An Indigenous-owned Dubbo business has been announced as one of the NSW winners of Telstra's 2023 Best of Business Awards.
Skincare company Native Secrets took home the award for Building Communities which recognises businesses working to make a positive impact on culture and society so people from all walks of life can thrive as part of a supportive community.
"It's pretty overwhelming and it's just nice to be acknowledged for all our hard work. To be recognised on such a level is a real privilege, it's not something we take lightly," Phil Thompson, co-founder of Native Secrets said.
"It was totally unexpected - we were up against some serious company. I don't even think it's sunk in yet the magnitude of winning an award like this. It's a bizarre feeling."
Founded by Mr Thompson and wife Cherie Thompson in 2014, Native Secrets manufactures and sells natural skin care products and essential oils. The business extracts bioactive ingredients from Australian native fauna and transforms them into natural skincare products.
Native Secrets won the Building Communities award for their positive impacts on the environment, job creation and creating a culturally safe space for peer-to-peer learning.
"It's great recognition for our brand, but behind the scenes we're working with UNSW and the Australian Graduation School of Management (AGSM), and I think this is what got us over the line," Mr Thompson said.
"MBA students are actually coming out to Dubbo twice a year to work with Indigenous businesses locally to grow their capacity at the same time as we grow.
"That's the attitude we've taken - we want to role model good business and at the same time build the capacity of the whole community."
Through a cultural education program initiated by Native Secrets, all final year MBA students from AGSM undertake a program which sees them visit Dubbo to work alongside Indigenous-owned small businesses to help strengthen their management skills.
Ms Thompson said the program came about while she was a student at the AGSM herself.
"There's a lot of talk in the media about businesses making reconciliation action plans and what this means for what businesses are doing to support Indigenous people and businesses," Ms Thompson said.
"Phil and I are really passionate about that and we are always trying to push Indigenous perspectives in every way that we can. So AGSM came on board and we've been working on the cultural immersion program for quite some time and were able to implement it late last year."
Across Australia, more than 20,000 small and medium sized businesses were nominated for the Telstra Best of Business Awards in 2023.
To decide the winners, judges looked at strategy and vision, customers and marketing, operations, people and culture, innovation and technology, social responsibility, and financial acumen.
"To be recognised as a state winner in the Telstra Best of Business Awards is an incredible achievement, and we hope this provides each business with a well-deserved moment of celebration for the amazing work they are doing in their community," Telstra Retail and Regional Executive, Amanda Hutton said.
Native Secrets will now join all the other state winners on Wednesday, 22 March, where they'll pitch their business to a panel of judges from all across Australia.
They will also have the opportunity to attend masterclasses and network with past winners and prominent business figures.
The national event will wrap-up on Thursday, 23 March with the 2023 Telstra Best of Business Awards National Gala dinner.
"We'll be heading to Melbourne - to be honest, our story stays the same wherever we go, we're very authentic and genuine in what we do and are just trying to build capacity in our community and make it a better place," Mr Thompson said.
"The power of these events are the networks that you can create. You never know where it's going to take you or who you're going to be introduced to."
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