Media Release, 27 July 2015

Francesca Collections, the creation of a young Hobart jewellery designer whose entrepreneurship has taken her from New York to Moscow, was named tonight the 2015 Telstra Tasmanian Business of the Year.

Hannah Vasicek always loved to design and make jewellery, selling earrings at a local market at 13-years-old and graduating to her own stall at 16 where she offered “Handmade by Hannah” branded pieces at Salamanca Markets.

While completing a science and law degree at university, she launched Francesca Collections in 2011 and won a trip to New York as the 2012 Global Student Entrepreneur for Australia.

She was also selected as a delegate to the G20 Young Entrepreneur Alliance Summits in Moscow in 2013 and Sydney in 2014.

Her elegant collections – comprising about 600 products – are now available online and she has opened a flagship store in Murray Street, Hobart, where she employs 10 staff. Francesca Collections products were also showcased at the Golden Globes’ gifting suite in Hollywood last year.

Overcoming challenges ranging from cash flow to a burglary, Ms Vasicek said: “With each difficulty, I remember that I am gaining more knowledge for my business if large-scale difficulties occur. Continual mentoring from people who have been through such difficulties is a key learning point for me.”

An advocate for young people to start their own businesses, Ms Vasicek said: “I am passionate about telling those people around me that we don't have to go through the conventional avenues of university and graduate positions to do what we love and be successful.”

Now 25, Ms Vasicek’s passion for creating a successful brand was recognised by the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation which chose her to participate in its Accelerator program that mentors first-stage entrepreneurs to jump to the next level.

Other winners of the 2015 Telstra Tasmanian Business Awards named tonight at Hobart's Hotel Grand Chancellor include Montacute Boutique Bunkhouse, a boutique hostel in

Battery Point, home style consultants Shift Property Styling of Derwent Park, Grove-based supplements manufacturer Bioflex Nutrition, and Bridestowe Estate, a world class producer of lavender oil and tourist destination at Nabowla.

Will Irving, Telstra Business Group Managing Director and Telstra Business Awards Ambassador, said: “The five Tasmanian winners are brilliant and inspiring businesses that are being celebrated for innovation, industry leadership, creative use of technology and their contribution to the local economy.

“As a growing business with a great business plan, Francesca Collections is a very worthy Awards winner.

“The Telstra Awards judges were impressed by the depth behind Hannah Vasicek’s market positioning and vision for future growth,” Mr Irving said.

Winners of the 2015 Telstra Tasmanian Business Awards are:

Start-up Award
Montacute Boutique Bunkhouse, Battery Point
Winemaker Antony Langdon and food and beverage marketer Rose Flynn joined forces to open Montacute Boutique Bunkhouse in March 2014, renovating a 120-year-old student sharehouse into a hostel worthy of the description 'boutique.' Offering a luxurious, low-cost place to stay in a great location at Battery Point, it has become the number one hostel in Australia on websites and Describing the owners as very passionate, the Telstra Judges said their business has a great concept and vision and very good marketing and business plans, making it an ideal representation of Tasmania nationally.

Micro Business Award
Shift Property Styling, Derwent Park
Adam and Donielle Luttrell created a business aimed at styling a home to create an emotional response from prospective buyers. The pair believed this crucial element was lacking in Tasmania’s property market so they launched consultancy Shift Property Styling in 2006 to help homeowners achieve premium selling prices. Offering end-to-end property styling and customised looks, they use a large inventory of furniture and accessories. Telstra Judges said it has very clear business objectives, amazing systems and processes in place, a great future vision and a marketing plan based on referrals. They described it as a micro business that thinks like a big business.

Small Business Award
Francesca Collections, Hobart

Medium Business Award
Bioflex Nutrition, Grove
Ben Crowley launched nutritional supplements business Bioflex Nutrition in 2011. It manufactures and distributes online 150 product lines of powders, shakes and capsules that help with health, wellbeing and sports performance. Establishing operations in an area of high unemployment, it has 28 staff, five of whom are African refugees. Charging a flat rate for distribution to ensure customers in regional Australia are not disadvantaged, the business meets an average of 10,000 orders a month. Telstra Judges said the business has huge potential for growth. It has very sophisticated online systems, strong processes and procedures in place, manufactures the products themselves onshore and has great diversity.

Regional Award
Bridestowe Estate, Nabowla
Bridestowe Estate is a world class producer of lavender oil that also attracts 65,000 tourists a year. In 2007 Robert and Jennifer Ravens purchased from corporate owners a lavender farm created in 1921. The Ravens family embarked on a major diversification plan, focusing on developing export markets and demonstrating innovation to drive its success. Its value-added products are widely available domestically and exported throughout Asia, including Japan and China. Telstra Judges said the owners have a great vision for global expansion and marketing, a strong business plan and a sense of community focus. They said the business, in the State’s north-east, was a great business growth story and a good representative for Tasmania nationally.

Telstra Tasmanian Business of the Year
Francesca Collections, Hobart
Winners of the Telstra Tasmanian Business Awards will now proceed to the 2015 Telstra Australian Business Awards that will be announced in Sydney on 20 August.

For more information about the Awards or to nominate for the 2016 Telstra Australian Business Awards, visit or call 1800 AWARDS between 9am and 7pm AEST Monday to Friday. The Awards were established in 1992 to celebrated brilliant Australian small and medium businesses.