Lots of people start businesses, but not many of them start one with the goal to give some love away. Jess and Gemma though, that's kind of what The Grateful is all about. I gave them a quick holla to hear all about it...
Jess, can you tell me what inspired you to start the project?
Jess: In one sentence - I just want to feel good and share the shit out of it!
On a deeper and more expanded level there's a few key drivers or triggers for me. The first is, I travelled to Africa and South America earlier this year and in Africa I visited this clinic in Malawi in the middle of nowhere. It was the second time I'd been to a clinic like this where they walk you past people that look as though they're on their death beds (which are basically a camping swags) and there's just four blank walls of mud-brick or concrete for these patients to stare at. Each time I've been somewhere like this, I think next time I travel I'm bringing with me a bag full of beautiful bright coloured prints of paintings to give to these clinics to put on the walls so the poor people suffering have something bright and inspiring to look at. And then I thought why wait until next time I travel. Every time Iusually go to a hospital I always complain and I hearthe same from others, soinstead of complaining why not start doing something about helping to change my own and others' experiencewhen they visit a hospital. We have The John Hunter Hospital (Hunter) right here, one of the largest employers in our region so it made sense to partner with them first.
Another key driver is that I'd been wanting to start a business of my own for a while and could see a gap in Carrington. Carrington offers pretty much all of the lifestyle aspects: great food, places to drink and hangout, the harbour, parks an awesome local crowd, plus it draws many mainland'rs, however there's that piece of being able to engage through purchasing something you like or buying a gift for someone that's missing. Then Gemma one of my best friends (we're friends from Sydney and both moved to Newcastle to reclaim our life and freedom) had been talking about wanting to start a coffee shop that also sells flowers. She has two very young kids and I blatantly have told her she's nuts to go into hospitality with two young kids. But I thought if she's interested and really wants to start a business with flowers, the flowers could be a perfect way to stop complaining about the Hunter and start helping to inject some more colour and life up there. So I called her up and proposed the idea - I want to operate out of Carrington, this isn't just a business where people make a transaction, it's a way to support people to look after themselves and give them a platform to get involved in change. I need you and your creative floral skills and company and support, how do you feel about this???
For the two of us, Gemma has two young kids and I'm just about to have my first, so starting The Grateful now the time felt right. You couldn't dream of exposing your kids to something where they're taught to be kind to themselves and grateful for what they have and that giving and creating change are just second nature.
Gemma: I loved the idea and was so ready to do something more, something creative. Of course working with Jess and her fantastic inspiration and enthusiasm was a no brainer, and the concept appealed to me greatly as a mum (as it does to most mums). I’ve been just mum for the past four years and I felt this was a great way to start doing something more for myself, but also give back to others at the same time.
Who should by a bouquet from The Grateful?
Jess: Firstly, those that need to be reminded that they're awesome and to treat themselves and not feel guilty about it! When we feel good, it's infectious and we support others around us to feel good!
Businesses or individuals that want to get more involved with the community, but are time poor. The Grateful is a platform that allows people to donate or volunteer, but through doing something they might likely already do such as buying flowers. Plus, having flowers around your home or business makes you feel better and everyone else around feel better...
And of course anyone wanting to acknowledge someone they care about and are 'grateful' for.
If we can we'd like to share some feedback we received from the most beautiful lady the other day, Kylie from Fiber Lily who we'd met via instagram and inspired to by a bouquet for herself. She drove all the way from her home in Maitland to Carrington in the rain, which we then had to redirect her to North Lambton (another story):
📷 photo credit Jessica Ross Photography
"I spoiled myself with a beautiful bouquet of flowers from @the_grateful
This is my colour therapy for the day and it makes me feel amazing.
The Grateful is a wonderful initiative. For every bouquet of flowers bought, Jess & Gem donate another bouquet to The John Hunter Hospital.
I am grateful for so many things but today I am especially grateful for my physical health.
Thank you Jess and Gem for encouraging gratitude, it truly is something that is too easily forgotten.
Getting myself these flowers today has made me feel so good, I deserve it. I know I take good care of my family and give them 110% every day. Giving myself a little something is not only good for me, but also good for them because they have a happy mum. Happiness is contagious xxx"
And you partner with the John Hunter Hospital, can you tell us what it means giving another bouquet?
Jess: There is something really special about having flowers around, the colour, the scents, the natural beauty. We have partnered with the John Hunter Hospital so that you can share the joy and happiness flowers bring to you with those in a less fortunate position.
When we first approached The John Hunter Hospital to discuss how this relationship could work and what we were attempting to achieve, the most beautiful woman Kristine took us around to various areas of the hospital. Although we only visited surface areas like receptions, waiting areas, administration, volunteer rooms etc. one thing that stood out is there was not one bunch of flowers or colour anywhere! All of these areas are the coal face of where people in need, their families and those that dedicate their lives to helping others converge and sadly they felt so cold and forgotten.
We hear people complain about their hospital experiences all the time, and we too are guilty of it, but we forget to realise there are people there dedicating their lives and own family time to support others. These people are doing the best they can with the resources they've got. Just the simple act of buying a bouquet to put some colour in your life and put a smile on your face or someone else's has given an injection of colour to the coal faces of the hospital and the people that need it most. Everyone that walks through the doors of The John Hunter Hospital, whether it be someone sick or injured, a distressed family member or those that have given their lives to help others and sees a bouquet of flowers - has now been given some space and a break in a stressful time through the touch of colour, life and positivity the bouquet provides.
Again, this feedback we received from a lady that runs admissions at the Hunter helps explain:
"Hi Ladies. I had the biggest privilege of meeting you two beautiful ladies today. I have been left today with the biggest feeling of love and caring. You do not realise the difference you have made already. The positive feedback and compliments from visitors and patients have been amazing. I hope you have all the success in the world."
When you aren’t doing beautiful work at The Grateful, where do you like to hangout in Newcastle?
Jess: Surprise, surprise - Carrington and specifically Yaspresso (coffee bar), which is where we sell some of our bouquets. Yaspresso has created this super chilled relaxed space that's perfect for kids and dogs and has the feel of an island bar.
I'm also a huge Stockton Beach fan - getting miles of beach to yourself and being able to take my dog Foo.
Here's a very mixed and specific list of venues: The Lass, The Landing, Nagisa, Nans Dumplings, Stag and Hunter, Burwood, The Surfhouse, Kokomo, The Croatian Club
Gemma: I love Redhead beach, that’s where I started my new life in Newcastle, but I love walking along any of the beaches with my kids in tow.
Jess: And to tell you an honest story, when I first moved to Newcastle from Sydney some of my friends and family here said you're going to get so bored here, but I actually can't keep up with Newcastle, there is a constant Tsunami of cool new bars, restaurants, businesses and just all round awesome people popping up everywhere!
Jessica & Gemma: We just want to feel good & share the sh*t out of it!