Let's TOC Issue #6: Hazel from BloomBack

In this issue of Let’s TOC, we speak with Hazel Kweh from BloomBack, an ex-Singapore Girl who has worked in various capacities before moving into social entrepreneurship. And it all began with Hazel’s unwavering determination to bring her sister out of a dark period three years ago.

The four musketeers of BloomBack, from left to right: Zech, Hazel (founder), Faith and Silvia.

BloomBack is a local start-up that aims to empower marginalised communities and spread love and hope – using flowers.

When we asked Hazel if there was any flower that resonated with her, she chose wildflowers. “Wildflowers (typically) grow in the wild (without human intervention); not intentionally seeded or planted.”, she explained. “To me, wildflowers represent resilience amidst rest and are a reflection of my life.”

Growing up in a single-parent household, Hazel witnessed how her mother struggled to raise three siblings. She also bore witness to the challenges her sister, Faith, experienced in job hunting due to a partial visual impairment. These got Hazel thinking that she had to work doubly hard to provide for her family of four in order to get ahead in life; intentionally seeding and planting for many things, be it in sales or her flight career. It took spiritual faith to turn things around – as she learnt to let go and to trust the process.

I believe that charity starts from within and I should help my family members first, before I can convince other people that this can be done.

Sourcing her inspiration to reach out to marginalised women, Hazel also shared, “I believe that charity starts from within and I should help my family members first, before I can convince other people that this can be done.” And these life encounters were what paved the way for her entrepreneurial journey today.

Planting Smiles with the Brand

BloomBack conveys a sense of purpose and meaning in the gifting process – with every gift lovingly handcrafted by marginalised individuals such as single mothers or the hearing-impaired. As a social enterprise, BloomBack also practises environmental responsibility by opting for preserved flowers that are eco-friendly and can last up to three years without maintenance.

We aim to be a brand that helps to build empathy, strengthen social bonds, and plant smiles every time you gift with us.

One of BloomBack’s gift ideas that comes with flowers and a greeting card - the More than Words flower dome.

BloomBack also incorporates mental health benefits in their products, e.g. the music from their Bluetooth speakers, scent diffusers, flowers and words of expression on greeting cards. These are all proven to improve mental wellness and spark positivity in recipients; consistent with the value proposition of their business.

(We create a) culture (where) everyone feels safe to be themselves - unafraid to show their weaknesses or voice out. BloomBack values learning more than failure.

What sets BloomBack apart is their internal branding. Their employees behave like true brand ambassadors and this is weaved into their day-to-day interactions.

In a fast-paced and performance-driven environment as with most start-ups, Hazel acknowledged that it can get “very stressful at times”. She then quoted one of her employees as an example – a beneficiary who has chronic medical conditions and is sometimes unable to work. “The rest of the team members are always willing to take on additional workload or adapt to her irregular working hours whenever she is unable to complete her tasks on time”, she explained. And this creates an empathetic and open culture where everyone is unafraid to share their weaknesses or ask for help.

Learning together in one of their workshops-for-good.

BloomBack is currently a small team of 10 full-time employees – of which 5 are from the marginalised communities, including a single mother, a physically disabled individual, and an ex-offender. Based on their strengths and weaknesses, employees are assigned roles they are able to excel in – making every employee an indispensable member of the team.

Weathering through COVID-19

“During a crisis is where people feel lost or fearful, and uncertain of what the future holds”, Hazel remarked. In a bid to spread love and hope, the team initiated the Bloom It Forward movement to show their appreciation for the frontline workers – the unsung heroes who have gone the extra mile to keep us safe.

Unprecedented times like this has also shown to be a blessing in disguise. Hazel reminisced about the heartwarming memory of like-minded people from the community coming together to join the movement. And that allowed them to “spread love with flowers and plant more than 350 smiles”.

A gesture of appreciation for our frontline workers through the Bloom It Forward movement.

BloomBack, like many other businesses, was heavily impacted by the outbreak of the pandemic – particularly the organisation of their workshops-for-good. But the team was not deterred and their brainstorming sessions birthed a new offering: DIY BBCraft kits. Not only was it accessible to all ages, it also provided an opportunity for family bonding. By pivoting their business model with an extension in their product offering, BloomBack was able to weather the storm brought on by the coronavirus.

Rather than just a moment, I’d say that my proudest achievement till date would be winning the trust and love of customers and building a community of support and like-minded people, whose values are aligned with ours.

Ascribing her proudest achievement to the people she has crossed paths with, Hazel asserted that Bloomback “definitely wouldn’t have made it this far without the support of like-minded stakeholders in this ecosystem”.

Going beyond BloomBack’s clientele, this community extends to like-minded people from all walks of life e.g. friends, employees, partners such as fellow florists and volunteers. And winning the trust and love of this community is akin to reaping fruits of the team’s efforts in creating a social impact through BloomBack.

Extending the community to all walks of life.

Germinating Seeds of Love and Hope

“Oftentimes, people buy gifts because they have unspoken words and feelings that are better expressed through such gifts”, Hazel gathered. “Staying true to our mission, we want to enhance people’s gifting experience, and expand our offerings by bringing personalisation to an entire new level, so that they can convey their thoughts and feelings with ease.”

BloomBack exists to spread love and hope to the communities through conscious gifting.

With an omni-channel marketing strategy in mind, Hazel envisions BloomBack to be a community-based retail platform where people can “come together to share their stories and inspire each other”. Apart from integrating both offline in-store experiences with online retail strategies in the future, Hazel maintained the importance of “keep(ing) customers at the heart of our efforts” in order to deliver a seamless shopping experience for them.

Businesses are run by people and if you put people first, things will continue to blossom. Bloom one step at a time and trust the journey even when you don’t understand it.

We would like to thank Hazel for sharing about BloomBack’s story with us, as well as leaving us with these wise words. BloomBack is now accepting requests for their workshops-for-good on a case-by-case basis in compliance with COVID-19 regulations. You can also contribute to the community by shopping on their online platform here to support marginalised individuals in their floral creations. Part of the proceeds also go to upgrading the skills of BloomBack’s artisans.

TOC

Read our previous Let’s TOC Issue with Valarie from GreenSpade here!

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