Inspiration, Issue 25

Spotlight: Hazel Kweh Founder Of Bloomback

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Spotlight: Hazel Kweh Founder Of Bloomback

A former air stewardess and financial planner, Hazel was the last person to think that she would one day run a social enterprise. Hazel is the founder of Bloomback, a company aiming to advocate a floral movement that benefits underprivileged communities, with a special focus on marginalised women, by helping them achieve financial independence and dignity. Here is her story!

First of all, what does Bloomback mean?

I think the name speaks for itself! ‘Bloom’ represents flowers — we use flowers to help marginalised or underprivileged women gain back their lost confidence and their dignity, encouraging them to keep blooming. And ‘back’ is to let them know we have their back, our way of giving back to the community in that sense.

How did the idea for Bloomback first begin?

It came about as a passion project. My sister was experiencing depression, and she had difficulty finding a job due to her visual and hearing impairment. I was attending a friend’s wedding, and she asked me to bring her flowers home and share the joy with other people because she knew that I loved flowers. And I thought, “Rather than just bring it home, why not repurpose it and bring it to hospitals with my sister?” I thought it might help my sister to do that. But it was too last minute, so when we approached hospitals, they were not able to take them.

So instead, we distributed the flowers to the lower- income residents at Beach Road. We just went door- to-door and gave them flowers! That’s how it started. For my sister, it was impactful for her to see the less- fortunate in Singapore, and she told me, “When there are such things, can you involve me again?”

It was a one-off event, but after that, the hospitals got back to us and said that this was a meaningful movement that we could do more frequently. So yeah, we did this a couple of times, and as a result also received good feedback from florists who wanted to see the flowers they used for events and weddings have a second life to bless others.

Bloomback is now a social enterprise that does more than just repurpose flowers. How did the original idea evolve into the final product?

While working with florists, I found that they also have challenges in their daily job. For example, they have difficulties finding customers, and the online market is pushing brick-and-mortar stores out of business. I realised that actually, we are in this together as a community, we are like-minded, and I want to help all these big-hearted florists, so why not create a system to help these florist, and at the same time, share this movement with more people?

I got to know more about social enterprises, how they function, and what I have to do in order to keep this movement running and sustainable. We decided to create a marketing platform for these florists to promote their businesses, and at the same time, a portion of the proceeds from sales can be donated to help this movement to repurpose flowers. That’s how we began!

What difficulties have you faced in the process?

Most people think that flowers are a good-to-have, not a must-have. Flowers are deemed luxury products that just die quickly. It’s been difficult to educate people that flowers are not just luxury gifts, but can be very meaningful. For example, according to Harvard research, patients who have plants and flowers in their room recover 30% faster than those without. Specific to Bloomback, we want people to know that when you buy flowers to cheer people up, the cycle doesn’t just stop there — you’re actually helping women in need as well, and the cycle of giving back actually goes on.


How has your life’s journey affected your current career?

I was actually born in a low-income, single-parent family, so all along I was the only one supporting the family even though I’m the youngest. I had to be the pillar of the family, so prior to knowing Jesus, I was always out, trying to earn money to get out of the cycle of poverty. There was a lot of bitterness against my family, to the extent that I even moved out to live on my own. I thought that would bring me peace, but it actually made me lonelier than ever.

I couldn’t deal with the loneliness, and I had no one I could turn to. That’s when I just cried out to God one day and said, “If You’re really there, then just make me feel peaceful.” And after praying, really, I felt the peace. That was the first time in my life that I just sat there, very still, and I finished reading a whole book that a Christian friend passed to me a week before. I think in a way, my friend was God’s way of reaching out to me. The book, Purpose Driven Life was what convinced me to become a Christian.

So now, in a social enterprise that will not earn me much, I’ve had to adjust my expectations. My career was at its peak, everything seemed good, but inside of me, I did not feel complete. I was lonely and I didn’t have love for my family. It was really just by accepting Christ that my family ties were restored and my priorities in life adjusted. God reminds me that “Hey, since you already embarked on the journey, where money doesn’t complete you, so here’s what you can do — try my path, I’ll walk you through it.”

Is this experience with your family where your passion comes from?

It is definitely the main driving force, because I understand how marginalised women feel. I mean, I’m not like my sister, I wasn’t born with disabilities and I’m quite fortunate, but having been in the family situation as a whole, I felt that I was marginalised in a way because I had to go through what they’re going through and I didn’t have any help. I want to do something to help other women as well, and it’s only through my personal experiences that I can convince other people that even though I am not in your shoes, I know how you feel, but I’m dealing okay, and  it’s not the end of the world. And coupled with having Jesus, you know, that gave me the extra push, to know that I’m not alone— I have Jesus in the midst of my work, my family, and He’s helping to restore everything in my life.

Finally, what do you want to be most remembered for?

I guess it boils down to my brand’s name — Bloomback. I want people to know that whether they are waiting to bloom, are already blooming, or feel like they have stopped blooming, in their up or down times, they always have something to give back to the community. This is a community of love that motivates one another, using flowers as a vehicle to change lives, and I want to be known for providing the platform for this to happen!

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