I was honoured to be interviewed by one of my role models – Samantha Wills. Samantha took her small Bondi market stall and turned it into a trailblazing International brand. I also happen to really like her jewellery 😉 I was blown away when Samantha asked to interview me about Caring Canary, after she had learned what inspired me to start the business. Here is an excerpt of the interview, and if you want to read more about my business journey and all the highs and lows to date, feel free to check out the full interview on her website: The Samantha Wills Foundation – Be Inspired Interview
With love and gratitude, Georgia xx
What is the long version of how you got to where you are today?
Well it all began one hot Summer day in Paddington, 29 years ago. I had a great childhood, growing up in the Sydney ‘burbs with my parents, brother and sister. Mum and dad were great entertainers and our house was always filled with friends, family and lots of laughter.
Fast-forward a few years and after completing high school and University, I fell into a job in television production at a small company. It was an unpaid work experience role, but after two weeks I was offered a paid gig as a Researcher on the then top-rating Channel 7 show, Find My Family. 20 years old, baby faced and fresh out of uni, I was launched into a gruelling job that tested my emotional fortitude. I was speaking to families who were torn apart by drugs and violence, mother’s who had been shamed into giving babies up for adoption, children (now adults) who had been abandoned on the doorsteps of orphanages and so on. I am grateful for my time on this show as it opened my eyes to the incredible hardships that so many people have gone through. It also made me appreciate my fairly ‘normal’ upbringing and growing up in a nurturing family.
I spent 5 years working in TV and slowly climbed the ranks, becoming an Associate Producer. This meant long days, unpaid overtime, working weekends and generally not much time for anything else. It was a hard and fun lifestyle that included high pressure working environments and long days out on location, but also meeting interesting people and having lots of fun at numerous wrap parties and launch parties.
It was at this time, in late 2012, that I received the worst news of my life. My dad, my hero, the rock of our family, sat my immediate family down one night and told us he had cancer, and that it was terminal. My stomach knotted, my heart broke and my world crumbled. Suddenly nothing in my life really seemed to matter except making sure my dad was ok, and that he was comfortable and relatively happy for however long he had left with us.
Dad was the prototype of a great father. He was my biggest champion, my mentor, my life guide. When the most important person in your life is told they have a year or less to live, something inside you re-callibrates and everything you thought was important suddenly seems trivial, and your priorities shift.
I quit my job in TV and spent every day visiting mum and dad, doing whatever I could to bring a little ray of sunshine to their darkest days. As dad became sicker, I helped mum administer his needles, ration his pills, go to hospital visits, and wait by his bedside during countless Emergency and ICU visits. It was during this time that I saw mum and dad’s friends visit, but not know what to do or say. As dad became sicker, most people stopped visiting as the situation was too confronting. Popping over with a bottle of dad’s favourite red, or bunch of flowers, didn’t seem right for this situation but they didn’t know what else they could do.
On the side, I had been creating care packages for friends and family for years. I really enjoyed seeing people’s faces light up when they received a box full of their favourite things or carefully selected items if they were sick or unwell. Combined with a little quote or inspirational card, I saw how a highly thought out and personalised gift can make a big impact on someone’s day.
Seeing how much my little care packages cheered up dad, and how friends were overwhelmed they received one of my unique gift packs, made me wonder why these sorts of gifts weren’t available for people to buy. It was during this time that the light bulb went off in my head, and I realised a care package boutique is exactly what our friends and family needed for this situation. Instead of turning away because they don’t know what to do or say, enabling them to connect with my parents through a thoughtful and useful care package would have been the ideal solution.
Dad passed away in September 2013. I had helped mum care for him for 10 months and during this time I had done a lot of introspection (soul searching sounds a bit cheesy) and knew it was time to follow my heart. Two days before dad passed away, I got a job at The Fred Hollows Foundation. This job changed my life and it was exactly where I needed to be in order to deal with the grief-stricken months that were to follow. By doing a job that fulfilled my purpose in life, I could cope with the trauma that my family was experiencing after dad died. Coming to work each day knowing that I was making a positive difference in the world fulfilled me on a personal and professional level.
Skip forward a year and although I loved my time at the charity, I knew it was time for me to move on. My care package business idea was boiling away inside me and I could no longer ignore it. I once again listened to what my heart and gut were telling me to do, and took a leap of faith into the online start up world.
I launched into ‘research’ mode, reading Tim Ferris’ 4 Hour Work Week and Lisa Messenger’s Daring and Disruptive in one weekend. I was inspired and immediately started thinking of a business name. I workshopped the name with my partner, friends and family (thank you Facebook) and registered ‘Caring Canary’ a few days later. I gave myself a timeline and a budget to get this business idea off the ground. If I didn’t have s single customer by then, I’d go back to the workforce and could say at least I gave it a go.
Caring Canary received it’s first customer on April 30th, 2015, one week before my website had officially launched and a few weeks before my deadline. I had reached my first goal and saw that people were willing to pay for a service that provided them with convenient, meaningful and premium gift options.
To read the full article, click this link.