The 2009 Nellie Cashman Businesswoman of the Year event was a once-in-a-lifetime party. The entire process started back in early 2009 when nominations for the award were taken. All the nominees spoke at an early morning breakfast, filled out many essay questions and then waited as the judges went through all the applications. When I was chosen in the final five nominees, it was an exciting day! The judges then went over our business history with a fine toothed comb. They called customer references (thank you to Joanna from ProductBody and Debbie from SoapyLove for vouching for me as customers of Bramble Berry). They also called our lawyer and our accountant and asked for tax returns to confirm all the information in the applications. Nominees were judged on our entrepreneurial spirit (35%), ethics and community spirit (25%), financial and management skill (20%) and the difficulty and risk we have endured to achieve success (20%). The other fabulous finalists were Kathy Casey, Marcia Ives, Julie Tappero, Mari Eriksson.
Before the big event (held at the Fairmont Hotel in Seattle with 350 well dressed people in attendance), there were many opportunities to get to know the other Nellie finalists better. We did panel interviews for the Women Business Owners group, an interview with Chat with Women and had lots of opportunities to interact. All the nominees are incredible women – inspiring, unique, community-minded and whip-smart. One of them (Mari) runs a bead company. I’ve made earrings a few times but when I went into her store to make my necklace for the big night, I felt like a kid in a candy store. And who knows, I may have found a new addiction!
One of my stressors about the evening was the six minute speech that all the nominees had the privilege of giving. It’s stressful to speech in public, no matter how much you do it, and this night was particularly nerve wracking. My whole family was in attendance, friends from the Women President’s Organization were there and several of my business mentors were there. My biggest fear was crying up on the stage. Thankfully, the Nellie committee hired a speech coach to help all the nominees on their speeches and Jean Hamilton helped put my racing heart and fearful mind at ease. I didn’t cry. I made it through the speech and even got applause through out the speech (well, in fairness, my Dad and my Husband were applauded but that’s close enough).
Though I had a wonderful support network there to celebrate Bramble Berry and everything that our team has accomplished over the years, I was not expecting to win. In fact, I had told my entire family that it would be a fun party but that there was “no way” I would win up against such an incredible group of women. When they called my name, I was shocked. I had been so confident that I would not win that I hadn’t written an acceptance speech (seriously). I managed to speak coherently for a few minutes about how important it was that women continue to help women through mentoring and collaboration, thanking my family and the Bramble Berry team and acknowledging the other incredible women nominated for the Nellie.
And then, I floated off the stage. It was one of the best nights of my life. To have my family and friends all together in one room, celebrating our successes and then to be acknowledged for the hard work that Bramble Berry puts into helping other women achieve their goals was a once in a lifetime, epic evening.
Do you know someone in Washington State who qualifies? Nominate them next year!
Nellie Cashman Award Qualifications.
Nominations are accepted from businesswomen who meet the following criteria:
Nominations are accepted from businesswomen who meet the following criteria:
- Nominee must be a current woman business owner with headquarters in the Puget Sound Area (King, Snohomish, Whatcom, Pierce & Kitsap Counties).
- Nominee must be primarily responsible for the financial performance of her business.
- The business must gross over $1,000,000 and have at least 3 employees.
- The business must have been in operation for at least 5 years.
- Nominee must have greater than 50% equity ownership in her business, unless the company is publicly held. If the company is publicly held, the nominee must be the original founder or purchaser and be actively involved in the company’s day-to-day management.
Learn more about the WBO (Woman Business Owners) and Nelli HERE
same here =)
Oh Joanna, you are SO kind to say all of that. It means so very much to me that you would feel so positively about Bramble Berry (and me) after all of these years. I appreciate all of your support and can't wait to meet you in person one of these days! =)
PS: It was a pleasure and it was easy because it was all the truth!
