3 Swiss Female Entrepreneurs you should know – Nominees Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Award

Posted on 06/11/2018 by Eileen Schuch
Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Award

On 30th November, Veuve Clicquot, the prestigious Maison de Champagne, organizes its Business Woman 2017 Award Ceremony at Hotel Park Hyatt in Zurich. Since 1972 the Award Ceremony is an annual rendez-vous that recognizes female entrepreneurs. This year’s finalists are: Alisée de Tonnac from Seedstars, Barbara Lax from Little Green House and Kamila Markram from Frontiers.

The reason why Veuve Clicquot is so committed to showcase and reward businesswomen is deeply rooted in the brand’s DNA, it’s own story being one of passion, prowess and pioneering! Reims, 1798: The young Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin, daughter of a businessman, marries François Clicquot, heir to Maison Clicquot. Six years after, she loses her husband. Is this tragedy going to be the end of the family business? No! At only 27 years of age, the young widow takes on the leadership of the enterprise and turns it into the prestigious Champagne House we know today.

Against the odds and despite all the struggles, her courage, entrepreneurial spirit and business acumen allowed the young woman to develop the company far beyond the boarders of Reims.

Barbe-Nicole, “La Veuve Clicquot”, became the first ever woman to run a Champagne House. That was something truly remarkable in a time when women generally had no role to play in the business world. That, let alone running a Champagne House, was exclusively reserved for men.

Today, Maison Veuve-Clicquot is part of the portfolio of LVMH, who cherishes the legacy of Barbe-Nicole. Since 1972, the Maison celebrates female entrepreneurship with its annual Business Woman Award. The prestigious award is discerned in many countries honoring the work of many talented businesswomen around the world.

This year’s ceremony is going to be held on 30th November at Park Hyatt in Zurich. In the presence of Bea Petri, founder of Schminkbar and winner of the Award in 2012, the jury will announce who of the three finalists will be awarded Business Woman Of The Year 2017.

Three remarkable women: meet the finalists

The first nominee is Alisée de Tonnac. Our paths have already crossed at several occasions. Seedstars was launched around the same time as Coolbrandz and we featured the project repeatedly. Alisée and I have something else in common: we both said “No.” to L’Oreal at some stage in our career and set out to create something more meaningful. The last time we met was when we were both speakers at the Women in Digital Switzerland Annual Conference earlier this year. Seedstars is such a great initiative! It really has a positive impact on many people’s lives. In helping startups in emerging countries, Seedstars supports those people who shape their local economy; pioneers in their own right, influencers in their communities… entrepreneurs who challenge the status quo and with their ideas and projects help bring about social change. Seedstars acts as an incubator and connects aspiring startups with investors, coaches and educators. Such valuable work!

Alisée de Tonnac was born in France. A true millennial, she followed her globetrotting family and grew up between Singapore, Silicon Valley and Geneva. Alisée is a graduate of HEC Lausanne and, like Madame Clicquot in her time, an inspiration to other women.

The second nominee is Barbara Lax. Her project Little Green House is directed at families and helping the future generations evolve in the best conditions. A native of Bavaria, Barbara lives in Switzerland where, in 2011, she innovated a new childcare system that accommodates the need of modern parents to reconcile their private and professional life. Little Green House is a network of private, multilingual Child Daycare Centers that offers flexible schedules and fosters the children’s relation to nature.


It was in 2009, when Barbara became a mother herself, that the idea for Little Green House germinated. Like many parents, she just did not find a crib to her liking. Being an active, professional woman, she needed to find a solution. So she created one, for herself and other parents in the same situation. Madame Clicquot was a working mum herself, a single mother after the death of her husband. She too needed to consolidate her role as a mother with the challenges of her Champagne business. Here is a quote from a letter to her granddaughter: “The world is in perpetual motion, and we must invent the things of tomorrow. One must go before others, be determined and exacting, and let your intelligence direct your life. Act with audacity.” Inspiring, right!

