Sydney startup Caring Canary is an online gift boutique with a focus on care packages for people with cancer

- July 18, 2016 3 MIN READ
Caring Canary

When loved ones and friends are suffering it’s thoughtful to send a get well card with flowers and chocolates, with creative hamper and gift delivery companies like The Fresh Flower Project and Edible Blooms helping people send packages of flowers and assorted food. However, these gifts are rather generic and lack thoughtful items that people can really use – from a personal experience with cancer, there are many times when people can’t or don’t want to eat, so a gift like chocolates is usually divided among other family members. The gift delivery space greatly lacks a service that is tailored made to people suffering and especially those who suffer from cancer.

According to Cancer Australia, there will be more than 130,000 people around the country living with cancer this year alone. With the number of cancer sufferers increasing the need for thoughtful gift services also increases. There are many sites that show you how to DIY your own chemo care package, but less that actually offer the service.

Sydney startup Caring Canary is one such service that offers handmade care packages for people suffering with cancer and going through the tough journey of chemotherapy. Founder of Caring Canary Georgie Harley said this is the first of its kind in Australia and fills the gap in the market for convenient, meaningful and premium gifts.

“If someone wants to send a more meaningful gift than a bunch of flowers or box of chocolates then Caring Canary can be their one-stop shop,” she said.

Caring Canary packages are filled with healthy treats, magazines, socks, beanies, tea, and tailor-made items that make more of an impact than flowers that will die and chocolates that won’t be eaten. On the site there are 32 different varieties of care packages, sorted into different categories from ‘Chemo Kits’ to ‘Get Well’ and ‘Sympathy.’ Among the get well packages there are also other categories for new mums, weddings, and love.

All packages also come with an inspirational card and an uplifting quote to make the gift personalised and thoughtful.

“It’s always those sorts of thoughtful gifts that you remember forever. Everyone gets flowers, but if you receive a parcel that has nourishing treats and your favourite magazine and your favourite type of tea that someone’s really thought about, it makes more of an impact,” said Harley.

The idea for Caring Canary came from Harley’s personal experience with loss and suffering. It was during the time when her dad was suffering from cancer that she saw how much people wanted to reach out and help.

“When I was caring for dad I saw friends send over the top bunches of flowers, which seemed inappropriate. They also sent generic hampers filled with shortbread and chutneys, which obviously he couldn’t eat, he was on chemo, so those of things just didn’t help at all,” she said.

While caring for her dad, Harley started making care packages for other friends, family and colleagues on the side. Through her experiences Caring Canary was created and launched in May last year to offer curated meaningful care packages to a wider audience.

Today Caring Canary has moved from a small time gift service to an Australia-wide care package delivery company. Depending on location, packages can be delivered on the same day or within two to three business days. Packages start from $72 and offer premium items that are sourced from local Australian businesses.

With Harley’s focus on packages for people with cancer, the ‘Ultimate Chemo’ has become quite popular, and is now delivered to hospitals and ICU units for people who can’t accept flowers, fruits or certain foods. The care package offers lollies to combat nausea and organic moisturisers for dry and sensitive skin.

Caring Canary has also become another distribution channel for small businesses like beauty and body care provider Wild Healing, handmade chocolate boutique Lixie, and candle company Ecoya.

For a service like Caring Canary there is also a large global audience to tap into. Australian-made products are in short supply overseas and Harley believes a market like the US will be her next point of investigation.

Over the next 12 months Harley expects to triple the size of the business by growing its corporate arm. Through growth Harley also looks to streamline and automate the business so that she can step out of the day-to-day packaging.

In the online delivery space perfecting logistics and back end operations is a challenging task to say the least. However with more shipping companies like Shippit and Sendle providing fast and affordable service, startups like Caring Canary have the chance to scale rapidly and target niche community areas both locally and internationally.

Image: Georgia Harley. Source: Supplied.