At Penny Miller, we love to see people grow into greatness in their careers, especially within the Penny Miller Community. We’ve had many successful members shoot up from the grassroots level, like Dawn and Deborah in Sydney’s west (whose stories you can read here and here). When we see how quickly our members are growing into success in their careers, it’s both humbling and inspiring to remember that some of Australia’s most successful women started their careers from grassroots and built their success from the ground up. Names as prominent as Rebel Wilson and Michelle Bridges, as well as others you might not have heard of, have self-made their success, not relying on handouts or good luck, but proactively growing from ground level. We look to these women to inspire us with the will to keep growing, aspiring and thriving as we build empowered communities Australia-wide. Read some of their stories here and follow our Mums in Spotlight series to learn more about inspiring Aussie women balancing motherhood with personal and professional success.
1. Michelle Bridges
In an interview with BRW about her success, Michelle Bridges is quoted as saying: “Seriously, I’m not living in the Bahamas with my own yacht, trust me that ain’t happening. I’m still out there doing the grind, getting out there, hands on, grassroots, keeping it real. We have a great team and it’s all situation normal, with our heads down and butts up.”
One of Australia’s best known faces, Michelle Bridges started her fitness empire young, apparently offering fitness training to unmotivated students at her high school who “hung around smoking cigarettes”.
Now, her work on Channel 10’s The Biggest Loser, her 12 Week Body Transformation Program, as well as her books, DVDs, nutrition range and clothing line have taken her from Nelson Bay’s most motivated student to one of Australia’s wealthiest women. Not only is Michelle super motivated, but it’s her work’s mission to motivate the rest of us – thanks Michelle!
2. Rebel Wilson
Who would guess that it was hallucinations caused by malaria that would propel Rebel to pursue a career in acting? While on a trip in Mozambique, Rebel became infected with the disease and apparently had a vision of herself winning an Oscar award. “I know it sounds stupid, but it was so real and I just knew then it would happen,” she said in an interview with Elle UK magazine.
Prior to Hollywood fame, Rebel grew up in the humble Sydney suburbs of Kenthurst, Parramatta and Castle Hill, but her parents’ work selling pet supplies from a caravan allowed the family to travel around Australia.
Well, Rebel, it looks like the malaria is going to be right, after all.
3. Jodie Fox
At just 32 years of age, Jodie Fox has, inspiringly, already squeezed in three career changes. She’s hopped from finance law to advertising and landed with two feet firmly on the ground as head of the immensely popular design-your-own customised shoe brand Shoes of Prey.
While you might not have heard of Jodie or Shoes of Prey, this young entrepreneur has recently partnered with David Jones to bring to life her dream of creating comfortable, stylish shoes to women of all shoe shapes and sizes. Jodie says she’s passionate about triggering that rush of child-like joy in people and believes the future of retail “is going to start with on-demand manufacturing and end with having the courage to imagine the best solution possible, rather than stick with what’s possible right now.”
4. Katherine Sabbath
If you have an Instagram account and haven’t followed Katherine Sabbath, you might want to rethink your game plan. This woman is a self-made, self-proclaimed, Instagram-winning, cake-baking queen!
Without having studied in the field of baking or photography, Katherine has become such an Instagram sensation that she has had to give up her day job (high school teaching) to keep up with the constant collaborations and workshops associated with her cake making and photographing success on Instagram. Now, with more than 148,000 followers, Katherine says she’s not interested in baking cakes to order, but will stick with running workshops and sharing her creative inspiration online. This is one account you won’t regret following when the next kids’ birthday party rolls around.
5. Carolyn Creswell
Another dynamo of the food industry, Carolyn is long-time owner of Carman’s Fine Foods. At age 18 Carolyn scraped together $1,000 to buy out her employer, a small business that made home-made muesli for cafes and delis around Melbourne. In the following 22 years, Carolyn has managed to grow the business into a multinational corporation and develop the brand into a trusted household name. All this while raising four young children, winning multiple acclaimed business awards, being a board member of Stephanie Alexander’s Kitchen Garden Foundation as well as the Board of Human Rights Legal Centre and being an ambassador for both the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre and Smiling Mind.
Award winning businesswoman, devoted mum and vocal asylum seeker advocate – that’s what we call success!
6. Gail Kelly
Gail Kelly made waves in the banking industry throughout the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s as she reached, and then smashed, the glass ceiling in Australian corporate banking after moving here in 1997 to escape political turmoil in South Africa. By 2002, Gail was CEO at St. George Bank and in 2008 she became CEO of Westpac. Gail’s top tips for life and business, as told to the Sydney Morning Herald last year, are:
- Choose to be positive;
- Do what you love, love what you do;
- Be bold, dig deep;
- Get the right people on the bus and the wrong people off;
- Have a vision;
- Believe in generosity of spirit;
- Live a whole life.
7. (and bonus #8) Julie and Sali Stevanja
These fitness-frenzied twins have taken the meaning of “seize the day” to a new level. Not only do they fit in daily workouts around their busy work/family schedules, but when these girls spotted a gap in the active wear market, they seized that too.
In 2012, the Stevanja girls launched their e-commerce hub of curated active wear with 11 brands up for grabs to the public. Now, Stylerunner stocks 50 international brands including Nike, Adidas by Stella McCartney, and Lululemon. Go girls!
Don’t forget to follow our Mums in Spotlight series to learn more about inspiring Australian women balancing motherhood with personal and professional success.