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‘A wonderful recognition of what female business owners are doing’: Jill Curran, winner of the NLOWE 2018 Entrepreneurial Excellence Award
Women entrepreneurs were honoured Thursday evening at the Newfoundland and Labrador Organization of Women Entrepreneurs’ (NLOWE) 21st annual Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.
Arguably the most coveted of the evening was the Entrepreneurial Excellence Award.
It went to Jill Curran, owner of Lighthouse Picnics in Ferryland and president of Maxxim Vacations in St. John’s.
It was only 15 years ago in 2003 when Curran started her first company, Lighthouse Picnics. Seven years later, she bought Maxxim Vacations — one of the country’s leading tour operators.
Curran said winning the award was an “unexpected, but lovely, surprise.”
She said both her businesses are about promoting Newfoundland and Labrador culture and hospitality — something she’s passionate about.
When she founded Lighthouse Picnics with a friend, it was just the two of them running the business for the first year. Today, between both businesses, Curran employs 20 people.
“I think the secret to what we’ve been able to achieve is never thinking that we’ve got it all figured out,” she told The Telegram.
“I always joke that our guest book and our comments become the to-do list of the following year, because I think when you think you’ve got it all figured out – that is when things start to go wrong.”
Curran said she may be the one receiving the award, but she was accepting it on behalf of everyone she works with – “a group of people that are just as passionate about what they do every day as I am.”
Growing up, she never thought about owning her own business – she said she started it because she wanted to preserve something she loved — the lighthouse in Ferryland.
That’s also her advice to young entrepreneurs:
“You really have to love what you do because when you start a business the hours are very long, and you have to be committed in so many ways to seeing your business grow.”
Curran also recognized NLOWE for the support it provides to women in business.
“Even this award is a wonderful recognition of what female business owners are doing in the community … I think there’s so many more opportunities out there, and NLOWE has certainly laid the groundwork for so many young women to see themselves as a business owner and pursuing that career path.”
Curran was one of six women honoured at the awards, held at the Sheraton Hotel Newfoundland.
The Young Entrepreneur Award went to Megan Sooley of Sooley Designs, known for her must-have, custom-made and form-fitting gowns.
The Trailblazer Award, recognizing an entrepreneur who excels in a non-traditional industry for women, went to Oceans Ltd. owner Judith Bobbitt.
The Trendsetter Award — recognizing an entrepreneur whose business employs innovation and original thinking — went to Charlene Combdon, owner of Rock Solid Diesel in Grand Falls-Windsor.
The Momentum Award recognizes an entrepreneur who has demonstrated significant growth, or growth potential, within a one- to three-year time span. It went to Erin Stapleton, owner of Stapleton Environmental Consulting Inc. in St. John’s.
The Economic Impact Award recognizes an entrepreneur whose business has significantly impacted the local economy. That award went to Jennifer Veitch, owner of Veitch Physiotherapy & Wellness Centre in Corner Brook.