Oh, Anne Marie, I knew you were going to win!! As I mentioned in the last post about it, it was obvious from the very start when I got the call that in was a no-brainer when I talked about you and how easily the words fell from my lips when I bedazzled your portrait to the Nellies. It was so so easy because you and your company have been doing it the right way since I got into this business over five years ago. I've been working with you since then and you are the strongest, smartest, community oriented person/company around and I am proud to be a customer. =0)
much admiration always,
Congrats on the award! You totally deserve it! And I love the blue dress, you look radiant! 🙂
Congratulations,Anne-Marie. None more deserving than you! That blue dress is awesome.
Fantastic Congratulations, Anne-Marie! And you looked gorgeous in that blue dress!
Lather Lovely says
Congrats Anne-Marie! You Go Girl!
Joyful Heart says
Congratulations! You and Bramble Berry are fab!
Casco Bay Soap Co. says
yay! go Anne Marie! I have said this before…you are such an inspiration!
Wow! Amazing company, amazing woman you are! I agree with someone above that stated, "You have raised the bar". Keep up the fantastic work…..
Congratulations Anne Marie! You were radiant.
I am very, very happy for you. The products that I have purchased from you have been excellent, your Staff has been courteous and helpful and the products that I ordered came promptly. You certainly deserved that Award and I, from Long Island, NY, applaude you. Georgia Browne
Oh my gosh, that brought tears to my eyes…my heart-felt congratulations!!! As the others said, it is well-deserved. 🙂
C.Dawn Witt says
I knew you would win! Congrats!
Congratulations, Anne-Marie for an award well deserved.
I cannot imagine you, with your seeming natural aplomb, being that nervous.
Thanks for all you do for your customers, your community and your employees.
And you looked lovely in your blue amongst all that black!
You are certainly well-derserving of this award as your knowledge, tireless compassion and generosity of spirit serve as a wonderful model for others!!! Your success is an inspiration to other women business owners.
Sandy in Sequim
Congratulations Ann-Marie!! You have worked hard to build your company and to help others achieve their dreams. This award is well-deserved, and will hopefully serve to remind you of how special the rest of us think you are!
Suds to Love says
Wonderful news, congrats on your win and success!
Amy W says
Congratulations! What an amazing achievement! You go, girl!
Lady O says
Donna Maria Coles Johnson says
Congratulations A-M! You look positively glowing. What a well-deserved honor.
Someday I would love to meet you in person, until then, I'll continue to enjoy your successes as a spectator!
You've just raised the bar for all of us, and that's a good thing!
Best wishes for success to everyone here – from teeny tiny hobbyists turning entrepreneurs (me!!) and everyone in the middle!
I would have loved to hear your speech! I, for one, can certainly attest to your amazing support of women business owners and you have certainly helped me (hugely!) achieve what I had only dreamed of! Thank you so much and huge congrats!
I am sure the other nominees were well-deserving but they picked the right person for the honor.
Your success and generosity are inspirational for every woman that would like to run a business now or in the future.
Congratulations!!! Even way out here on the other coast and someone who has never met you … through all your communication I feel like I know you and cheer for you in all your endeavors!
I was at a fair today just as it closed with my kids … there was a new soap maker there .. it was strange seeing soap in the same molds I own. 😉
I had no doubt whatsoever in my mind that you would be the winner!
That is too funny that you were nervous about the speech! Get used to it, Anne-Marie, it will become part of your everyday life!
And even though you might have been tempted to be nervous, you are so full of grace and beauty and life, that I know whatever came out of your mouth was great!
Your Dad and Mom and Chris must have been bustin their buttons! We are too!
I have always wondered if BB is publicly owned; almost tried looking it up recently!
Just wanted to tell you that again.
We are all your cheerleaders!!!!
Yay! It's hard to put into words how happy we are for you!
Yay for you! Congrats!
And BTW, I checked out Mari's website and spent quite a few minutes lost in there myself. 😉 Nice stuff.
Burnt Mill Candles and Soap says
Hardy Girl says
Congratulations on winning the award! You totally deserve it! I am so happy for you 😀