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Thriving Women: Ambassadors of a new networking group starting in the Illawarra this month meet at The Woolshed. Picture: Greg Ellis.

Thriving Women: Ambassadors of a new networking group starting in the Illawarra this month meet at The Woolshed. Picture: Greg Ellis.

Thriving Women is a new network for Illawarra business people to share tips and strategies they have learned to help grow local business.

Starting this month there will be 10 events plus a Christmas party each year at The Woolshed where the inaugural event is being held on February 22 and the second on March 23.

Founder Isha Knill said the idea was to start a networking opportunity that was very raw allowing business people to help each other in a supportive environment.

Special guest for the night is Karen Meiring de Gonzalez, of Skin Correctives.

“I am interviewing Karen on the night,” Ms Knill said.

“We don’t have guest speakers as such. We are interviewing local business people in a very intimate format. It is going to be very raw. I saw an opportunity to do something else to help people with their learning. It came to me while I was chatting to Karen one day. I wanted it to be very different. I wanted it to be about local business people. This is very much about education..and skills building. And we will be doing what I call funky networking.”

Ms Knill described the Illawarra was a great networking community. And that is something she really values. She said it was so important when she lived and worked in Zimbabwe.

“It just became a known thing among all of us that we had to support each other. Instead of being competitors we were very cooperative. We all showed each other our business ideas. We were very open. When you learn to cooperate with each other it creates a lot of energy. I really have seen the success of that because in Zimbabwe our businesses grew really well because we were so good at supporting each other. And that is what Thriving Women is about. It is about using the knowledge of the local community. If we support our local community…people don’t have to leave to find opportunities elsewhere.”   

Ms Knill thinks Mrs Meiring de Gonzalez will be the perfect first guest. “I know how good Karen’s knowledge is and I want to bring that out. People like Karen are real gems who are very passionate about supporting their community which is what Thriving Women is about.”

If we support our local community..people don’t have to leave to find opportunities – Isha Knill

Mrs Meiring de Gonzalez said she felt very excited and honoured. She said he goal has always been to be the best businesswoman she can be. “I have learned a lot along the way and relied on a lot of mentors..who have helped me and shared all their inspiring tips. If I can give back and perhaps help make other people’s path just a little bit shorter..that will be lovely”.

Ms Knill said Virginia Wren, of Illawarra ITeC, and social media and online marketing expert Kellie O’Brien were both instrumental in helping her from the beginning. Mrs O’Brien said having moved to Wollongong from another state in 2015 she knew how helpful it was to find a network of people who are willing to support each other.

“I think networking is so valuable to everyone including those new to the area,” Ms Knill said.

A list of speakers is already lined up for the first six months but July’s special guest is a surprise and is being kept a closely guarded secret.

Ms Knill said the networking group was called Thriving Women but men were very welcome.

Chef Greg Spain is the first. He said he wasted no time coming on board as a sponsor because “The Woolshed is about community”.

Ms Knill said she chose The Woolshed because it was a central location for people from Wollongong, Shellharbour and Kiama.

Thriving Women will also support local charities by putting a spotlight on them and collecting donations through ticket sales and event bookings. Care & Share for Autism will be the recipient of the first event. Further information at thrivingwomen.com.au.

A meeting of ambassadors was held at The Woolshed on Tuesday to plan the first event. They are all the inaugural sponsors and Ms Knill said their early support was fantastic.

Thriving Women is for businesswomen to:

  • Network to grow their business
  • Learn how to grow their business in an increasingly challenging business environment
  • Learn tips and strategies to grow themselves so they are well equipped to support their family whilst they build their business
  • Take a holistic approach to their life and their business
  • Feel safe and supported knowing they have a network of women who have got their back
  • Be educated and supported in a caring environment invested in them and their future
  • Gain local business knowledge and learn from the ‘Business Elders’ in our community
  • Engage their passion for supporting local business and local people
  • Gain confidence with their networking skills
  • Network in a fun engaging way that adds value to them and their business

VIP Sponsors helping Thriving Women get started:

  • Karen Meiring de Gonzalez – Skin Correctives
  • Kellie O’Brien – Kellie O’Brien Media
  • Greg Spain – Finespun @ The Woolshed
  • Cath Andrews – Lotus Wellbeing Centre
  • Catriona Jones, Area Manager representing Susan Ang The Eyestore
  • Alex Simoes and Nikayla Tolhopf – Inunison Financial Advice
  • Virginia Wren – The Illawarra ITeC
  • Dr Maria Zuschmann – Inner Edge Wellness
  • Caitlin and Diana Foye from Foye Legal
  • Jennifer and Brad Ratcliffe – Ratpack Creations
  • Debbie Reali – DBR Photography
  • Vanessa and Ned Jeffries – Positive Health Clinics Australia
  • Isha Knill – Isha Knill Pty Ltd (

2017 Thriving Women event dates

  • Inaugural Event 22nd February 2017
  • 23rd March
  • 27th April
  • 18th May
  • 22nd June
  • 20th July
  • 17th August
  • 21st September
  • 19th October
  • 16th November
  • 7th December – Christmas Party – different format from usual events

All Thriving Women events are at The Woolshed from 6.30 – 8.30pm.