancer and eyelid surgery – in Lismore.
In 2012, Anne established her laser tattoo removal business, and was the first in the area to do so. She felt the need for this business in the area, and the call to provide safe, high-quality treatment in a professional setting. She performs the lasers at the end of her working day, to accommodate people who are also working.
Anne lives in the area with her husband, two teenage children, and two dogs. They also have three older girls and their partners and three grandchildren, who are a great part of their lives.
Anne enjoys teaching young surgeons, medical students and nurses as part of giving back to her profession, and works on several pro-bono projects delivering programs focused on lifestyle, health and wellbeing as part of giving back to her community.
In her spare time, Anne loves to walk, swim, cook, read, and write.
Kylie Milroy - Atlas Currency & Byron Foreign Exchange
Kylie Milroy from Atlas Currency & Byron Foreign Exchange is passionate about her business. ‘Currencies are a “live animal” and I find it fascinating that “value” doesn’t exist. Rates change every second of every day, with the Foreign Exchange (FX) market being substantially larger than the stockmarket and yet people, by and large, have no clue how it works or affects them personally,’ says Kylie.
She has a double degree in journalism and literature, but works with numbers and money. ‘This industry was traditionally male-centric with god-complexers who threw their weight around over rates and deals but there are substantially more women in the picture now.’
Kylie says greed is rampant in the finance sector and it irks her that banks aren’t more accountable or transparent to clients. They earn (multi) billion-dollar profits and exceed their targets simply by moving out a margin or adding another fee. That isn’t ‘real’ business.
Kylie set up their local, competitive and customer-focused currency exchange in Byron in 2001 and had to come from the Gold Coast business via the old Wooyong road every day! They have another store in Coolangatta at The Strand.
The licensing requirements are tough in the FX industry, but the greatest challenge in Byron is high-speed reliable internet connections, essential in FX! Also, if you aren’t in the office by 8am you write off 45 minutes of your morning sitting in traffic, which is ironic.
There are many things special about Byron. Its energy, its irreverence, its inclusiveness. It’s ‘the vibe’ of it. There are many diverse people and businesses in Byron and surrounds who work and travel internationally – we’re a village of ‘global locals’ and diverse tourists.
Janice Ryan – White Picket Fence
Janice Ryan from White Picket Fence saw a need to provide choice to the marketplace and so left her longtime position with one of the big banks to set up her own mortgage-broking business. Having her own business allows her to customise a loan to suit the individual. Looking after her customers is Janice’s number-one priority. She cites her customers as the greatest influence on how she runs her business. ‘If I have happy satisfied clients who who offer feedback on my services I will use that feedback to guide my business. I am more for the client than the monetary gain.’ Janice’s mother, a successful business person in her own right who had loyal clients for more than 40 years, shared with Janice her advice: ‘treat your clients as friends and how you yourself would like to be treated’.
Janice’s advice is to be yourself… but not only be yourself, try to be your customer! ‘Property ownership is a big step in someone’s life and individuals want to feel they have the support and guidance from someone who not only understands the finance product but can identify the emotions that their customer might be experiencing.’ Janice has had feedback from customers of both genders that they prefer her warm approach to the ‘cold’ and ‘direct’ approach that they have experienced with other brokers.
Nina Jeftic - Funky Moves
In the unassuming atmosphere of her local supermarket, little Nina Jeftic would dance from aisle to aisle, relishing that freedom of childhood to express without thought for surroundings; knowing without knowing that dance was not about the peripheral but a joyous universe within. It was a sensation that Nina never wanted to let go of and with the encouragement of her mother and her mother’s jazz ballet teacher, that internal universe would become – and remain to this day – the world in which Nina Jeftic would live.
Since 2003 Nina has been teaching at Funky Moves, the dance school she established immediately after her arrival in northern NSW.
‘I love how dance can take you away to another world where expression is physical and emotional; how it can move people and make them feel something special! The power and beauty of movement can bring to many a lifelong happiness. Without dance in my life I would not be complete.’
Nina Jeftic’s commitment to movement has taken her onto stages all over the globe, from big season productions, to tours with celebrity illuminati such as – Madonna, Kylie and Whitney Houston! And teaching has always been an enormous part of Nina’s holistic passion for dance, becoming her full-time focus in 2001, after the birth of her second child. An opportunity for Nina to beginning fully sharing a lifetime’s worth of knowledge and helping others retain that childhood desire to express rapturously through movement.
Peta Atkins - Southern Cross Credit Union
Peta has been the branch manager at Southern Cross Credit Union for almost six years; however, she has been involved in the banking industry for 25 years. She is incredibly passionate about helping people to navigate the world of banking and finance and empowering customers to take control of their financial wellbeing.
Moving from WA to the northern rivers ten years ago with husband Mark and her two boys, the family’s love for surfing and wish to surround themselves with an engaged and supportive community led them to settle in the Byron Bay area.
Luckily for Peta, getting to know customers and the community is a big part of her role at Southern Cross Credit Union. ‘I spend a lot of time out and about getting to know people. Our customers and the community are the heart and soul of our organisation, so it’s really important to me to establish real and meaningful connections with people,’ she says.
‘If there is one piece of advice I could give to women looking to get into the finance industry, I would say don’t be intimidated. Know yourself, be true to yourself and strive to be your absolute best. Learn to listen, communicate well and always remember to treat everyone with respect.’
Peta strives to lead her team of women by example and spends a lot of time discussing strategies to build confidence and empower them to be their personal best. ‘Their success is my success,’ says Peta, ‘and I’m proud of them.’
Gail Fuller - Byron Coastal Real Estate
I have been working in the real estate industry for approximately 16 years in Byron Bay and Bangalow. Having run my own company for more than 10 years, I have found it both exciting and rewarding seeing the business and its people develop over the years. As you can appreciate it’s an ever-changing kaleidoscope working in the Bay with the diversity of people and housing in such a small area.
So what is great about our industry? Well, every day is different and you never really know what to expect. Having a solid foundation and systems keeps this process running smoothly and supports both ourselves and our clients equally so.
As a woman in a traditionally male-dominated industry, there can be the perception that we can become hard in our approach to cope. I find this not the case. There are times when a firmness is needed to handle the emotional issues that arise for people, but generally the more gentle, consistent approach works better.
Our motto for the business has always been about cleaning up the Byron properties and providing a product to the marketplace that reflects some love and care. We continue to grow the business with this in mind and expand our footprint with a steady attitude.
For me, this is the industry I love and I know this is where I belong.
The people interaction is definitely the bonus and also the opportunity to renovate and style the properties is an enjoyable aspect too.
It’s International Women’s Day on Sunday March 8. Some of Australia’s most successful enterprises are owned and run by women. The northern rivers plays host to many of these powerhouses. Women are nurturers and providers as well as academics, workers, artists, poets and everything imaginable.