Brisbane’s booming female-led businesses

Women mean business – support Queensland Small Business Month in May, taking inspiration from Brisbane’s female entrepreneurs.

Starting a business during the pandemic might not seem an auspicious beginning, however Elyse Nayler has seen her fledgling physiotherapy practice thrive over the past 18 months.

SportsPlus Physio is now a team of 10, including four physiotherapists, and works with some of Queensland’s top female sporting teams, including Brisbane Roar Women FC, Brisbane Lions AFLW, Gold Coast Suns AFLW and Queensland Firebirds.

Along with co-director Will Thwaite, Elyse is passionate about advancing women in sport and established the practice to help reduce the injury rate of top female athletes.

“I grew up playing sport and our family always had a ‘give it a go’ ethos,” Elyse says.

“We kept the business afloat after the initial start-up due to personal connections – we were not afraid to spruik ourselves and have the skills and passion to back it up.

“I have been lucky to surround myself with like-minded people and have attracted a client base of female athletes, which aligns with my interests.”

SportsPlus Physio is one of 54 female-led enterprises recognised in the Lord Mayor’s Women in Business Grant, which was created to provide funding to female business owners impacted by COVID-19 to grow and develop their small businesses.

Each business received a share of $250,000, and Elyse will use the funds to update equipment, upskill in the latest treatment methods and provide mobile and on-field rehabilitation services.

Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner says more than 80 per cent of the grant’s recipients were Brisbane-based businesses wholly owned by women.

“At the moment, women are behind 35 per cent of our small businesses and we want to see that number improve, which is why we introduced this new grant,“ Cr Schrinner says.

“However, there are many success stories of women starting businesses out there and these grants are a way of helping them grow.

“Women business owners are integral to the ongoing success of our city’s economy and as we continue to recover from the global coronavirus pandemic, these grants will provide a much-needed boost.”

Twins Melanie and Georgia Klinakis of Baked by M&G are also benefitting from the sweet relief provided by the Lord Mayor’s Women in Business Grant.

The duo swapped their respective marketing and accounting jobs to launch a cookie-cutter career from their parent’s house, inspired by their yia-yia’s Greek sweets and recipes to launch a family baking business and realise a childhood dream of working together.

“The Women in Business Grant has allowed Baked by M&G to sign the lease on a commercial kitchen, which will mean Mum gets her kitchen back,” Georgia laughs.

“The funding will also assist to smooth out our online process and launch new items, including dessert boxes, custom cakes and sugar cookies with messaging options.”

Sisters and ocularists Jennifer Hebel and Annette Watts are similarly delighted to receive grant funding to help shape Artificial Eyes, their handcrafted prosthetic eye practice.

Only 12 people in Australia are skilled in this highly qualified profession, and the Lord Mayor’s Women in Business Grant will allow Artificial Eyes to purchase niche products that enable the safe and quality construction of natural-looking, custom prosthetics.

“Our clients visit us from throughout Queensland and Australia – they are delighted to visit our beautiful city to receive their new eye or eye care – however, we often travel to rural regions to provide our specialised service when our clients are unable to travel.”

“We want our clients to feel confident, comfortable and complete,” Jennifer says.

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Birds on Bikes is another example of women inspired to use their skills to make a difference.

Frustrated by a lack of sizing options for female cyclists, Barbara Spooner decided to make her own cycling kit, launching the first Birds on Bikes range in 2017.

The Australian-made brand has seen a 50 per cent increase in annual sales every year with a dedicated following across Australasia, and now Barbara has her sights set on taking Birds on Bikes into international markets.

“I will use the Lord Mayor’s Women in Business Grant to purchase new machinery to develop products and experiment with new ranges without having to go through a manufacturer,” Barbara says.

“I would like to introduce a lifestyle range that women can throw on before and after a ride to tap into ‘coffee cyclist culture’ and continue creating cycling apparel designed for the female figure for all body types.”

Stones Corner Flower Shop is another business to bloom with support from the Lord Mayor’s Women in Business Grant.

From a “family of green thumbs”, Lynette Johnson established her floristry business in 2016 after working in humanitarian aid overseas and follows ethical and sustainable practices.

While COVID-19 disruptions shifted the floristry operations from a brick-and-mortar store to an online home studio, Lynette continues her journey towards eco-floristry with fresh, Australian flowers, sourcing stems from local growers to support fellow small businesses.

“The grant provides the funding to put the existing plans in place for an online revamp and enable Stones Corner Flower Shop to continue to grow,” she says.

Find out more about the Lord Mayor’s Women in Business Grant via the website.

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