2018 The Year of Awards

At the beginning of this year I was so sure I was going to win a major design award for the efforts I put into one of our projects in particular……and then I didn’t win. You can read about the highs and definite lows of that 24 hour period here;


Turns out that after Friday night, the year 2018 has been our most successful for awards. Let me clearly state that God’s grace and favour is extremely evident in my life and I am eternally grateful for that.

On Thursday evening I was invited to a reception at the Wollongong Art Gallery hosted by Wollongong City Council. I was under the impression this was a networking event so of course let’s not deny the fact that free food and drink is always a draw card.

Turns out in fact it was a very formal affair where members of the public were shown appreciation for their contribution to the community. That formal that you had to wait until the end to clap and take photos. I was awarded a certificate from the Lord Mayor himself Gordon Bradbery for my involvement as a local business woman. We are very fond of our new city which we’ve been residing in for 5 years now. Birdblack Design has a strong impact on the growth of this city. We pride ourselves in supporting local businesses from builders, joiners, retailers and staff. We also give a lot back to the community in ways of donations and volunteering. This is a principle I live my live by so honestly it hasn’t been that hard to give back.

The following night we attended the Illawarra Business Chamber Awards held at Win Entertainment Centre. I was finalist in the category of Outstanding Young Entrepreneur. The process to make finalist involves answering a list of questions set out by the judges about your business. My application was over 10 pages, so it takes a huge amount of time to complete. From here you then get placed as a finalist which means a face-to-face interview. I have found that I don’t get too nervous if I’m speaking about something I’m passionate about. So walking out of that interview I thought I did the best I could, given I hadn’t had any time to prep as we are now well and truly into the busy season of construction.
I had made peace with myself that I wasn’t going be disappointed if I didn’t win, in fact I had talked myself into believing the award wasn’t going to be mine. If you know me, you’ll know I’m extremely organised so given I didn’t have a pre-rehearsed speech ready in my pocket is saying something. My category was number 15 of the night and at the 13th award the thought suddenly hit me ‘What if I do win?”. Yikes, I quickly found a scrap of paper in my bag and a red pen and made a bullet point list of single words of who to thank. Next minute we’re at my award. At that moment the adrenaline kicked in hard but his time instead of getting nervous I told myself I actually like this feeling. I told God no matter what the outcome I know the great things he’s done for my business and every accolade I receive is going back to him. BUT in the last second, I also reminded myself that I do have God’s favour and right there and then I knew he was going to show me that again.

And the winner for Outstanding Young Entrepreneur is……………………

Sssssss (as soon I heard that sound I knew it was mine) Sarah Nolen!

Flip it was actually mine! My jaw did drop!
As Dave and I made our way to the stage I had an overwhelming sense of happiness. What a whooping big award to win against some stellar competition.
Now let’s be honest this is a ticketed event that includes an amazing 3 course meal and drinks. By this stage of the night the sparkling was on a continuous pour and the crowd was getting louder. Which when you’re trying to give your winning speak isn’t so conducive.
I believe I started my speech in front of 700 PEOPLE with the words ‘Holey Moley everybody!’ haha a brilliant way to captivate the audience from their drinks.

The most important thing I said in my speech (besides if you have an ugly house then call us) was that no one getting up on that stage to claim their award is a single person business. There is no way Birdblack Design would be the success it is without the loyal support and contribution of my amazing designers, husband, family, builders, trades, suppliers and of course clients. Any award I receive with my name on it is for my team.

So thank you to everyone for your amazing encouragement and backing since this business took off in 2014.