Celebrating these female-led small businesses on IWD

We interview these proud female regional Queensland small business owners and operators on International Women's Day

To celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD), we spoke to two proud female small business owners and operators, mother and daughter duo, Margaret Keverkis and Lana Roll, respectively.

Lana Roll is the owner and operator of La Belle Bake located in South Gladstone.

“This is such an exciting year to celebrate IWD and we are helping to celebrate by co-sponsoring an IWD regional event in Gladstone”.

Lana is referring to the sold-out event – Women Work Wonders: An International Women’s Day Celebration, which was held last night at Moonbar Moments in Gladstone.

Led by the Gladstone Chamber of Commerce & Industry, the event launched the ‘This Is Us Project’.

The ‘This Is Us Project’ is a portrait photography exhibit, a photo book, and a behind-the-scenes video series that features 30 inspirational Gladstone Region women.

Each participant has shared their stories including their triumphs and achievements, obstacles, and biases they have overcome in their careers, along with their hopes for the future.

These photos and stories have now been compiled into a photobook, which will be donated to all Gladstone Region libraries and high schools in the first half of 2023, with the hopes of inspiring future generations of women in business.

GCCI Vice President Alison Murdoch said the project was an opportunity to “recognise and celebrate women in business in the Gladstone Region so that their successes are visible and normalised”.

Lana said, “it’s great for the young women and girls to be able to see local women recognised in their community as leaders, change-makers, and mentors. Although my two daughters are young, I know they’re certainly paying attention!”

Margaret Keverkis is the Operations Manager of EKM Services based in Bundaberg, Queensland.

Margaret has an incredible story: she speaks three languages; migrated to Australia in 1969; is a mum of five children; runs a team of 20 staff; and contracts with 20 businesses. This is Margaret’s perspective.

“The path to our successful cleaning business was hard going.”

I was a female, from a migrant background and had to navigate two cultures – it wasn’t easy to blend all of that together.”

We won the Bundaberg Chambers of Commerce “Professional Services of the Year 2022”. This has given me the motivation to increase our business and widen the range of services we can offer to our clients.”

The cleaning industry is a very heavily male-dominated industry, and the challenge was to overcome some of those barriers.”

I had to learn the right language, speak the lingo, and learn how not to make anyone feel intimidated – men and women. I think intimidation can go both ways.”

Now, when I’m dealing with large contracts, I can talk to them, and they are comfortable talking to me, but that took time.”

If I could talk to my younger self, I would say: don’t be scared; don’t fear the unknown – you’re not going to conquer the unknown unless you try.”

More women need to be where I am. There is no shortage of female representation in the cleaning industry but certainly not enough women in senior-level positions or running a state-wide cleaning and facilities management business!”

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