Ahead of this year’s 51st Veuve Clicquot Bold Woman Award, the current laureates share highlights and insights from their immersive trip to Maison Veuve Clicquot in Reims.
For Gugu Sithole, winner of the 2022 Veuve Clicquot Bold Woman Award, the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of Madame Clicquot at the Maison’s esteemed home in Reims, France, proved inspirational. “I gained a real sense of the challenges Madame Clicquot overcame and how she ultimately changed perceptions, not only about champagne but also about women,” Gugu says. “Through her strength, audacity, drive, and resilience, she was able to defy the odds.”
Gugu’s tour of the storied cellars carved into the chalky rock of the region, learning the secrets of champagne production while tasting iconic wines, was one of several standout moments during her trip to France. It formed an integral part of her immersion into the history, tradition, and luxury of Maison Veuve Clicquot as a Bold Woman Award laureate.
The founder of sustainable tourism company Glamping Adventures, Gugu got to share these rare and memorable experiences in France with fellow trailblazer, Captain Londy Ngcobo. The winner of the first Veuve Clicquot Bold Future Award, Londy was recognised for her achievements as the Director of Womaritime Experts and the Founder of Global Maritime Youth, in which she uses her position to educate and empower youth in this industry. Both entrepreneurs were selected from a pool of 250 visionary South African businesswomen, joining the ranks of an illustrious list of over 450 winners in 27 countries worldwide.
Gugu and Londy enjoyed a stay in Paris, the City of Lights, en route to Reims where they gathered with their Bold Woman peers from across the globe. A highlight of the trip included a once in a lifetime experience where the winners were honoured with a vineyard being named after each of them. “The connections made have been lasting,” says Gugu. “The award has given me access to a network of global business leaders. I now have a pool of inspiring women to draw upon to expand my business perspective and create valuable business linkages.” It is support she acknowledges as vital. “As women in business it can feel like the odds are against us; we constantly have to prove that we are capable.”
She remarks that winning the Bold Woman Award was “a well-timed milestone in my business trajectory, a stamp of validation that has brought with it so many new opportunities. I’m more courageous and resilient as a result, and I have changed the way I conduct my business as I’m now catering to an international rather than solely domestic market. At the same time, we are growing together with the women in the rural communities we serve, making structural changes, and encouraging women to handhold each other and to take care of the environment.”
Londy explains that Madame Clicquot’s audacious story and legacy have led her to question how she would like to be remembered. “It’s definitely challenged me to keep fine-tuning my own legacy. Being able to connect with a network of bold businesswomen globally is a step towards this.” Gugu says the greatest learning she’s gleaned from this experience is that “there is power in unity. It is crucial to belong to support networks that can spur you on, whether through the sharing of ideas and resources or as a source of motivation. We, as businesswomen, need to be united. If we are, then there is no stopping us.”
Gugu will join the judging panel for the 2023 Bold Woman Award, taking her place among some of the finest leaders of the South African business landscape. The jury will be looking out for the next generation of fearless female business leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs whose names will become synonymous with boldness.
Gugu’s appeal to prospective entrants is, “Don’t even think about it, just do it! There is so much to take away from this experience. It will turbo-charge your work and your vision. It certainly did that for me.” Londy is looking forward to witnessing the journey of this year’s entrants. “Define what you’re seeking and learn to ask for help,” Londy advises. “There are women out there who understand the power of collaboration over competition. They’re called Bold Women. Let’s multiply!”
Entries now open and close on 14 May. Business leaders and role models who are ready to be recognised for their remarkable success are invited to enter the Veuve Clicquot Bold Woman Award by completing a simple form.
By emboldening generations of audacious female leaders, the 250-year-old champagne house is securing an impactful future for female entrepreneurs globally.
Issued by Avenue
Feature image: Supplied