“I think that women don’t get their flowers for all that they do—all the hard work they put in, all the long hours, all the selflessness, and all the things that women endure that they don’t often get recognition for,” says Gena Bushnell, Founder of Give Girls Flowers, a wellness community for women. “I just wanted to create something that allowed a space for that.”
Gena is a Philadelphia native, but is currently located in Los Angeles, California where her mission to create an inclusive and empowering community for women of all backgrounds is playing out in a major way. Give Girls Flowers does a variety of community engagement from organizing donation drives for those experiencing homelessness, registering people to vote, hosting events on sexual health, and organizing group hikes.
Tell us who you are and what you do.
My name is Gena and this year I founded Give Girls Flowers, a wellness community for women to heal, grow, and encourage one another. We host different events—I had a hike, it was my first event and I attend stuff like the sound bath that I met you at. Throughout the summer, I was registering people to vote and I had a vision board party—so events that are meant to bring like-minded women together so that they can get to know one another, get to know what you’re passionate about, and can encourage one another to do those things that we care about.
Nice! I know the name is Give Girls Flowers, so whenever I got my little succulent I just felt so special in that moment, but I wasn’t aware of all the things that you do, so thank you for enlightening me! What inspired you to create Give Girls Flowers?
The biggest inspiration behind it was me losing my mom—six years ago my mom passed away and that was a reminder that we need to give people their flowers while they can smell them. Most importantly, I think that women don’t get their flowers for all that they do—all the hard work they put in, all the long hours, all the selflessness, and all the things that women endure that they don’t often get recognition for. I just wanted to create something that allowed a space for that.
That’s great! And is it solely based in Los Angeles?
So, I live in LA but I’m originally from Philly, so a couple of my events have been in Philly. The goal is to have it in different cities as the awareness about the brand grows.
I can see that flourishing. That would be great especially with what you’re doing and the specific community. I think it’s needed for sure. I’m quite fond of your Instagram page. I follow you on Instagram and you share empowering messages and you also plug your followers in on what’s happening in the community. What are the advantages of utilizing social media to get your messages across?
So many people are just stuck in the house and looking for some type of motivation, something to lift them up. I’m just looking for a way to get that across. I think it’s hard to find someone who isn’t on social media all day and who’s not using their phone all day. I think it reaches our audience, which is young women. Also, it’s something that not only the people who follow me will be able to benefit from. I try to post things that people will share—that they think other people will relate to.
I love whenever I come across a post on my feed. It’s just all positivity and more than likely I needed it in that moment, so I’m glad that I follow you. I see that Give Girls Flowers is big on giving back to the community. What are some things you’ve done to lend support within the community?
Right now, I’m doing Girls Giving where I’m having people donate items or donate money so that I can put together care packages for the homeless. I went to an event earlier this year where they said coolers are the most important item for someone to have when homeless. So, I’m going to buy some coolers with insulated bags and fill them up with food, masks, hand sanitizer—I reached out to a couple of people who work more closely with the homeless community to see exactly what they need, but I’m just going to fill up coolers with a bunch of stuff that people who are experiencing homelessness could use right now.
Are you usually doing this by yourself or do you have a team of people who are helping you?
No, it’s just me right now. I’m sure that people would be willing to help, but I guess with needing to social distance and stay separate from people I’m just doing it on my own. Earlier this year when I had in-person events, I had people bring toiletry items, so there are opportunities to help, but right now it’s just me.
I can see how Covid has impacted all of the in-person volunteering and connections. How can others support you in this?
Right now, I’m just asking for people—I know that it is the holiday season and not everyone is able to give a monetary donation or give a physical donation, but maybe they know people who can. Most importantly I’m just asking people to help me get the word out, to share the flyers with people, and to donate. I’m asking for monetary donations to help me fill up the care packages that I mentioned so that I can get them distributed. I’m trying to do it every other week and keep getting them out to people.
Before Covid, did you receive any kind of pushback or did you have any difficult moments when you founded your platform?
Well, it really came about early this year, I think about June. And I think the biggest pushback, honestly—and this is going to sound so silly—was myself. I was just like unsure what people would think. I was unsure if people would support it. I didn’t know the right way to go about certain things. So, I think the biggest obstacle has been putting faith in myself and believing that if I want to do it then I can do it and it’s been getting so much support from my friends and family and people I don’t even know! I have to stop stopping myself.
That’s a good message because I feel like anyone who’s starting something is in that questioning stage or that self-doubt stage. But then you just have to do it and you realize, I was worrying all this time and now look at what I’m contributing—you have a great mission. What is one of your proudest accomplishments of Give Girls Flowers?
One of the events that I had recently was in Philly and we called it Girl Talk. It was about women’s health and just really bringing girls together to talk about things that are stigmatized like birth control, sex, all types of things relating to women’s health. That idea came from one of my friends who I hadn’t really talked to or seen in a long time. I think the biggest thing that makes me proud is that I’m inspiring other women to step into a space where they want to reach out and give back in whatever way they can—because she’s a nurse and was like I have this information; I have this knowledge and you have a platform so I want us to work together and have an event. That’s really one of the most rewarding things about what I’m doing is having other women wanting to collaborate and wanting to work on things that they wouldn’t have done otherwise.
Stay connected with Give Girls Flowers via Instagram.