2020 Aspire & Inspire Award Winners

Each year Embark Credit Union and the Great Falls Development Authority honor exemplary women in business. Thank you to Embark Credit Union for sponsoring!

Inspire Award

This award will go to a Woman Business Owner in an established business that has made a significant personal contribution to its success, growth or expansion. We are looking for a business savvy woman who has helped or is helping other business owners or budding entrepreneurs. The winner will have: five plus successful years in business and mentored at least one other entrepreneur.

Meet our 2020 Inspire Award Winners

Amber Hofstad, Windrift Hill

When life gives you goats, you make goats milk soaps and lotions!

What started with a single KitchenAid mixer and a stove, has turned into a thriving family business in the heart of Conrad, MT. Taking risk is the name of the game for Amber Hofstad – and it has paid off. They now ship their products across the globe!

Erin Merchant, Schermele Films

When life gives you goats, you make goats milk soaps and lotions!

With a gifted camera and the support of her family and her community, Erin turned her passion for story telling into a thriving videography business.

Vanessa Bucklin, Pondera County Insurance

Using her support network combined with her discipline as an avid runner, Vanessa hit the ground running to open her own insurance company. And as if that weren’t enough, Vanessa and her team give back to the community through their own charitable work AND she has just published a book.

Frustrated with her career as a loan officer, Vanessa took a leap of faith and exchanged security for entrepreneurship.

Aspire Award

This award will go to a Woman Business Owner who has recently realized her dream by starting a new venture. Her early success and accomplishments show her creativity, passion and drive. The Aspire winner will have: Less than 5 years in business and a successful start!

Meet our 2020 Aspire Award Winners

Ashley Wilkinson, Fetch Pet Boutique

Feeling burnt out from her career in law, Ashley turned to her life-long passion: pet products.

Utilizing the knowledge from her business degree and market research with the help of Great Falls Development Authority, Ashley turned her passion for animal care into a bustling retail storefront complete with services.

Candice English, The Farmer’s Daughter Fibers

Hand dyed yarn, Piikuni culture, and Western heritage, oh my!

The 9 to 5 life isn’t for everyone. What started as a side hustle hand dyeing yarn turned into Candice’s full-time gig when she dove head first into entrepreneurship. What started in her basement has now turned into a multi-building operation with customers across the United States.

Hallie Thompson, Wholesome Hal’s

What started as a business plan assignment for a sophmore business class blossomed into a successful venture!

A natural introvert, Hallie’s passion for sustainable business is what drives her success – so much so, that she is looking to pursue a college degree in sustainable business when it comes time. Did we mention she is still in high school?!

Melissa Dascoulias, Dascoulias Realty Group

Property investment + police dispatch = thriving real estate business?!

Melissa fell into real estate “by accident.” When her and her husband moved from Orlando to Great Falls, Melissa spent every moment doing whatever she could to get her name out there – building her business from the ground up. With a gorgeous new space, she now helps other real estate agents realize their potential.

Tara Beam, Roadhouse Diner

“If today is my last day, have I done everything I have wanted to do?” That was the burning question that prompted former ER Nurse Tara Beam to buy “the old log cabin.”

With a “live every day like it’s your last” attitude, Tara and her husband buckled up for a crazy ride. And here they are almost five years later – thriving and still loving it.