PAY-it-forward posy startup The Grateful has blossomed into a bricks and mortar city boutique.
The business was launched 15 months ago by Jessica Shuwalow and Gemma McBurnie, with the initial concept allowing customers to buy a posy of flowers knowing another bouquet would be donated to the John Hunter Hospital or Ronald McDonald house.
Ms Shuwalow said Novocastrians and local businesses had thrown their support behind the scheme, allowing she, Ms McBurnie and new business parter Amee Duncan to open The Grateful Boutique in Carrington. It sells clothing for men, women and children, with most brands from the Hunter, including Choose Your Animal and Sprocket & Steele.
“The majority of our suppliers have a social conscience, either up-cycling or making products that protect the planet, and some donate to charities or help communities in remote areas,” says Ms Shuwalow.
For every item purchased in the store, The Grateful Boutique sets aside a portion – $1 for the first $25 parcel, and more with each $25 increment – and donates it on behalf of the customer.
The first cause it is supporting is to donate funds to provide self defence classes for women facing domestic violence, with the classes organised by local charity Got Your Back Sista.
“Our mission is to create a happier community,” says Ms Shuwalow. “On the surface we are paying forward but the idea is to also help mums who come in feeling the pressure of motherhood, dealing with possibly going back to work or balancing a career and mentally being tough on themselves. The quickest way to snap out of that is to find perspective, and thinking about Got Your Back Sista enables them to have gratitude.”
Demand for the boutique has been strong, with customers keen to know the story of the product they are buying, and who they are assisting, rather than just making a quick purchase.
“We sell beautiful things but people aren’t just buying that, they are buying good feelings, reconnecting with their community and giving back,” Ms Shuwalow says.