How The Beautiful Bunch Florist Supports Refugee Women

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Social entrepreneurship has always come naturally to Jane Marx.

The Melbourne-based entrepreneur was the co-founder of Long Street Cafea café that employed refugees, before creating Trade Route Events — an event-driven social enterprise that provides training and employment opportunities to young women from refugee backgrounds who face barriers to employment.

At the height of lockdown in 2020, she launched her next social enterprise – this time, in floristry. The beautiful pack hiring refugee women and training them for at least six months.

“I’ve always been interested in testing different business models and markets and challenging what can be done with social enterprise,” she said. Women’s program.

Marx also spent years teaching English to residents of central Melbourne public housing, sharing his passion for the language while indulging his love of meeting new people.

“I love feeling like I made them feel a little less alone and that they had someone outside of their immediate network that they could share their stories with,” she said.

Marx recognized that young refugee women face some of the biggest obstacles when trying to find a job in Australia – and she wanted to help them.

“When I was younger I got hired for a lot of jobs that I wasn’t qualified for, a lot of people gave me the benefit of the doubt and the opportunity to prove myself,” Marx said. .

“However, our interns don’t have the same opportunity, people don’t hire them for jobs with little experience, but they have so much potential – it’s just a matter of fairness and my own personal belief in their ability to do whatever they put their heart and mind to.

Prior to The Beautiful Bunch, Marx had been running Merchant Road Events for three years and the business and its social impact were, she says, “on a very good trajectory”.

“We were looking to scale when we took over running a 200-seat venue in Fitzroy North, just two months before the pandemic hit,” she said.

But when the first lockdown was announced in Melbourne, Merchant “went into a tailspin overnight”.

“I woke up one morning and realized I had to write off tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid bills and then let the whole team know we couldn’t operate,” she said. “It was heartbreaking.”

Marx was also pregnant with her second daughter.

“I had to try to stay positive about the future for her,” she said.

Marx spent a few months thinking about what to do next, consulting with Merchant trainees and asking them what their favorite part of the training was. They came back to her and told her that they appreciated the floral elements in the events the most.

“It’s very creative and it doesn’t require intense social interaction like a lot of other jobs do,” Marx said.

She knelt, studying economic trends, industry data and other “textbook things you’re supposed to do when you start a business.”

“I remember reading somewhere that online retail floristry grew 500% during the first lockdown!” says Marx. “From that moment, I started developing a business plan and the idea really came to life.”

The Beautiful Bunch works with a number of organizations to find the right people to join the team, helping them build confidence, skills and social networks.

Marx credits Melbourne’s hospitality community for embracing his ideals and making his social enterprise feel welcome.

“To be successful, we had to stay very outward-looking, which, thanks to a very good response from like-minded businesses and the general public, has ultimately seen us grow beyond what I could have imagine.”

Ultimately, she wants to take care of her staff and interns, providing them with a warm, welcoming and supportive work environment where they can feel safe to learn, ask questions and make mistakes.

“It’s a place where they know they have a strong network of other women who care for them, and not just a place that will give them the skills to grow, but also, I hope, they feel that no matter what happens or what they need in the future, it is a door that will always remain open to them.

This article was first published by Women’s program.

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