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Flower power


“Believe in yourself, it may take you longer than the average person, but it is worth it.” The wise words of small business owner Alex Jarvis.


by Rebecca Mugridge


Alex Jarvis is a talented florist and small business owner in Nambour, running Alex’s Little Bouquets, but her story isn’t just about her beautiful flowers. Alex is an inspiration and an incredible role model to the thousands of people living with disability.


When she found it hard to find employment that worked for her, she created her own job, by creating her own small business. Alex had a dream and she made it happen. Her tenacious spirit made her dream become reality and it took a lot of self-belief, planning, hard work and determination.


“My mum always taught me to find a will and a way,” Alex says.


For many people living with a disability, employment can be problematic, difficult to find and to manage, and can even in some situations be traumatic.


According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics approximately 45.2% (40,300) of employed people with disability in Australia reported that they experienced discrimination or unfair conditions directly due to their disability by their employer. And 42% (37,400) further reported they experienced direct discrimination or unfair treatment, due to their disability, from their work colleagues.


The negative experiences can start as early as primary school.


“I got told I was dumb once when I was in primary school,” recounts Alex sadly, who like many neurodiverse people found the school environment difficult and joining the workforce afterwards even harder, especially with an invisible disability.


But Alex has come out the other side accomplished, successful and eager to inspire others.


“Just because you have a condition, doesn’t mean you are hindered,” says Alex. "I have lived with neurodivergent conditions all of my life, which has made finding employment difficult for me. Choosing to look at such adversity from a different perspective has inspired me to create my own business and create my work.


“You have to focus on your passions and strengths.”


Alex is now a qualified florist with diplomas in Business and Business Management and a University Diploma in Creative Industries. She has created a home-based floristry business, sourcing products, securing stockists and creating an online sales platform and teaching workshops.


“I'm creating interest now for winter and early spring six-week workshops, where I will be doing fresh arrangements and teaching others how to do them,” Alex shares.


Supporting local growers is something she is also proud of. “I get my dried flowers locally if I can, and my natives and fresh-cut natives from West Woombye.”


Alex’s carer, Sandra Gorry, says Alex’s biggest motivation comes from her own determination.


“Her biggest driver is herself. She doesn’t want to give up, she wants to reach her dreams. I’ve only known Alex for about a year, but she is well on her way.


“As a team we had a business meeting this morning. Alex is very responsive to constructive criticism and our views, and we are learning from her too. Today we learnt about direct sales and wholesale sales. It gets hard [running a business] but she doesn’t give up.” Sandra says with a smile.


For Alex flowers have always been something she was drawn to.


“I have been doing floristry for 15 odd years now. I had found it impossible to find work in strict environments, so I started my own business where I can work my own hours,” she explains.


“I have always had a knack of pulling different colours together. Even things you wouldn’t think would go together, I can make it work. I used to be a really good artist so I try to incorporate art into my floristry work.


“It is a lot of work, but I do have a great team behind me, and my mum is part of that team.”


The key to success, Alex points out, being prepared and planning well, not rushing in. “I have my grandfather's words in my head a lot of the time, go slowly - slow and steady wins the race.”


Alex has put an impressive amount of extensive planning and research into her business model to back the beautiful creative work she does as a florist.


She enlisted the help of mentors in her grandfather and her sister and brother-in-law, who have owned a business, and even sought out advice from someone who has had a business and been bankrupt so she could learn from them too.


It is all paying off, with her flowers proving a local success story and fast becoming a loved, local, small business. Stockists can be found in Nambour, Eudlo and Sippy Downs.

And Alex also has big plans for the future, aiming to eventually have a shopfront.


“It is my hope and dream to grow my online business enough to hire other people with neurodiverse conditions so they can be provided with a step into the workforce.”


Alex’s Little Bouquets is an online florist that you can find on Facebook or at alexslittlebouquets.net



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