Rebecca Bruce, owner of the Dads & Lads Gentlemens Barbers stores in Stratford and New Plymouth, says she was "really pleased" to be the winner of three categories in the Westpac Taranaki Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence awards.
As well as the medium business excellence award, Dads & Lads also received the employer of choice and the brand marketing and technology awards.
Rebecca took her shop managers with her to the interview, which took more than two hours.
"It was really intense, serious stuff.
"They looked at training, my understanding of employment law, our financial records as well as systems and business plans."
Given how close a look the judges gave the nominees, Rebecca says that being one of the three finalists for the supreme business award, won by Hooker Pacific, was a great experience: "Standing on stage with the two other nominees was awe inspiring."
Asked where she got her business acumen from, Rebecca says that she went on many training courses run by Venture Taranaki which "helped a lot".
After opening her New Plymouth store in February 2008, Rebecca extended the business, opening in Stratford, where she lives with her family, in May this year. "People think we are a franchise from Auckland or somewhere, but we aren't. We started in the Taranaki and we all live locally," she says, adding that Stratford was her first choice when looking for where to settle in New Zealand when she and her family moved from Scotland. "I couldn't believe how much local support we got."