I started my own business almost 20 years ago at the age of 18. I’m the founder of Carman’s Fine Foods and a proud sponsor of the inaugural Women In Rotary – Womens’ International Day Breakfast 2012: “Martians & Venusians in the Work Place”.

My passion for food started in 1992 when I was a first-year university student. My part-time job was making homemade muesli for a very small business that supplied a few cafes and delis around Melbourne. One day I was told that I was going to lose my job as the business was to be sold. I immediately thought, “You could buy this little business! You love the muesli and you make it already!” My offer of $1,000 was eventually accepted and Carman’s was born. It was a life changing decision. Finishing my degree proved challenging as I made deliveries before morning lectures and balanced the books in the library during lunch breaks!  Sometimes it was hard as a female growing the business and being taken seriously.  But it’s amazing where life can lead you…

A big eye-opener for me was when I had my four children. I had to juggle so much more and change my focus from being predominately about work. It was also around that time that I became involved with a charity called The Lille Fro Foundation. It’s an Australian not-for-profit organisation whose primary focus is to find sponsors for destitute, marginalised and impoverished children living in the remotest corners of the world. Lille Fro also aims to provide them with access to a quality basic education. At present it’s committed to helping children of the Himalayas and their communities by increasing their access to a sustainable livelihood through the development, funding and implementation of long term projects. Rotary has also been very supportive of their work. Lille Fro has been approved as an official project of the Rotary Club of Hawthorn. Other than the benefits of having Rotary’s incredible support behind them, this also means they are able to offer tax deductibility on sponsorship payments.

Being involved and thinking about other things apart from your own life makes it actually so much richer and rewarding. I encourage more women to get involved with Rotary as it’s a wonderful organisation.

Carolyn Creswell and her family are the proud sponsors of Sopa, a 13 year-old boy who lives with his father in highly destitute conditions in a remote village located at high altitude in the Zanskar Valley in Ladakh, India. Wanting to do more to help out Sopa’s community, Carman’s stepped in and sponsored a community greenhouse built at high altitude in the village of Shilla Phu, Zanskar.  Once established, the greenhouse will have the capability to grow fresh vegetables for approximately 8-10 months of the year for the village. This is remarkable given that Sopa’s village is snowed in for approximately 8 months of the year! www.lillefrofoundation.org

Carolyn is a popular guest speaker at Rotary and a generous donor of Carman’s delicious muesli and bars to such events. Through Carman’s Community Sponsorship Program, over 100 different causes have been supported. The subsequent growth of Carman’s is the stuff of entrepreneurial dreams – they now export to over 32 countries around the world.