JESS & GEM FROM THE GRATEFUL
The Grateful is a boutique flower service, with a one-for-one happiness initiative at its heart. It’s our very own Newcastle-based, floral version of AirBnB, Uber, TOMs, Thankyou and Who Gives a Crap TP.
Jess and Gem from The Grateful are two life-long friends from Sydney who moved to Newcastle a few years ago with their respective families, in search of a better life. So HA HA to all those people who think that the big smoke is where it’s at… Newie’s got it going on. Now also seems like a delightful opportunity to remind everyone of how we are voted one of Lonely Planet’s top cities in the world. #pashabulker #neverforget
Anyway, what’s most important here is that The Grateful is a beautiful new initiative with a whole lotta heart. The way it works is simple: you buy a bouquet of flowers from their online store, and Jess and Gem produce a second bouquet that is delivered on your behalf to the John Hunter Hospital and Ronald McDonald House. We all know that hospitals can be sad, sterile places to hang out, so their mission is to brighten the day of patients and their families.
The Grateful is inspired by the sharing economy sweeping the globe, and a further move toward conscious consumption and collective kindness. Jess and Gem are ahead of the curve, recognising the incredible and lasting value of giving back. If we look after ourselves, we’re looking after the community, and if we’re looking out for the community, we’re looking out for the planet. Plus, as the girls say, flowers have a “neutral footprint”. It’s a breath of fresh air in an otherwise dog-eat-dog consumerist society.
“Since moving to Newcastle there's been a flood of uber cool bars, restaurants and other things that I can't even keep up with. Plus, what I've also found is that Newcastle encourages, supports and incubates so many people and businesses to be 'cool' – to do what they love. It's that real sense of 'we rise by lifting others'.”
Jess recently finished her MBA majoring in social entrepreneurship, and did a research project on the concept for The Grateful. “We've been able to connect with the amazing people in our community and let The Grateful organically develop its own legs, which we can then feed into the boutique, instead of the other way around.”
What does COOL mean to you?
Cool to me is when someone is doing something that they love so much, and everything just feels right. Whatever that person is doing becomes completely infectious and others can't help but get on their 'cool' good vibe train!
To me, cool is something great, something worth sharing. Cool comes from the heart, from passion.
When did you first have the idea for The Grateful?
We both had two separate ideas, which we merged together. Jess was travelling Africa and South America last year and in Malawi, she visited a very basic clinic in the middle of nowhere and saw people on their death beds (which were more like camp swags) surrounded by dark grey/brown mud-concrete walls and all she could think was how easy it would be to put up a colourful picture and give their mind a distraction and something positive for them to look at. So she decided that next time she travelled, she would take a bag full of colourful prints and have them ready. But she also wanted to do something now. We thought about the places in Newcastle where we could do something similar and realised that we’d been guilty of complaining about how sterile and lifeless hospitals can feel. Why not take responsibility and do something about it?
“I wanted to do something for me, and something that would make my kids proud.”
What’s the main message behind the brand?
That we're all connected and no matter what is going on in your life, it's still possible to find beauty. One of the core concepts is to remind people that it’s okay to do something nice for yourself (like buying flowers) and not feel guilty. And, in fact, by looking after yourself you're actually helping others.
Tell me about your decision to team up with charities…
John Hunter Hospital is one of the biggest employers in our region so has the ability to reach the most people. Ronald McDonald House is a great fit for us too. They're already oozing colour, energy, connection and positivity to support and make people feel better.
What does the future of The Grateful look like?
Hopefully in a few months we'll have The Grateful Boutique, which will stock clothes, homewares and flowers. For every item purchased, another item will be donated on behalf of that customer, to someone in need. We'd love to do team-building and colour therapy flower bouquet workshops, where people put together a bouquet for themselves and another to be donated to the hospital.
“Having flowers around is like staring at the ocean; they give your mind a break and an energy hit.”
Tell me about your dream for an ideal society/country/planet…
We're really hoping to support people to reconnect, with themselves or with the community. We've become overloaded with distractions through information and technology and I believe so many of us are crying out to reconnect in person.
“We just want to feel good ourselves and share the shit out of it!”
I love the idea of a village society, connecting with and supporting the local community, local produce, helping each other out. The beauty of all our technology and social media means that we can be connected with so many parts of our world, but I feel i’s so important to always come back to your own backyard. Finding the right balance between the global society and the right here and now.
When you’re not working on The Grateful, what does life look like?
Breastfeeding! My daughter Eddi has my appetite! Plus I’m always planning trips and experiences – I love to travel. And you’ll always find me outdoors or at the beach.
Spending time with my husband two kids. We’re always busy finding new places to play and explore. We’re also renovating our house, so in my spare time I’m usually trying to sand or paint something!
Who is the coolest person you know (in the world)?
All the people who’ve connected with us through The Grateful - all of Newcastle and the entire world seems cool! Plus, I think Gem’s pretty cool, and you too Amy!
But to me, the ultimate cool person is my partner Coxy. He's just HIM – he doesn't pretend to be anyone else and that's exactly what COOL is to me. And, of course, my daughter Eddi! She's been bloody amazing. During our pregnancy, she was so good and allowed me to keep doing all of the things I love: I ran and exercised through the entire pregnancy, Gem and I started The Grateful, all of which helped me to be the best version of me for her arrival.
Jess has always been my source of cool. She’s inspiring – one of those people who is so passionate about life that it radiates to the people around her.
When she’s not interviewing cool people about cool shit, Amy is doing other writing stuff. Words are her jam.
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Cool People Doing Cool Things is for thinkers, dreamers and creatives. For ball-busters, goal-kickers and chimney-sweeps. Read, share, dream, enjoy, smile. Be kind, be creative, inspire and love each other.
(c) Cool People Doing Cool Things 2017