At the end of last year The Grateful Boutique & Bouquet launched with one very strong core purpose – to teach people and businesses that life doesn’t have to be all about money and profit. The key is to look after yourself; and that by looking after you, you’re actually supporting those around you and the community to do the same!
This unique concept was born from two friends’ individual, but aligned, desires to do something more. Jessica Shuwalow, one of the founders and partners, returned to Newcastle from a trip to Africa in mid 2016 and during her trip had visited an extremely basic and remote clinic in the middle of Malawi where she witnessed people on their death beds with nothing but a dark grey wall to stare at. Jess couldn’t let go of the thought of injecting some colour into those places to give people something positive to look at in such a critical and horrible time. Instead of jumping straight back on a plane to Africa, Jess thought why not start locally with one of the largest employers in the region – Hunter New England Health and The John Hunter Hospital. Gemma McBurnie, the other founder and partner, was at the time wanting to start a coffee and flower shop. So the two desires merged to create The Grateful.
The Grateful is a business, program and platform that gives businesses, individuals and the community a way support and give back to the region by doing something they might already be doing or by doing something nice for themselves or their business, employees and clients at the same time.
The Grateful have started with something really simple – flowers. Every time someone purchases a bouquet through The Grateful another bouquet is put together at the end of the week and delivered to the John Hunter Hospital on that customers’ behalf. Once the donated bouquet has been delivered the customer responsible for the purchase that contributed to that donated bouquet receives an update via email and/or social media thanking them for their contribution, some images from the delivery and a bit of a story. Businesses and individuals are then encouraged to share this update and promote their involvement in supporting the greater community and hospital.
“People and businesses often say they feel guilty about doing things like buying flowers for themselves or spending business funds on flowers,” Jess said.
“So if we can support people to change this mindset through connecting with doing something for the greater community, like buying a bouquet from The Grateful with their primary focus on supporting and donating to the John Hunter Hospital, people feel okay about doing something nice for themselves and/or business. And what people find following receiving their own flowers is, that having their bouquet in their home or business can also have such a positive impact on them personally. It puts them in a better mindset and the people (families, team members, clients) around them pick up on that and it becomes infectious.”
“Having something so simple, colourful, natural and sensory can make a big difference. Whether it’s in your home or office flowers provide a happy subtle injection of space and energy for you, your friends, family, team or clients to enjoy. As an employee, client and customer of other businesses myself, I know the impact that walking into an office, home, shop, restaurant or practice that has something bright with positive energy can make to my entire day and experience of that business.”
Since launching at the very end of last year The Grateful has had over 30 direct members of the community and businesses contribute and provide close to 100 bouquets to the John Hunter Hospital. These bouquets go to various reception desks (the coalface of the hospital) to greet patients and distressed family members, the Emergency Department (ED), the family room at ED to support family members with likely the most difficult time in their life, housing care for remote patients and their families, volunteers and the people that work at the hospital dedicating their lives to helping others.
The Grateful also has a subscription program (The Grateful Bouquet Program) where individuals and businesses can sign up to receive a weekly bouquet for their home and/or office and also provide another bouquet to the John Hunter Hospital each week. A regular subscription means that The Grateful can commit to providing a bouquet every week to a critical area of the hospital and businesses or individuals that participate can sponsor a particular area of the hospital to support.
IMAGE | The Grateful founders, Gemma McBurnie and Jessica Shuwalow
Photo courtesy of Jessica Ross Photography