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Meet Amanda Baudanza of AJBees in South End

Today we’d like to introduce you to Amanda Baudanza.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
In 2011, my husband TJ was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer and following his first major surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital, I got the memo that fresh flowers were not permitted in his room or in that particular ward of the hospital. It came as a surprise because the longstanding tradition has always been that when a family member or friend is in the hospital, we immediately think to bring an arrangement of flowers. But after doing some research, it turns out that stagnant water is one of the reasons why hospital wards in Massachusetts and across the country no longer allow bedside flowers. Oncology, Cardiac, Intensive Care, and the NICU are among a few of the wards that have been declared flower-free zones. Hospital team members have cited the possible risk of infection in patients with compromised immune systems posed by the bacteria and mold fresh flowers may harbor.

So, I started to wonder… how does one brighten up a hospital room and add a dose of cheer if fresh cut flowers are no longer welcome?

Anyone?… Anyone?… Bueller?

Well, in 2012, I had a light-bulb moment and behold… AJBees! Handcrafted paper flower arrangements that require no water, no maintenance, and the best part is…they last forever.

Though I started making paper flower arrangements in 2012, I didn’t officially start my business until this past winter. Initially, AJBees was just a hobby, I enjoyed crafting flowers at home and gifting my arrangements to family and friends. Then, after receiving several requests to buy these creations, I decided to turn my creative interest into more than just a hobby. During the years that followed, I experimented with different materials, improved my technique and in January of 2018, I officially launched AJBees.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I’ll say this… when you decide to take a trip down Business Lane, the road is far from smooth. In fact, I can almost guarantee that you’ll hit potholes large enough to nearly swallow your business. You’ll reach dead-ends and wonder, where do I go from here? What lies ahead is unknown and without struggle and failure, it would be impossible to learn anything. I can’t say that I particularly enjoy failing but every challenge I face only makes my business better.

Starting up any kind of business on your own isn’t easy, it’s hard and like Jimmy Dugan once said… “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.”

Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
As founder and owner of AJBees, I specialize in creating one-of-a-kind paper flower arrangements. Perfect for gifts, events, home decor or just because. All AJBees arrangements are designed specifically to meet hospital safety regulations so that loved ones can receive a cheerful arrangement that would otherwise not be permitted.

Each flower is crafted entirely by hand. There are no set templates or patterns I follow, thus making each arrangement an original work of art. I create flowers using an assortment of paper and I always keep an eye out for vases that suit different tastes and personalities.

Every arrangement is finished off with a small bumblebee. A simple reminder that we are often capable of the very things that people tell us is impossible. Traditional wisdom says the bumblebee shouldn’t be able to fly; its body is too big and its wings too small for it to develop the lift required for flight. Aerodynamically speaking, it’s just not possible for it to fly. But the bumblebee doesn’t know this, so it just goes ahead and flies anyway. The bee is a symbol of the idea that anything is possible. Where there’s a will, there is always a way. You just have to Bee-lieve.

The purpose behind every flower and arrangement I create is to help make a difference in the fight against cancer. As part of the ongoing effort to find a cure at Mass General, AJBees donates a portion of all proceeds to the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Cancer Research in memory of TJ Baudanza. Every arrangement purchased will get us one small step closer to finding a cure.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
My husband Teej was always my biggest supporter. He motivated me to do better and be better. The unwavering faith he had in me gave me the confidence and encouragement I needed to pursue this venture.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Jessica Swensen, Amanda Baudanza

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