A former Dunedin woman says she is "overwhelmed" and "excited" to be named young Australian businesswoman of the year.

Anna Ross, originally of Mornington, received the award for her company Kester Black which produces ethically made, vegan and cruelty-free nail polishes and skin care.

The Otago Polytechnic bachelor of design (fashion) graduate (2008) said she never expected her business to go far when she started it in 2012.

"I wanted to colour silver jewellery and you have to do that using enamel paint and I thought it would be cool to make some nail polishes to go with the rings.


"Within three months we tripled our turnover so I stopped doing jewellery and started doing nail polish."

Four years on, the brand which creates products for consumers marginalised by the mainstream beauty industry was stocked in the United States, Malaysia, Japan and Australia, she said.

The nail polish was water permeable and was particularly popular with Muslim women who often did not wear normal nail polish because of the washing involved in daily prayers.

"Women love to dress in a certain way, or use make-up to express themselves, and I feel really proud that I have been able to include Muslim women in that who don't often get that option."

Competition for the award, which was part of the longest-running female awards programme in Australia, had been "very strong".

In October she was named young Victorian businesswoman of the year following a 5000-word application, two rounds of judging and a panel interview. The national round was a similar "epic process".

16 Nov, 2016 4:18pm
2 minutes to read

The former St Hilda's Collegiate pupil felt "honoured and lucky" to be a New Zealand alumnus of a significant Australian award.

She planned to use her new title to encourage new businesses to have values within a company that could help rather than hinder a brand.

She had also established financial literacy course "More cents" with young Australian businesswoman of the year finalists to educate year 12 Australian girls about how to be financially savvy.

She planned to expand Kester Black, and hoped to ultimately return to Dunedin.