Newport women take top business honors

Female business group awards three who fit theme of 'inspiration, courage and hope.'

September 06, 2010|By Sarah Peters,
  • Allyson Ames
Allyson Ames (Daily Pilot )

COSTA MESA — Three Newport Beach women will be honored for transforming their dreams into thriving businesses at the 15th annual Remarkable Women Awards dinner Oct. 5.

The Orange County Chapter of the National Assn. of Women Business Owners chooses three exemplary female entrepreneurs each year who define the organizations' core values in promoting women as effective leaders and role models.

Although thrilling for Newport residents, as all three of this year's honorees are local businesswomen, it is purely a coincidence.

Women from all over Orange County were evaluated and considered for the awards, chapter President Kathy Dawson said.

These three women all reflect this years' theme: "inspiration, courage and hope."

"We can learn a lot from these outstanding women who have evolved their passion into profitable business opportunities while leveraging their leadership positions to elevate a number of charitable, educational and community-based organizations," Dawson said in a prepared statement.


More than 800 women are expected to attend the dinner at the Costa Mesa Hilton Hotel.


Lifetime Achievement Award: Kathy Gardarian, Qualis International Inc.

Although the winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award, Qualis International owner Kathy Gardarian said, "In some ways, I feel like I'm just getting started."

Gardarian started Qualis International in 1988 when she felt that her self expression was being stifled in a male-dominated workplace.

"They wanted me to bottle the old paradigm of male hierarchy in the business world, and I just couldn't accept it any longer," Gardarian said of what spurred her to create Qualis, which means "quality."

Quality as in everyone — high ranking executive or part-time stockroom worker — has a quality opinion that is worth being heard, Gardarian said.

Since striking out on her own, Gardarian's company has become responsible for selling, distributing and stocking for Fortune 500 companies, including being named one of Home Depot's top 10 female vendors in 2008.

"What's really needed to succeed in business is honesty and collaboration," Gardarian said. "It needs to move from 'I' to 'we' because it's always about the bigger picture, about creating the best solution possible."


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Angela Cortright, founder and principal owner of Spa Gregorie's, found her center of balance in the spa service industry.

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