St Albans businesswoman scoops retail award

A BUSINESSWOMAN from St Albans has been named Innovator of the Year in the 2010 Specsavers everywoman in Retail Awards.

Anna Bance, 30, was presented with the award at a glamourous ceremony in Park Lane, London, for her business Girl Meets Dress, which she launched in 2009 with her co-founder and boyfriend, Xavier de Lecaros-Aquise.

She said: “Doing well in awards such as this one means a lot to me. Retail, and particularly a newcomer in online retail, is very difficult and while many people grow in the business it is inspiring to recognise a newcomer with no prior retail, IT, or company management experience.”

The award was presented by TV presenter and fashion guru Gok Wan and Dame Mary Perkins, co-founder of Specsavers in front of 300 guests.

Girl Meets Dress is an online boutique that allows women to get the latest catwalk looks without the expensive price tags with an innovative twist: rather than buy the hottest designer dresses and handbags, customers can hire them.

Anna, who grew up in Chiswell Green, began her career working for InStyle, Wallpaper, Harpers Bazaar and in PR at Hermes after graduating from London College of Fashion, said the site was inspired by the constant lending and borrowing of clothes that goes on in the fashion industry.

The everywoman awards seek to recognise strong female role models who highlight the opportunities available to women in retail through their achievements.

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Maxine Benson, MBE, co-founder and director of everywoman, the UK’s largest business network for women, said: “With the UK coming out of recession, it is important to champion the women that possess the skills necessary to ensure organisations can continue to thrive. Through highlighting the female stars in the sector, these awards prove to other women that retail is a viable and rewarding career option.”

The Innovator of the Year recognises innovative ideas, a fresh approach and someone who has devised new processes to make a business more profitable.