On Wednesday, in the beautiful Esplanade Hotel in Zagreb, the grand finals of the regional competition for the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Award took place. This award is a kind of female business Oscar, and each year it is awarded to successful businesswomen from all over the world.
The award was launched in 1972 in honour of Madame Clicquot, an exceptional French businesswoman who was filled with courage and entrepreneurial spirit. Her personal and business story is quite impressive. Madame Clicquot married successful champagne maker François Clicquot, and when he died at age 27 and she became a widow, she firmly took over control of the business and became the first woman to head a company. She demonstrated her winning spirit in 1810 when she produced the first vintage wine in the Champagne region.
Six candidates were in contention for the title of the regional winner of the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Award, including Nataša Milanović and Svetlana Popović from Serbia, and Dejana Ponoš from Montenegro. Croatian candidates were Mirjana Brlečić, a Master of Pharmacy, innovator, managing director and owner of the Priroda Liječi (Nature Heals) company, with her Nikel cosmetics which are free from unnecessary supplements. She founded her company in 1998. Her line of exceptional cosmetic products Nikel won over fans of natural cosmetics and also brought her 40 gold medals at prestigious international exhibitions of innovative products in the United States, Great Britain, Asia, Russia and the European Union.
Another Croatian candidate was Anja Zambelli Čolak, a designer and blogger who studied at the most prestigious design schools in Milan, Istituto Europeo di Design and Domus Academy. She has a Master of Business Design. During her stay in Milan, she worked for clients such as Unilever, 3M and Pininfarina. After returning to her hometown Rijeka, she founded Zambelli Brand Design, a design studio which creates visual identity of brands. Some of its projects, such as Surf 'n' Fries packaging, have been recognised globally and are included in publications such as “Take Me Away, Please”, where Anja Zambelli Čolak's works were selected as the world's best packaging solutions. It is also interesting to note that, as a woman, she is the principal designer of the visual identity of the Rijeka Football Club and is also the author of KISHA, the first smart umbrella in the world which combines functionality, new technologies, fashion and current trends.
In the end, the prestigious award was won by Urška Šefman Sojer from Slovenia. The decision was made by a jury chaired by Anna Wlodarz, managing director of Moët Hennessy, and members Ajša Vodnik, executive director of AmCham in Slovenia; Svjetlana Krčo, a co-founder and financial director of DunavNET from Serbia; Marina Banović Džuver, an established fashion designer from Montenegro; and Tomislav Popović, managing director of Maistra from Croatia.
Urška Šefman Sojer was presented with the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Award for Central Europe, and in June next year, she will travel to France to take part in the Business Woman Award Forum, which will feature all the winners of this year's competitions from all over the world.
There are many reasons why Urška Šefman Sojer, a co-founder and creative director of the well-known Zvezda confectionery chain based in Ljubljana, won this prestigious title. She is a woman who brought Slovenia's confectionery sector to a whole new level. Due to her efforts, dedication and inexhaustible energy, she is an inspiration to many. Thanks to her devoted work in the past 18 years, with her innovative ideas and a unique approach to business, Urška is an influential trendsetter and a role model for running businesses.
The star of the evening was the exceptional Veuve Clicquot champagne, which was served to the guests who were entertained by outstanding singer Marko Tolja.