The entrepreneurial talent of The North was on magnificent display last night (Thursday) as they came together at Old Trafford in Manchester to celebrate their success at the third regional gala final of the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards.
Now in its sixth year, the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards celebrates the hard work and inspiring stories of entrepreneurs in the UK.
Mirroring the success of Hannah & Sophie Pycroft from Spectrum Collections in 2017, sisters Christine & Jenny Chau, founders of Charley Chau, first won the Family Business Entrepreneur of the Year award, before capping off a fantastic night with the overall Great British Entrepreneur of the Year award for the region.
In 2010, Christine and Jenny were inspired by their five Italian greyhounds to create a range of cosy, stylish and practical beds for dogs. The pair started by posting about what is now their signature Charley Chau Snuggle Bed on Facebook, which left them inundated with requests. What began as a “quirky little hobby” in their spare time is now a rapidly growing business with products selling in 20 countries around the world.
Francesca James, co-founder of the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards, said: “As a dog lover myself, I can fully appreciate both the inspiration and practicality behind Charley Chau.
“But what is really special about Christine and Jenny is that they’ve taken the close bond they share as sisters and applied it to running a business, and haven’t been content with keeping their little hobby business. They’ve shown the drive and determination to take a great idea and really make something of it. They’re fully deserving of both awards.”
Serial entrepreneur and GBEA Ambassador, Helene Panzarino, who judged the application, said: “A passion combined with fantastic business skills and a personal and professional awareness illustrated by Christine and Jenny mean this business is going from strength to strength. Their focus and enthusiasm literally jumped off the page.”
Winners were crowned across 12 categories in total including Family Business, Entrepreneurs’ Team and Entrepreneurial Spirit.
Francesca James added: “2018 has been a record year for the Great British Entrepreneur Awards in the number of entries we received. But the quality of applications has been above and beyond what we’ve seen in previous years.
“Just getting to the gala final as a finalist is a huge achievement given the competition on show, so to walk away with a trophy in your hand deserves huge congratulations.”
Gordon Merrylees, Head of Entrepreneurship for NatWest, said: “We are incredibly proud to support these important awards again in 2018. The number and calibre of entries this year proves that entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in the Midlands.
“I want to extend my huge congratulations to all the winners, and hope that their businesses continue to grow in the future.”
Full list of winners:
Creative Industries Entrepreneur of the Year | Carole Laine, Cats Pyjamas Productions
Entrepreneur for Good Award | Julie Anne Parker, Million Stars Sustainable Events
Entrepreneurial Spirit Award | Sally Fielding, Sally’s Cottages
Entrepreneurs’ Champion of the Year | Maggie O’Carroll, The Women’s Organisation
Entrepreneurs’ Team of the Year | Steven Rawlingson, Samuel Knight International
Family Business Entrepreneur of the Year | Christine & Jenny Chau, Charley Chau
Innovation Entrepreneur of the Year | Louis-James Davis, VST Enterprises
Scale-Up Entrepreneur of the Year | Paul Rothwell, Empire Property Concepts
Service Industries Entrepreneur of the Year | Jackie Mulligan, ShopAppy
Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year | Kenny Macfarlane, Handrail Creations
Start-Up Entrepreneur of the Year | Carley Jones, Kettlebell Kitchen
Young Entrepreneur of the Year | Robert Byrne, Franklin Energy
Great British Entrepreneur of the Year | Christine & Jenny Chau, Charley Chau