How sweet it is…

The Sugar Images team. (Supplied)

Carole Levy

Katie Gallop, founder of Sugar Images, is an old hand at completing applications for the Geelong Business Excellence Awards, with her first entry in 2014, two years after launching her business.

Sugar Images won its first GBEA in 2015, in the home-based business category, when Katie was operating out of her photographic studio at her home. The vibrant business went on to be named as a finalist for the following five years – and was the very first entrant in this year’s awards.

A few things have changed since Katie, mum of four, started out. For starters, Sugar Images has moved into a double-storey studio on Malop Street, the premises requiring a complete transformation from an old milk bar into the stylish studio it is today.

The move happened during COVID-19 lockdown, with Katie and her teenage son doing all the renovations themselves since restrictions prevented tradie help. It was a lot of hard work but the results were well worth the effort, with a beautiful studio emerging, full of natural light and decked out in a classic monochrome palette and wooden flooring – the perfect backdrop for taking amazing photos of babies and families, Sugar Images’ specialty genre. In fact, the studio has won the Australian Studio Design of the Year.

The business has also grown, team-wise. Narelle, Stacy and Katie M. work with Katie and, soon, another team member will be on board. The talented photographers do their work either in the studio, at the hospital, on location, or in clients’ own homes – and each is fully vaccinated and has special training in calming and soothing babies and young children.

Aligning with the opinion of all past GBEA entrants, Katie says the application process is invaluable, describing it as “business first-aid” where everything is assessed and compared, and valued as “motivation to keep on improving”.

Katie watched the virtual 2020 GBEAs at home, in the company of Jess from Crew Faced Makeup Artistry, also a 2020 finalist. She says it was great to watch the event, praising the Chamber of Commerce for its efforts.

But she’s looking forward to “getting dressed up, with makeup and hair done” and attending a live event this year, describing it as a wonderful opportunity to catch up with other Geelong business owners and collaborators.

A keen supporter of the awards, Katie also loves being an example to her children of what can be achieved with “lots of passion and hard work”.

Entries close at 4pm on July 16 – go to