A fashion designer who started her own business at the age of 18 and now employs hundreds of staff in stores across the world, has won a prestigious business award.
Anya Hindmarch, 43, who launched the successful I'm Not A Plastic Bag campaign, was named Veuve Clicquot Businesswoman of The Year after impressing judges with her drive and passion as well as her support for the fashion industry.
Ms Hindmarch launched her business while studying in Florence as a teenager, where she was inspired after seeing a leather duffel bag carried by chic Italians. She opened her first store in London and has seen her empire grow to 56 stores in cities including New York and Tokyo.
She recently stepped down as company chief executive to go "back to her roots" as creative designer and has ambitions to open more stores in emerging markets in the Far East, India and Brazil. She said she was inspired by former Tory Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, believing she offered encouragement to women to succeed in business.
The mother-of-five said: "My passion is to encourage people to start their own business, especially in the creative industries. Women face the same challenges as I did when I first started in business, but I honestly don't believe there are any barriers."
Her support for the next generation of entrepreneurs, through the government's Start Up Britain campaign, was praised by judges, as well as her commitment to run a sociably responsible business. Her campaign against the use of plastic bags was launched in 2007, with sales of the I'm Not A Plastic Bag bags around the world.
Christina Jesaitis, senior brand manager of Veuve Clicquot, said: "We are delighted that the judges have selected a winner who fully embraces the spirit of the award and can provide inspiration for the next generation of female entrepreneurs in the UK.
"In a year that British fashion has never been under the spotlight more, Anya has proven that commercial triumph alongside pursuing a responsible business is more than achievable and it is wonderful to see such a shining example of business success."
Home Secretary and minister for women and equalities Theresa May said: "I congratulate Anya Hindmarch and hope her success inspires budding businesswomen across Britain. Women are at the heart of our economic future and I would like to see many more reaching the top of their chosen field."
The other two finalists were Helena Morrissey, chief executive of Newton Investment Management and Ruth Rogers, owner of The River Cafe.