Babara a national award finalist

Co-director of Specsavers Victor Harbor Babara Vermeulen was the toast of the membership when she was named as a finalist in a national entrepreneur award.

Although she didn’t walk away with the prize, Babara, the mother of 14-month-old Jacob, was a finalist in the Rising Star category of the national Ausmumpreneur awards.

Peace Mitchell from Ausmumpreneur said the awards, which have been presented since 2009, had attracted a record number of entries – 1893 – across the 30 categories.

She believed the increase in entries was a sign that more women were choosing to leave the traditional workforce and operate their own businesses as they were seeking more family time, creative time and the ability to work their own hours.

Ms Vermeulen was nominated for the award by her husband, Craig Hood.

To be considered for the award a three-page application had to be completed including details of the business, including the finances, plus information about Ms Vermeulen’s background.

South African-born, Ms Vermeulen spent two years in the UK where she met her husband of 12 years who happens to be a New Zealand native.

She studied a Bachelor of Science and Optometry degrees at the University of Auckland and is also a qualified optical dispenser.

She has been practising as an optometrist for six years, but has been in the optical industry for 13.

Three years ago she met South Coast local and now fellow network member Louise Twikler who was working locally in the optical industry and together they decided they’d like to open a Specsavers in Victor Harbor.  At the time Ms Vermeulen was working for Specsavers at Mount Barker where she was mentored through the company’s Pathway course by Michael Simpson.  She has also been grateful for support from Adelaide-based business mentor Paul Vinton.

Specsavers has continued to grow in popularity in Victor Harbor, but Ms Vermeulen isn’t resting on her laurels.

“We are moving into the health sector more as we want to make people more aware of the importance of having eye checks,” a clearly passionate Ms Vermeulen said.

An OCT machine has recently been installed to provide 3D imaging of the macula and optic nerves which will assist with better diagnosis and monitoring of issues such as glaucoma and macular degeneration.

Increasingly the business is also aiming to work closely with other health professionals to provide a more complete health care program for clients.

Since the awards were presented in August audiology has been added to the range of services offered at Specsavers.

The Rising Star award recognises a business owner/operator who has been in business for two to five years and who is also a mother.