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What Time Has Told: 20s, Nip Wijewickrema

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These days, we know age is no barrier to experience and youth is no barrier to wisdom.

For our latest HerCanberra Magazine: Time, we asked eight women across eight decades what life has taught them.

Nip Wijewickrema

Nip Wijewickrema is a social entrepreneur who founded family business GG’s Flowers and Hampers at 20-years-old, out of a desire to create meaningful career paths for people with disabilities.

Last year she was the recipient of a Westpac Social Change Fellowship, which saw her travel to Harvard to undertake professional development. But as she puts it, it’s not all sunshine and roses.

What would you tell yourself at age 20?

Chill out and enjoy life. I was so busy trying to smash goals that I forgot to smash the goal of living life. Happy to report I’m kinda there now…maybe more to go.

Best piece of advice you’ve been given?

“We don’t all have a lot of money but what we do have is time”. Sometimes ‘time’ can be the most powerful thing you can give someone else—or even yourself!

This is kinda ironic coming from someone like me who literally prays every day to have 27 hours in the day. I can definitely get caught up in the ‘busy’ and the ‘no-time’ vicious cycle. Sometimes, you just have to shut up and make time.

Career-wise, are you where you thought you’d be? What would you tell those who are at the start of their careers?

Absolutely not. I 100 per cent thought I’d be a journalist or public servant working in communications and media with a consistent salary, superannuation and flex time. You know, utilising my degree I spent thousands of dollars and hours on?

However, I’m just not there. Sure, I’m running my own show, literally winging it and having the best time ever. But with that comes a lot of worry, pressure and financial ties. In my mind, my younger self saw myself married, housed and stable career-ed by now. I literally couldn’t be further from that distant memory. But honestly, I wouldn’t change a thing. I love every moment of the work I do.

I think my best piece of advice would be to make sure you check yourself when it comes to expectations. Whose expectations are you upholding? Your own? Someone else’s? Society’s?

Who is your dream mentor?

This is an interesting question—I’ve had the privilege of being mentored by some incredible people (and also some not-so-incredible people).

I think I’d love the opportunity to be mentored by Janine Allis—the founder of Boost Juice. She’s successfully franchised and is a serial entrepreneur. I admire her tenacity and grit.

What is something you’d never thought you’d do?

Building GG’s to be where it is today. I always thought of it as a little florist that would exist to deliver a few rainbow roses here and there.

I’m super proud to have employed over 35 people with special needs over the years and just continued to chip away at the greater goal of reducing unemployment of people with disabilities.

I often say I’m not a very consistent person—but we’re going seven years strong so surely I get a consistency badge from Girl Guides by now?

PHOTOGRAPHY Tim Bean

This article originally appeared in Magazine: Time (AW2020), available to read free online.

Read it here.

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