My name is Cyana Duong. I’m based in Sydney and my business, Cami Fleur, is the home of dried, preserved and silk flowers. We provide a service for weddings and events to help reduce florist waste and we arrange and sell personalised floral boxes that won’t die. Our goal is to promote sustainability. I love flowers but it disturbed me to see the amount of waste in the industry. It’s also related to my childhood.
I left Vietnam to come to Australia when I was 17. When I was born, the doctor didn’t know I had a twin sister. She was born without enough oxygen and suffered brain damage. We grew up together very differently. I’ve always played with her and have a special bond with her. My grandfather was very good at handcrafting, the three of us sat together and made paper flowers and when I started this business it really reminded me of my childhood. She smiled more when we played together, she feels more calm when she has flowers around her. I have always had a dream to provide job opportunities to people with disabilities.
I came to Australia by myself. Looking back, it was a bit scary. I came to study English, the lady from the college helped me find a place to rent and I learnt as I went along. I met my adopted mum – she doesn’t speak a lot of English but she supports me and tells me it is going to be ok. We formed a special bond, she still looks after me now. I always wanted to do something to make an impact, but starting a business was a challenge for me because English is my second language and I had no work experience. The most challenging part was not having a big network.
When you feel exhausted, you know that you are doing something that is not going to waste, that is actually helping the earth. And, hopefully, after all these lockdowns, I will have the set-up to provide work for people with disabilities and achieve my dream.
I miss my parents and my sister. I think the business could work anywhere. I’ve never seen an art or handcraft business that provides jobs for people with disabilities in Vietnam. So I have that in my dream, too!