All small businesses have a back story and all are grown from dreams, this is mine.
Sunflower and Ivy was dreamt up on a daily commute through the leafy, port-side and somewhat eclectic streets of downtown Fremantle in Western Australia. Occasionally I think about what I would have looked like, all those months ago, when all my ideas were budding in my head on those daily walks to work. Most likely my appearance gave little away as I stomped carelessly down the street, in mismatched office clothes and running shoes. It’s amazing really the worlds of magic that can be living in someone’s head and invisible to the outside world. To be truthful, I can’t really remember the day that Sunflower and Ivy became more than a fantasy. I guess like all tipping points of creation it was born from an accumulation of experiences, emotions, insights and restlessness.
Despite nurture boxes being designed for anyone in any gift situation, one of the significant influences in the idea of a nurturing gift box was hospital. In the years prior to Sunflower and Ivy, I had a few run-ins with hospitals. A knee reconstruction and appendix removal later and I had been initiated into the destabilizing and terrifying experience of an operating theatre. And was left nursing the fractured remains of the illusion that we have control of our bodies. It’s a vulnerable place to be and I quickly grew empathetic for anyone going through illness, injury and hospital stays. My disdain with gift-giving options had been long standing and peaked when I was informed that my Nanna could not receive flowers in a British hospital because of a policy founded on fear of bacteria. Disappointed by the restriction, I genuinely struggled with what to buy her from the other-side of the world in Perth, Australia. My Nanna died a short time later; a year after my Grandfather had died after being hit by a car. Both were unexpected and heartbreaking losses and inducted me into the throes of grief, along with the rest of my family. I was confronted again by the struggling gift market and as the months went on, a chocolate hamper seemed hardly appropriate for my grieving mum.
Over time I became slightly less critical of the gift market, more thorough research found some delightfully curated gift boxes with a collection of luxury and useful items. But overall my desire to create a gift that connects the recipient with the giver and the people around them on a deeper level never waned. My background in art therapy evokes a deep interest with materials and how they can be used to soothe, occupy and support a person emotionally. As a result a few art therapy inspired items can be spotted in each of the nurture boxes whether it’s a colouring mandala or breath regulating bubble activity.
Gift giving is an age old practice and we usually give gifts to communicate a sentiment to someone whether it’s to convey affection, empathy, excitement, congratulations, support or even to say we are sorry. But the thing is gifts can be empty or full of these sentiments and what you buy or spend has no guarantees. The most effective gifts are those that are thoughtful. Think about the gift card, it’s a massive risk and while i advocate caution in buying one for someone, it can, on occasion be an effective gift. For a Uni student scrimping coins a gift card for a hair and beauty parlor along with a note that says “treat yourself, you deserve it” becomes a meaningful gift. A hardware or electronic store gift card to a newly married couple in contrast is not. Sure it might be handy but It communicates little thought, is too general and is therefore likely to evoke minimal emotion. Gifts need to evoke a feeling in the people they are given to, to make them feel thought about, cared for and ultimately loved.
While we all have some pretty amusing stories of gifts gone wrong (we’ve all bought our boyfriends that purple pair of golf pants), the ritual of gift giving is vulnerable to becoming a regular disaster in our busy, consumer saturated lives. All too often we can opt for the easy option and lose sight of why we are giving someone a gift. I’ll be writing a future blog post on gift giving, including a help guide so be sure to check back if you’re interested.
I hope that nurture boxes change someone’s gift giving experience. That someone can buy a box when the hospital their loved one is in says no flowers. I hope that nurture boxes provide a little relief to someone doing it tough, that the postcards brighten their bedside table and the activities occupy them on a dark day. I hope that nurture boxes make a giver feel less helpless and that those keeping the receiver company can be prompted to provide further care by the “I need voucher booklet”. I hope that nurture boxes inspire people to think about the way they give gifts and how to show they care about someone, in situations we all feel a little lost in.
I am excited by the potential of Nurture Boxes, with many plans in the pipeline and a growing range of gift boxes to come in the year ahead. You’ll see my art therapy practice run alongside the gift department of Sunflower and Ivy and notice its subtle collaboration with nurture boxes on occasion. And you’ll also find me regularly on the blog writing late into the night. Expect to find a mix of professional and personal blog posts, interviews with inspiring people, book reviews as well as some handy resources and tips among the food for thought. But woven between this eclectic mix of subject matter will be me, an ocean-loving country girl, walking down the street, dreaming up way’s to have a positive impact on the world. So like all things in life, take it all with a pinch of salt, make it your own and use it for good.