February 29, 2008
The Precious Awards 2007
sponsored by Pearson PLC.
Review by Precious Founder & Editor
For such a long time I had been wondering how Precious could commemorate the achievements of women of colour entrepreneurs.
Of course the Precious profiles of inspiring women had been an integral part of the site since we launched, but now I felt that an event was needed that truly celebrated and applauded these inspirational women.
I meet so many fantastic hard working businesswomen in the course of my role as founder of Precious, these unsung heroines that just get on with the day to day challenges of running their businesses and don't chase accolades. I wanted to commemorate their work in an event that truly focused on their achievements.
So we set about planning the inaugural Precious Awards. We announced the call for nominations, set about spreading the word and began the search for sponsors that we wanted to work with.
We were as pleased as punch to get Pearson PLC on board as our headline sponsor. They too recognised the vital contribution that female entrepreneurs of colour make to UK plc and were as dedicated as we were to making the event a success.
We were also beyond thrilled to discover that Pearson had chosen the event suite on the 10th floor of Pearson Plc, 80 Strand for the ceremony. With simply stunning panoramic views of London, it truly set the scene for a momentous night.
November 12: awards night. As well as celebrating the endeavours of some truly
Precious women, it was also my birthday! - but there was absolutely no pressure! I was also chuffed to have the most precious women in my life by my side on the night: my mum and my sister.
(Image left: Foluke, mum and sister). After a brief welcome from yours truly, our hosts for the evening Rasheed Ogunlaru, the Precious business and lifestyle coach, and Jobeda Ali, an inspirational entrepreneur with her hand in so many, many pies, officially opened the awards. Both of them do so much to support entrepreneurs and it was a real honour to have this gifted double act present the event.
The first award of the night was Best Start-Up, which went to the fabulous La Diosa. The two founders, Natasha Faith and Semhal Zemikael, produce utterly stunning and unique jewellery. As the girls took to the stage to receive their award from Deborah Sawyer, Executive Director of category sponsor Talawa Theatre, they seemed genuinely stunned at their win. (Image below: LaDiosa receiving Award from Deborah Sawyerr - Executive Director, Talawa)
Next up was the award for Best Social Enterprise. Allison Ogden-Newton, chief executive of Social Enterprise London, announced the winner, which was Debbie Ariyo who founded Afruca, a charity that works to stop abuse against African children. Instead of absorbing the applause that she fully deserved, Debbie took the opportunity to make an appeal for more people to support the work of Afruca. Totally typical of the kind of social entrepreneur she is.
As an online entrepreneur the next category had a special place in my heart: Best Online Business. Charles Delamain, Commercial Director of online shopping comparison site, Reevoo, the category sponsors, presented the award. Before presenting the award Charles took time out to congratulate all the finalists in the Precious awards and acknowledge the struggle, commitment and dedication that all business must go through. He then announced the winner: Angel Smith who founded Shoe Lagoon, an online paradise of ladies shoes bags and beautiful accessories.
Best Business was up next, and Gabriella Rose, Business Engagement Manager, of The British Library who had sponsored the category, presented this award. Gabriella announced the winner as Jessica Huie of Colorblind Cards. At 17 years old Jessica Huie was pregnant and struggling to get by on benefits. Today she is the founder of an ethnic greetings cards company that trades in beautiful images and inspirational captions. She has an amazing story and a great product.
(Photostrip above : From left to right: A Precious Guest, Nicola Bridget of Pera, Yana Johnson Founder of Yana Cosmetics, Allison Ogden-Newton, Chief Executive, Social Enterprise London, Lisa Newton, Make Your Mark: Young Entrepreneur, Abu Bundu-Kamara, UK Diversity Manager, Pearson Plc. Veronica Jones, Judge, Director, Vjem.)
Lucy Kyle, senior business advisor at CIDA, presented the award for best Creative Business. The award was won by Anita Grant of Anita Grant Ltd. Anita creates simply heavenly natural and holistic beauty products. As she was heavily pregnant Anita was unable to make the trip to the Strand but we made sure that the award was sent to her.
