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Waking hours... A day in the life of the Galway woman who puts bloom in a box

Aveline O'Sullivan (43) is the owner of Bloom in a Box. Before setting up this business, she worked in the corporate world for 20 years. She lives in Galway with her husband, Denis, and their children - Isabelle (10) and Finn (9)


Aveline O'Sullivan, owner of Bloom in a Box

Aveline O'Sullivan, owner of Bloom in a Box

Aveline O'Sullivan, owner of Bloom in a Box

My alarm goes off at 6.05am. Mornings are important to me. I'm constantly on the phone for work, so before I do all of that, I need time for myself.

I come downstairs to have my own little peace and quiet. I turn on the kettle and I just listen. Even when I am pouring my water into my teabag, I am thinking my cup is full. I believe in gratitude so much. If I can't do that to start my day, then I'm cranky all day. It's my little thing for me before everybody gets up. My husband, Denis, is in the house with our two children, Isabelle and Finn.

At 6.30am every morning, I go on a Zoom call with some amazing people. We're all sitting in our pyjamas, but we don't put on our cameras. We're following a course about journaling and writing down our gratitude. We talk about what we want to achieve for the day. It's my sacred space and it focuses the mind. It works because it's the power of the group. I have rediscovered myself because of journaling.

After my son was born, I hit rock bottom. I ruptured my womb and everything in my body broke down for three years. I had to put myself back together. Women are so good at being martyrs and I was one of those. Perfectionism is exhausting. Now I just do what is good for me.

You go through so many different emotions in life and a lot of the time we are our own self-critics, very hard on ourselves and self-sabotaging. I don't do that any more. I'm 43 and I think that I have finally released the key to make people feel good with my new online business - Bloom in a Box.

Bloom in a Box is a single flower in a patented box, which comes in the post. I started it in 2015. I check stock and orders and I email my suppliers.

For 20 years, I worked in telecoms and then I took redundancy. I do a lot of visualisation and then things happen to me. I remember driving by a flower shop and I said, 'I'm going to own that flower shop,' and the following year, I did. I opened two flower shops in Galway with my sisters.

I took a couple of years off to be with my kids. Then, I was running the florists in the background. Everybody should take a turn to be in retail or work as a waitress - just dealing with the public.

When I was in the florists, I liked it because flowers make people feel good, but I was also frustrated that you had to pay expensive delivery charges to get a bouquet brought down the road.

Women used to come into me and say, 'I don't want to spend a lot of money, yet I don't want to buy flowers in a supermarket.' There was a gap.

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Also, you can't send a bouquet of flowers to a woman who has miscarried, or a lady who is going through a chemotherapy journey. But you want her to know that you are thinking about her. So you send this bloom, it is already in water, in a vial, so it doesn't need a vase.

When I had the idea, I took myself off to a designer in Dublin and I drew out the box. It took months for him to design it.

We had to get it right, because when I ship it in the post, this box can topple 48 times. So it has to sit perfectly, stay perfectly and the temperature has to stay right. The flower is always drinking water and the vial is sealed, so there is a vacuum. My seal doesn't allow bacteria in. The idea with the box is that there is this childlike sense of wonder as you open it. What's in the box?

Even though I started the business in 2015, it took a long time to get it up and running. I really only started giving it a go this February and then there was Covid-19. Thank god for An Post. If I didn't have them, I wouldn't have been shipping flowers. It's an Irish business. I get the vial made in a car-manufacturing plant in Clare and I get the boxes in Limerick.

We did well in Covid-19. We found that people were connecting with their mothers and grandmothers and the people that they couldn't hug who were in hospitals and nursing homes. We had a lot of people who couldn't get married. So people were sending them blooms saying: 'You should be walking up the aisle today.' And some were supposed to be doing IVF but it had been put on hold.

People want to send something that is affordable and beautiful and mark what they are trying to say. I wanted flowers that women recognise, so we have sunflowers, gerberas, peony roses and orchids.

I love to cook and every evening I make a big deal about us all sitting down and having dinner together. As we chat, we have to tell each other about our favourite part of the day. I'm trying to teach my kids that there is always a favourite part of the day. Then, once a week, I ask them to tell me about something that didn't go well and then I say, 'That's not failure, that's fun'. They laugh at me. I'm not on a high all the time, but I try to find the wonderment in everything. I think we have a duty to make kids see the wonder.

Denis, my husband, is incredibly calm and he never tries to change me. He is my canvas board. Every night we try to watch Netflix together but I always fall asleep halfway through. Then he has to start at the beginning again because if he watches an episode without me, I feel like he is cheating on me. Needless to say, when I get to bed, I've no problem sleeping.




Bloom in a Box costs €25, plus €4 for nationwide delivery

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