2016 Enterprise Vision Awards - the winners revealed

Winner Caroline Stevenson with sponsor Bartle Hall

Winner Caroline Stevenson with sponsor Bartle Hall - Credit: Archant

The Enterprise Vision Awards, supported by Lancashire Life, recognise fantastic female entrepreneurs

SOME ideas for new business seem barking mad while others are just destined to make you leader of the pack. It’s probably fair to say Michelle Turnbull’s venture fell into both camps.

Michelle returned home to the Lancashire market town of Kirkham when the recession ruined her overseas property business leaving her with virtually nothing. She’d always loved dogs so she enrolled on a grooming course but soon realised that wasn’t her dream job.

‘I’d been walking up and down supermarket aisles for 20 years thinking I could fill a slot on one of the shelves,’ says the irrepressible 54-year-old. ‘For some reason I decided I was going to make muffins for dogs. I baked these cakes with crazy colours and everyone loved the idea.’

She set up Barking Bakery in 2012 but it took a couple of year’s hard work developing the products, known as Woofins. They are based on rye flour combined with Michelle’s secret ingredients. Chocolate is banned because it’s bad for dogs and, while Woofins are treats, they are also meant to be good for your pet. ‘The ingredients are human grade and include yoghurt powder and carob instead of the chocolate,’ she said

Interest in Barking Bakery has exploded to such an extent Michelle employs two bakers, a packager and two telesales staff. Woofins even got a mention recently in The Times. ‘Things are starting to take off,’ she said. ‘We now have orders for 300 to 400 birthday cakes a week from up and down the country plus orders for wedding cakes. Yes, dog wedding cakes! We are also looking at a Christmas range. I know, it’s a crazy idea.

‘We are in numerous pet shops, Booths, online and we are talking to Waitrose and some other big outlets I’m not able to mention at present. I’m not rich yet but I have so much else I want to do with Barking Bakery.’ That includes developing her own ‘virtual dog’ called Spot to promote the brand.

Most Read

‘When we are baking we have queues of dogs at the door waiting for a cake. Owners love the look of them with icing swirls and bones. People are absolutely nuts about giving their dogs a treat.’

The judges at the 2016 Enterprise Vision Awards (known as the EVAs) recognised a good idea when they saw one, naming Michelle and Barking Bakery as the New Business of the Year. ‘I was shocked but highly delighted,’ says Michelle.

The awards, supported by Lancashire Life, were staged at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens, where women from across the region were recognised for their achievements at the annual event, sponsored by NatWest.

Coral Horn, founder of the Pink Link Ladies networking group and organiser of the EVAs, now into its sixth year, said: ‘The EVAs ceremony has surpassed itself once again. This year was the toughest for our esteemed judges, so thanks to everyone who helped at every stage of the judging process. All of our finalists should be over the moon. I want to thank everybody who entered and already plans are underway for 2017.’

On the night, a bumper crowd of more than 600 enjoyed a three-course meal courtesy of Rowley’s and guests were in safe hands thanks to host and compere for the evening, Rebecca Jane, founder of the Lady Detective Agency.

Rebecca Jane said: ‘The atmosphere was quite something, an unforgettable night.’ NatWest’s Heather Waters added: ‘The EVAs showcase the dedication and hard work that each woman has put in their business and we are delighted to celebrate the many achievements and success stories that would otherwise go unrecognised.’

Plans are already underway for the 2017 EVAs.

Roll of honour

Small Business

Gemma Voaden, All Survey Ltd, Oldham

New Business

Michelle Turnbull, Barking Bakery, Kirkham

Retailer of the Year

Julia Eastwood, Artisan Tiles & Interiors, Blackpool

Solo Business

Lisa Jackson, Acorn Marketing, Penrith

Financial Services

Deborah Gambell, Quickserve Business Services, Wirral

Creative Industry

Beverley Wood, BWD Ltd, St Annes

Young Entrepreneur

Caroline Stevenson, Foodinate, Cheadle

Hospitality Industry

Danielle Yates, Montagues, Blackpool

Professional Services

Rachel Horman, Watson Ramsbottom, Blackburn

Training & Coaching

Ami Sekhon, Cheshire Dog School, Warrington

Health & Beauty

Lydia Upjohn, Pinkies Polished Hair & Beauty, Chorley

Internet Industry

Val Dickinson & Dijonn Taylor, Savvy Guest, Manchester

Customer Services

Julie Maughan, Woodhouse Opticians, Blackpool

Inspirational Woman

Joanne Thompson, Millie’s Trust, Stockport

Business Woman of the Year

Victoria Molyneux, Want That Trend, Manchester

Outstanding Achievement

Jacquie Johnston Lynch, Tom Harrison House, Liverpool