Best Lifestyle Business was next up. Sponsored by Yana Cosmetics and presented by the founder and pioneering businesswoman Yana herself. Charita Jones of Brighton based Momma Cherri's Soul Food Shack. She was obviously a popular choice as a huge cheer went around the room as her name was announced.
We celebrated the Inspiring Leader Within The Workplace Award (sponsored by Pera) next. It was awarded to Samantha Jones who leads and manages an all male team within Lambeth Council. Sam, who had no idea about her nomination or win, was absolutely shocked when she got up to receive her award from Nicola Bridget of Pera.
(Photostrip above : From left to right: Charita Jones - Momma Cherri's Soul Food Shack, winner Best Lifestyle Business, Eyassu Ukbai - finance officer, Afruca, Debbie Ayrio, Founder of Afruca, Winner Best Social Enterprise, Afua Viana - national advocacy officer, Afruca, Deborah Sawyerr - Executive Director, Talawa, Lucy Kyle, senior business advisor at CIDA).
It seemed as if the evening had flown by and now there were just two final awards to give out. The first of which was the Make Your Mark: Young Entrepreneur (sponsored by The Make Your Mark campaign). This winner was announced as Lisa Newton of accounting company, Boogles. Lisa made a heartfelt speech about her desire to be an entrepreneur since she was very young and how she had finally achieved her dream. An inspirational young woman indeed. Read Lisa's profile here.
It was now time for the final award of the night. The Precious Entrepreneur of The Year, sponsored by Pearson, which recognises the outstanding achievements of one woman. Just before the announcement, Abu Bundu- Kamara, Head of Diversity at Pearson PLC, called me up to the front. He had discovered that it was my birthday and to my surprise the audience was suddenly led in a refrain of Happy Birthday. Clutching my bottle of champagne I felt overwhelmed with the occasion, - a mixture of pride as well as embarrassment at finding myself centre of attention. I was touched by the warmth and kindness in the room and sat down, excited to hear who our next winner was. Abu announced the winner, it was Jessica Huie. She was shocked as she took to the stage once again to receive her award. As I listened to Jessica make her short and heartfelt speech I remembered how the judges had discussed intently who should win this award. Jessica’s great product and her route to success truly deserved saluting. Image above left: Jessica Huie, read Jessica's profile here.
After Jobeda and Rasheed had thanked the audience for attending, thanked Pearson and all our category sponsors, for their support and sponsorship, it was time to retire for more networking, food and drinks.
The Precious Awards 2007 was a great night!
Fun, inclusive, inspirational, we're getting ready for this year already.
(Photostrip above : From left to right: Khami Alexander- Kaytime Consulting, Rasheed Ogunlaru, Award Judge and Host, Jobeda Ali, Award Judge and Host, Chris Winstanley, Marketing & Communications, Reevoo, Michelle Ogbonna, Latestsale, Finalist, Charles Delamain, Commercial Director, ReevooAngel Smith, Shoe Lagoon, Winner Best Online Business.)
All photographs by: Annaliese Comelab
T: +44 7963840220
The Precious Awards are an opportunity to recognise and celebrate those women of colour in business who have shown determination, creativity, dedication, and, of course, entrepreneurial skills and talent. Here is a full list of the winners...
Best Online Business (sponsored by Reevoo)
Angel Smith - Shoe Lagoon
Best Social Enterprise Business (sponsored by Social Enterprise London)
Debbie Ariyo - Afruca
Best Lifestyle Business (sponsored by Yana Cosmetics)
Charita Jones - Momma Cherri's Soul Food Shack
Best Creative Business (sponsored by CIDA)
Anita Grant - Anita Grant
Best Start Up Business (Sponsored by Talawa)
Natasha Faith & Semhal Zemikael - La Diosa
Inspiring Leader Within The Workplace (sponsored by Pera)
Samantha Jones - Lambeth Council