PALM SPRINGS, Calif., Nov. 14, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- At its annual Ernst & Young Strategic Growth Forum® in Palm Springs, Ernst & Young LLP honored the 11 winners of its 2012 Entrepreneurial Winning Women program. This national competition and executive leadership initiative identifies a select group of women entrepreneurs and connects them with the resources needed to scale their businesses and become market leaders. The winners, who were selected by a distinguished panel of independent judges from a competitive pool of 110 U.S. applicants, come from many different industry sectors, geographies and backgrounds. Combined, the group's total 2011 revenues are nearly $85 million.
The 2012 winners are:
- Allyson Ames | Wonderland Lifestyle Brands (Newport Beach, Calif.): Wonderland Bakery® is a unique destination specializing in delicious desserts and whimsical products that make every day a celebration. A national favorite of families, celebrities and the White House, the brand is expanding beyond baking to include merchandising, media and entertainment properties.
- Emily Armenta | Armenta (Houston, Texas): Armenta is a global luxury brand with roots in high-end designer jewelry. As design innovators, Armenta produces handcrafted jewelry and hardware for exotic skin leather goods. Its manufacturing facility is also home to its school, which trains the next generation of artisans. Armenta sells to the finest retailers in the US and around the world, including Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and Harrods department store.
- Leslie Firtell | Tower Legal Solutions (New York, N.Y.): Tower Legal Solutions is a full-service legal staffing and managed review company that provides experienced legal professionals and e-discovery project management support to law firms and corporations. The company prides itself on unmatched client service, accountability and transparency in the client/candidate relationship which, when combined, enhance project and staffing success.
- Fiona Gathright | Wellness Corporate Solutions, LLC (Cabin John, Md.): Wellness Corporate Solutions (WCS) is a nationwide corporate wellness and biometric screening company committed to providing high-touch wellness programs that reduce healthcare costs. WCS educates, engages and empowers employees with tools and resources to make healthy lifestyle changes. WCS is number 533 on Inc. magazine's list of fastest growing private companies and works with leading Fortune 500 companies.
- Kara Goldin | HINT (San Francisco, Calif.): Launched in 2005, HINT is the maker of the great tasting, no calorie, unsweetened essence waters HINT and HINT FIZZ. HINT does more than hydrate, it's at the heart of a healthy lifestyle and helps consumers vow to Drink Water, Not Sugar®.
- Allison O'Kelly | Mom Corps (Fort Washington, Pa.): Mom Corps is a professional staffing firm that connects employers with a unique pool of 80,000 experienced professionals seeking flexible work. With franchise offices located throughout the U.S., Mom Corps places its candidates in flexible jobs at the nation's leading companies across many functions, including Finance, Marketing, HR, Legal and Strategy.
- Dr. Ellen Stang | ProgenyHealth® (Conshohocken, Pa.): ProgenyHealth® delivers care management solutions to insurers and employer groups, managing the health care services provided to premature infants admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Care for preterm infants in the US costs $26 billion annually. ProgenyHealth's clinically driven program promotes appropriate NICU utilization, improves access to care, educates family members and reduces costs while maintaining the highest quality of care.
- Tammy Tedesco | Edibles Rex Management Services (Detroit, Mich.): Edibles Rex Management Services is a healthy school food service provider, serving more than 10,000 meals per day. Its focus is nutritional, quality, made-from-scratch meals that children love. The company provides the food, delivery and friendly service staff to accommodate federally-guided budgets.
- Michelle Marciniak and Susan Walvius | SHEEX (Irmo, S.C.): Elite athletes and coaches Michelle and Susan co-founded SHEEX after inventing the world's first performance fabric luxury bed sheet. Through innovative product development, SHEEX evolved to create a new category in functional bedding focused on the science of sleep and recovery. SHEEX designs, markets and sells several different brands of performance bedding and sleepwear throughout retail stores nationally.
- Kari Warberg Block | Earth-KindTM (Bismarck, N.D.): Earth-Kind manufactures the first and only EPA-certified natural rodent repellent, FRESH CAB®. With up to 50 percent of the globe affected by rodent issues, this market-transforming product delivers results without risks – it's actually safe enough for humans and pets to eat. The company's customers, like John Deere and Ace Hardware, trust Earth-Kind's innovations to save millions of dollars in rodent damage each year.
Women entrepreneurs play an essential role in creating sustainable economic growth in today's uncertain economy. In fact, women start businesses at twice the rate as men. But, despite robust growth in early stages, women-owned companies don't always scale up to their full potential.
"Our Entrepreneurial Winning Women program helps bridge the gap for an area we call 'the missing middle' – those second-stage women business owners whose companies have emerged from the start-up phase but face a crucial inflection point in their growth journey," said Kerrie MacPherson, Partner and Entrepreneurial Winning Women Executive Sponsor, Ernst & Young LLP. "By providing the right information, networks and guidance, we're able to help these talented women access capital, identify strong business advisors and put the processes in place to radically expand their companies."
Research shows that the Entrepreneurial Winning Women program is paying off in a big way. Revenues of program participants' companies have grown almost 50% each year on average, with a corresponding 25% average annual growth in the number of jobs, according to a recent independent study directed by the Babson College Center for Women's Leadership.
"The Entrepreneurial Winning Women Program has totally changed my definition of 'big' and opened my eyes to the growth potential for our company," said Amy Buckner Chowdhry, CEO, AnswerLab and a 2011 Entrepreneurial Winning Woman. "I'm thinking entirely differently about how we measure being the market leader."
The 11 members of the Entrepreneurial Winning Women Class of 2012 received an all-expense paid trip to this year's Ernst & Young Strategic Growth Forum® 2012 in Palm Springs, an invitation-only gathering of more than 2,000 high-growth, market-leading company CEOs. The Forum presents a one-of-a-kind platform for Entrepreneurial Winning Women to introduce their companies and share their corporate and personal brands with a community of Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year® winners, top executives, prospective investors and business advisors.
The Entrepreneurial Winning Women program is conducted in collaboration with several organizations that encourage the growth of women-owned businesses, including the Women Presidents' Organization (WPO), the Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), The Committee of 200 (C200), the Kauffman Foundation and Babson College's Center for Women's Leadership. For more information on the program, visit www.ey.com/us/entrepreneurialwinningwomen.
About Ernst & Young's Strategic Growth Markets Practice
Ernst & Young LLP's Strategic Growth Markets (SGM) practice guides leading high-growth companies. Our multi-disciplinary team of elite professionals provides perspective and advice to help our clients accelerate the path to market leadership. SGM delivers assurance, tax, transactions and advisory services to thousands of companies spanning all industries. Ernst & Young is the undisputed leader in taking companies public, advising key government agencies on the issues impacting high-growth companies and convening the experts who shape the business climate. For more information, please visit us at www.ey.com/us/strategicgrowthmarkets, or follow news on Twitter at EY_Growth.
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SOURCE Ernst & Young LLP