NLOWE Awards: From the Beginning to the Red Carpet

It’s hard to believe that, with only one exception, I have been witness to all sixteen of the annual NLOWE Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.

To say that the event has grown over the years is an understatement. The first NLOWE awards were held at a luncheon during Small Business Week in 1998. There may have been 60-70 people in attendance. The presentation of awards was later incorporated into our annual conference, as a celebration of the many business women that had come together and recognition of their successes. Over the years the numbers have grown and the Entrepreneur of the Year Awards became an event in its own right. This year we are honouring the outstanding women entrepreneurs in our province at a glamorous red carpet gala event where nearly 250 people will join in the celebration.

In the beginning it was a challenge to get women to apply for the awards. Some felt that they weren’t worthy or had not accomplished enough. This year we were pleased to have received over 200 nominations. It’s encouraging to see the growth of women owned businesses within our province and, more importantly, to see the confidence of these women grow.

However, through all the years, the one thing that hasn’t changed is the celebration. NLOWE has always strived to celebrate women and their business successes. Many of our award winners have gone on to receive other awards and recognition for their accomplishments.

If you’ve never been to our gala you are missing out! It’s a night full of celebration, laughter and sometimes even a few tears. We as women wear many hats. We are daughters, sisters, mothers, wives, and grandmothers. We juggle schedules, kids, home and work. This year, as in many others, we gather to celebrate women who do it all and have created successful businesses.

Many of you don’t get to see the preparation behind the scenes. It begins months before the event ever happens. We always try to think of bigger and better ways to make the evening more exciting and enjoyable for those in attendance. It is a celebration after all! I can honestly say that even though it’s busy, the office is a buzz of excitement, especially in the days leading up to the event. The anticipation of the night is what drives us to check and double check every detail. After all it takes a lot of work to make an event look flawless…even though sometimes there are little hiccups that no one is aware of.

I am so looking forward to this year. Every year the awards get just a little bit better. I am sure that after the awards have all been given out and the evening has ended, I will say, “That was the best awards ever! How are we ever going to top tonight!” But somehow, it happens. Like the extraordinary women of our province it just seems to get better and better.


Judy Raske, Office Manager, has been employed with NLOWE for over 16 years.  You can reach Judy at


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