Kara Cooper of Mount Vic and Me, will be mentored by one of the most influential business minds in Australia as part of a new scholarship funded by the Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet Office for Women.
Mount Vic and Me is one of 90 businesses across the country to achieve the sponsorship under the fully-funded Inspiring Rare Birds initiative - a world class corporate mentoring program to encourage more female entrepreneurs. The program is funded under the government's Women's Leadership and Development Program.
Ms Cooper said the scholarship announced last week offered a huge shift and refocus opportunity for her small business, particularly after the impact from the bushfires and COVID-19.
The one-on-one mentoring puts a business owners with a high-profile mentor for nine months, to help them through the pandemic and beyond. Among the mentors involved in the program are KPMG partner and board member Corrina Bertram, Asialink CEO Penny Burtt, and City of Melbourne councillor Jackie Watts.
"My business was going gangbusters until the summer of 2019 when it felt like the world ended. A lot of people say it started with Coronavirus, but for us in the Blue Mountains, it started around October with the bushfires and then the floods that followed," she said.
"I'm surviving now by really pushing my online presence, and I was lucky I already had that set up, and really good social media so I can talk to people. I have around 90 stockists in Australia, who are all very supportive, but they are struggling themselves."
"Now, instead of feeling bewildered, I am so excited to be among incredible business women and mentors to move our businesses forward across Australia."
A graphic designer by trade, Ms Cooper started Mount Vic and Me in 2013 creating and selling a range of greeting cards. Now she designs everything from art tea towels to fabrics, cushion covers and wallpaper, in a signature colourful and quirky all-Australian style.
Based from a colourful boutique shop that was once a retro cafe on the highway at Mount Victoria, the quirky Mount Vic and Me is currently open once a month. Her latest collection is at: www.mountvicandme.com.
Of the program Penny Burtt, CEO AsiaLink, recently said: "Supporting women SME owners, entrepreneurs and startups around Australia is the right thing to do and vital for our economic recovery. Women are more vulnerable than men, with women's jobs twice as likely to be under threat due to the pandemic."