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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Gratitude blossoms within Hunter-based boutique

For Jess Shuwalow, a life-changing trip through South America and Africa sparked an idea that would pay it forward to the community.

She is the Founder and Lead Driver of Happiness for Newcastle-based business, The Grateful, where every purchase made gives a donation to someone in need.

“When I was in Africa, we stayed in an orphanage and hiked up to a little village that had just had a clinic put in,” Jess said.

“When we were visiting the clinic, there were people with malaria on their death beds just staring at some blank mud brick walls and I remember thinking this is the second time I have visited somewhere like that and to be in that situation.

“Even though they are getting treatment, stuck with nothing to look at to ease their minds of the pain would be really hard.”

So, Jess came up with a plan.

The next time she went travelling, she would take some items to help brighten up spaces like the clinic.

But, when she returned home, she realised that it was also happening on a smaller scale in Newcastle.

“When I was at the John Hunter Hospital, I saw that it was a really big place and thought: ‘Why wait’ when we could start something now to take flowers up to the hospital to brighten the space for the people there.”

Jess then enlisted the help of a friend, Amee Duncan, and the business blossomed from there.

It’s been four years and, for every posy they sell, they donate another one to John Hunter Hospital or Ronald McDonald House.

About a year into operation, they also decided to expand into a boutique store, where a small percentage of their profits go towards domestic violence charity Got Your Back Sista.

The funds sponsor women who are escaping domestic violence to attend self-defense classes.

Jess said the boutique was a great space for people to come in and get something for anyone they know.

“It’s nice because people can say: ‘I just bought a random stranger flowers or a sick child at Ronald McDonald House’ or ‘I’ve just potentially saved a woman’s life’ by buying a $50 t-shirt, which will help sponsor her to take self-defense classes,” she said.

She added it was win-win for all because you take home something nice for yourself while someone in need also had their spirits lifted.

“Initially, I wondered if we could trick people into self-care,” she said.

“Mums or people who are having [a bad] day can buy flowers for themselves and they think: ‘Oh yeah, if I buy this it’ll help someone that’s in need’ but, in turn, they are actually taking those flowers for themselves to have in their own home, which benefits their wellbeing.”

Go to The Grateful’s website or visit the boutique at 122 Young Street, Carrington, to make a purchase.

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