STORY BY GREG ELLIS, ILLAWARRA MERCURY, 30 JULY 2019

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Meet Illawarra's fab four national AusMumpreneur finalists who will represent the region in Melbourne

National AusMumpreneur finalists:Lisa Burling, Jessica Arroyo, Lauren Buhagier and Amanda Barr prepare to fly the Illawarra flag at the AusMumpreneur of the Year Awards in Melbourne: Picture: Greg Ellis.Four Illawarra businesswomen are among the national finalists for AusMumpreneur of the Year Awards in Melbourne.

Following her success in 2018 when she finished third Lisa Burling, of LBPR, is back in the running in Rising Star Entrepreneur of the Year category for exceptional business owners who have been in business for two to five years.

IWIB Business Woman of the Year Lauren Buhagier, of Active Property Conveyancing, and Amanda Barr, of Dance Sensations, are national finalists for the title of AusMumpreneur of the Year which recognises exceptional business owners who have been in business for more than five years.

And a year after contesting the Rising Star category with Ms Burling Warrawong business owner Jessica Arroyo, of Weigh Less with Jess, has been chosen as a national finalist in the Health & Wellbeing Business Award category recognising outstanding results in all areas including creativity, innovation and resilience.

Mrs Barr has not entered many awards before but was named Business Person of the Year at the 2018 Illawarra & South Coast Local Business Awards.

"Dance Sensations is in Shellharbour Village where we have just under 800 kids who come weekly. We have been going 19 years, have 25 staff and are one of the biggest dance studios in Australia".

Ms Burling said it was wonderful attending the awards last year because "I was exposed to all these women who were facing similar challenges but were kicking serious goals".

"So the inspiration I got from being there and the motivation I got from being in a room full of mums doing well professionally was phenomenal," she said.

"An then to be recognised gave me the shot in the arm to write my book Dream A Little Dream. The experience gave me a lot of confidence. And I am really thrilled I will be down there again this year with some other ladies who I admire and respect from Wollongong".

Mr Buhagier said was keen to be involved after watching Ms Burling and Ms Arroyo as finalists in 2018. She said it was great Wollongong businesses were being recognised nationally.

And Ms Arroyo said after such a wonderful experience last year she was thrilled to make the finals of the AusMumpreneur of the Year Awards again.

"I am lucky enough to be nominated as a finalist for Health & Wellbeing Business Award which is pretty exciting. I didn't even go for that award I actually went for Change the World," she said.

"The opportunity to network last year was so fabulous and I got to know Lisa. It has been a really good opportunity to learn about other businesses and learn about the extent women go to to follow their passion".

Ms Arroyo and Ms Burling said they made so many connections 12 months ago and had stayed in contact with them ever since.

"I am just about to open up a store in Wentworth Street, Port Kembla and we are going to provide an additional service of one-on-one consultations," she said.
LBPR