Who would have thought a girl from a little county town called Auburn in SA, who packed up and moved to Darwin in 1993, would become a designer, manufacturer, importer, retailer, wholesaler, blog writer, successful online seller and social media guru?

Not me! Yet here I am, recognized as a finalist in the Telstra 2016 Business Women’s Awards (NT) in the Entrepreneur Category.

What a great honour it was to be nominated for one of the most prestigious women’s awards in Australia, and how rewarding to be recognised amongst such a diverse and elite group of women.

I accepted the nomination as I felt it would give me the opportunity to show the business world that a successful business can start anywhere. A kitchen table, a backyard shed or a market stall. Successful businesses come in many shapes and forms.

The application process was not easy for me, but with the support and help from friends and mentors we got through it and I’m glad we did. It was a wonderful way to look back on how my business journey has evolved.

I was proud of myself for not being intimidated by people who thought, just because I ran my business from a market stall, my business was not relevant. It actually was a very smart business decision.

My journey started at Mindil Beach Sunset Markets 10 years ago selling thongs. The kind of thongs you wear on your feet. Many people would say “Oh they don’t have arch support” and didn’t buy them.

I said to myself “Who has arch support in their thongs?”

“I do!” And this is how I became an entrepreneur.

Starting the business with a young family and just finishing building our beautiful home, I was mindful of not developing the business too quickly and not to gamble with unnecessary risk. Learning to be patient, planning my vision and following my business plan was important to the success of the business.

I had no experience in designing and manufacturing footwear. But what I do have is strong values, stubbornness, passion and a never give up spirit.

I am self-taught. It has taken a lot of hard work, anxiety and many hours working on a production line in China. Yes, I am hands on too because I want to ensure that quality control is maintained.

Today I have a lot more experience, but I am still constantly learning. It has definitely been a very worthwhile and interesting learning process that I have thoroughly enjoyed.

Helping people is my passion, but if you had asked me when I first started out how many people Slappa’s Thongs would help, I would never have dreamt it would be so many people from so many different corners of the world.

At a workshop, hosted by Telstra, and held just before the awards previous winners shared their stories of how winning has opened a lot of doors.

Now, as an alumni of the Telstra Business Women’s Awards I look forward to meeting more amazing women (and men) in business and hopefully inspire other women to pursue their goals and dreams.

I will do my very best to encourage all women to self promote and not be afraid to go out of their comfort zones. I know I am a true example of this.

At the Gala Dinner I was thrilled to have many of my mentors, family and friends to share the awards night with me, as although the awards were all about me it was great to be able to thank them all for the help and support they had given me over the years.

Although I did not win, the experience has been amazing and I have learnt a lot. This won’t be the last time I accept a nomination.

To all those women out there who don’t think they could do this I ask you to think twice. The award process has done a lot for my confidence and helping me understand my business. Yes, there were times where I didn’t want to continue with the application, and, yes it takes a lot of time. But it was all worth it.

As I look back on how far I have come, I can stand up and say I am very proud of myself for taking a simple idea, and building it into a successful business that generates sufficient income to employ both myself and my husband Roger. Best of all it gives us a great work life balance to enjoy with our children.

You can nominate yourself or another wonderful woman you know just by clicking this link.

Yours Warmly,

Denise