When the dynamic Brisbane-based Juliette Wright was inundated with baby gifts after the arrival of her second child, she decided to do more than simply leave them out the front of her local charity store. The surprising realisation that most charities have a need for specific items rather than bags of unwanted goods sparked something in Juliette’s mind that combined a philanthropic spirit with an unbridled need to make a difference, and that’s how her charity GIVIT was born...
The online platform works directly with charities to help source essential items that will help those in need – meaning charities aren’t overloaded with unwanted items. The premise of matching donations with specific requests played a vital role in the 2011 Queensland floods, where GIVIT managed to source and match over 33,500 donations in three weeks to those affected. This feat also saw Juliette honoured with the 2015 Local Hero Award by the National Australia Day Council. Juliette’s passion for community and her drive to alleviate poverty are nothing short of inspirational. Ahead of Mother’s Day, she tells us how GIVIT and motherhood help gives her a balanced and meaningful life.
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What was the best and worst part of being pregnant?
The first day I found out has to be the greatest moment of my life. After doing IVF and falling pregnant it was like winning the love lotto. The worst? The pain! The last trimester was a constant pain in both pregnancies. I think my hip pain at one point was so bad I was unable to walk.
Describe the first six weeks of motherhood in three words…
They grow fast!
Did you appreciate your mum more after having children?
Yes and I think my mum appreciates me more as a mum too, oddly.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your seven-year-old self?
I had this conversation with my 11-year-old today. I would say “relax, things are not as important as you think they are! Think about how important this is out of ten. If someone is badly hurt, this is a ten… so it’s not that bad you forgot your school hat – it is not a ten!”
We’re often rushing. Do you ever sit back and feel proud of yourself?
Once a year, after Christmas. Maybe on Boxing Day!
What clichés of motherhood do you think are unfair?
That mums can do everything.
How does the #metoo movement effect raising boys and girls today?
I’m incredibly supportive of this important movement and watching it with great interest. Without it, our daughters will say #metoo and I am determined not to have my daughter’s fate like my own and most other women who have been made to feel uncomfortable or abused and raped, while the men have not been persecuted and have been protected.
How did your approach to body image change after you had kids? How do you approach self-love?
I still battle with my size and have to eat well, but my daughter thinks I am so beautiful and my son thinks I’m a “really pretty mum”. Honestly, that’s really all that matters to me these days. My husband, well he has to love me, right?!
GIVIT is an online platform that connects those in need with life-changing items in a safe environment - can you tell us how the idea and website came to life?
When my son was very young he had clothes he had never worn that were gifts from friends and family. I decided to donate these clothes to a charity, but I could not find a charity to take them, so I started to ask them what they did need. I was immediately fascinated and realised that there was no easy way for charities to request the daily needs of their clients – so I started GIVIT.
What was your career background before GIVIT and did it help shape your role as an entrepreneur and philanthropist?
I was a naturopath and nutritionist. I think it did play a part in GIVIT because I was always just keen to give my clients exactly what they needed. I knew after I had children that I didn’t want to work one-on-one anymore as I would often be too empathic, or too sympathetic with my clients as a clinician. GIVIT is perfect for me as I can help lots of people but I am a little separated from the pain and poverty and isolation people feel that I support.
GIVIT played a vital role in the devastating loss of the 2011 Queensland floods - what did this tragic time teach you about community and connection?
Yes, it was an honour to support charities and people affected by TC Yasi and the Queensland floods. GIVIT managed over 33,500 donations in three weeks and the website had 1.8 million hits in ten days. It was like the website had also been hit by a cyclone – a cyclone of generosity.
You were awarded the 2015 Local Hero Award by the National Australia Day Council, how does an honour like that make you feel?
Oh, well that’s still hard to believe.
What advice would you give to other women wanting to start their own business and make change?
Please never, never, never, never, never, never give up.
What are your mum hacks?
I do “bullet journaling” to manage and handle my to-do lists! My calendar and inbox can’t manage my life, as I also organise a family, and a farm (we have a grazing property in NSW).
What are your favourite things to do together as a family?
We love to go to the beach and to our farm. On our farm we work the cattle, fossick in the creek and kayak.
Describe a typical weekend...
At the moment it’s soccer and a barbecue.
How do you balance motherhood and marriage?
The kids feel the love so we have to ensure we take the time out for ourselves as a couple and enjoy our marriage (while not being parents).
How will you be spending Mother’s Day?
With my mother-in-law this year, as my mum will be in Ireland with our family.
SHOP: Juliette wears Sportscraft Chantilly Wrap Knit, $199.99
Coffee or tea?
Tea x 10.
What would we always find in your fridge?
Goat’s cheese, feta, tomatoes and hummus.
What is your go-to kids dinner when you’re in a rush?
Crumbed chicken and pasta!
Are you binge-watching anything on TV at the moment?
Just finished The Crown – LOVED IT.
What’s your definition of self-care and how do you make time for it?
I love yoga, it works the whole treatment for my mind, body and spirit. I love taking time out from the busy world.