Barbara Lax is just as inspiring, a true role model indeed! To date, Little Green House counts 4 daycare centers in Switzerland (Zurich, Gland, Morges and Versoix), 120 employees and more than 600 clients. The company was ranked 12th in the list of “Growth Champions 2017” by Handelszeitung. Beyond the childcare centres, Little Green House also helps companies in becoming more “family-friendly” as a strategic advantage to attract and retain the best talents.

The third nominee is Kamila Markram, co-founder of Frontiers. What started in 2007 as a small business that she created with her husband, like her a scientist from École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), developed into a company with 140 employees at EPFL’s science park, offices in London, San Francisco and Madrid… Today, Frontiers is the fifth largest Publishing House for open access scientific journals in the world.

Frontiers aims to make research results accessible to everyone in the world, thereby accelerating scientific, technological and societal progress as well as economic growth. In 2013, Nature Publishing Group (NPG) became a shareholder of Frontiers in order to form a strategic alliance that would help to advance the global open science movement. Like Madame Clicquot, Kamila started a business with her husband, and then took on the leadership of the enterprise. With her in the role of CEO, Frontiers deployed its vision to become one of the biggest community-rooted, open-access academic publishers worldwide.

Knowledge is a highly important asset and an Open Science platform like Frontiers, that provides everybody with the equal opportunity to seek, share and generate knowledge, a major step toward empowering researchers everywhere on the planet in their daily work.

Award and year-end celebrations

The champagne house Veuve Clicquot looks back on a 200-year history of sparkling and glamorous moments. As we celebrate fabulous female entrepreneurs and their life, the journey that led to their achievements, the year 2017 nears its end. Inspired by the forward-looking spirit of adventure, the enduring passion for discovery and excellence that gave birth to the House, this year, Veuve Clicquot dedicates its holiday edition to travel. A source of inspiration or simply an adventure, travelling always enchanted Madame Clicquot, she who set out to conquer the world with her ideas and her fabulous champagne. Maybe you have the feeling that you did not quite yet arrive at destination, maybe you have a project of your own that still needs to be accomplished. Who knows where 2018 takes you… the most important in any voyage is to take the first step. Be daring, be bold! You can go wherever you want to, achieve whatever you set your mind to!

Veuve Clicquot Holiday Edition Magnetic Arrow

Bea Petri: Veuve Clicquot Business Woman 2012

All this talk of leading women and celebrations reminds me of my encounter with Bea Petri, winner of the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Award in 2012.

2015 began in Verbier for me with a lot of snow and the popping of champagne corks. Chalet Clicquot is an unforgettable experience that I shared with other media professionals and Swiss celebrities: stylist Julia Winkler, Zoe Torinesi, model and founder of the food blog Cookinesi, Géraldine Fasnacht, snowboard and free-ride champion and Bea Petri, founder of Schminkbar, a concept that is combining cosmetics and culinary pleasures, and NasMod, a vocational training program in Burkina Faso that teaches young people skills in sewing, cosmetics and makeup, thus preparing them for a career in these domains.

Bea Petri is one of the most famous make-up artists in Switzerland. For over 30 years, Bea worked both in Switzerland and abroad for film, theater and television productions. She became well known for her participation in the TV Show Cinderella with Michelle Hunziker, Bea’s Box on Tele Züri and People on Sat 1. She regularly provides beauty and lifestyle tips on Radio 24, Radio 1 and Radio Energy. Courageous and passionate, she became a national market leader with a niche idea. In 2003, she and her two daughters Lia and Kim opened the first Schminkbar in the heart of Zurich. She leads her company with a mix of passion for good, sustainable products and a strong sense of responsibility for her employees. At the end of 2016, Bea Petri handed over her life’s work to her daughters and her son-in-law in order to be able to focus more on her successful NasMode training project in Burkina Faso.



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