Carla Zampatti – Tribute

The vivid conversation I had with Carla about colour as part of the judging process for the EY Entrepreneur of the Year will always stay with me. It was 2011, I was 10 years into my RedBalloon entrepreneurial journey and whilst the other 11 or so judges asked me questions about business, vision, and growth, Carla Zampatti wanted to know me, the person. I spoke of my love for paint, colour and of my ambition as a young woman to be an artist. I shared that for me being an entrepreneur was part of bringing my creativity to life. We giggled and laughed and I felt of all those judges – she was the only one that uncovered who I really am.

This was not the first time I had met Carla, but over the subsequent years at an event, in a board room, or at the judging table, she was always so present, so generous, and somehow she knew where we had left off in the last conversation. She was of course an inspiration to many entrepreneurs, but more than that she became part of our journey. As a start-up founder with no money to ‘own’ a Carla Zampatti outfit, it seemed a pipe dream. To own one would be the definition of ‘I’ve made it’. One never forgets the first time one can afford such a wonderful ‘piece’. It is a marker in one’s own journey. For the last 10 years as the business has thrived I realise that Carla has had an impact at most of my ‘milestone’ events.

Whether it was the launch of Big Red Group, on the set of Shark Tank, at the media wall of so many events there I was wearing a Carla. The highlight was when she (and her team) agreed to make me the red velvet cape that I wore to the 2018 Logies. This cape represents so much, my growth, my ‘success’ and being very comfortable in who I am.

It takes role models to show others the way. Carla Zampatti has been that for so many. Forever her legacy will shine bright for the business community, the arts and of course many, many women leaders and business owners who learned and were inspired by who she was, her generosity, her courage and her incredible design and her humanness.

Also published on Medium.

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