Making my first sale

Making my first sale

I get a little personal in this part of my story. I could leave it out, but I feel that these set backs in my life have actually been want has made me, what’s been the driving force to my success and has given me the motivation to go from making my sale to getting to the point I am at now.

So I’ve kept it in.

Part 2….

I landed in Australia and embarked on a year or two of travelling, fruit picking for work, hospitality and lots of partying.

Painting while fruit picking in Stanthorpe, QLD. I used to set up outside the van, and eventually the campsite owner offered me a room in the main building that I could work in. 

While working in Coolangatta, I ended my 7 year relationship with my university romance and went solo. Not for long though. I ended up meeting my ex husband shortly afterwards.

During my travels, I had been tinkering in art. I set up the garage in our unit, into an art studio. I would go down and paint in the evenings or on the days when I wasn’t working. I feel like I was painting towards creating a greeting card range to market to some brands like Hallmark. I never actually contacted any, but I was painting, editing, etc…

Once I met my husband, that all stopped. I did a few things, but I lost my confidence as he hinted that my work wasn’t that great.  I quickly became pregnant, we moved to Newcastle, and I lost myself. I was isolated, no money, no job opportunities, I was on the wrong visa, pregnant and had no internet or phone.

I didn’t paint or do anything towards my art for about a year. I headed into depression over this time, as my relationship was abusive, and I had been taken by surprise not knowing people could be like this and feeling helpless and alone. The love bombing at the beginning had really painted a different picture of what this marriage would be like, as I was naive to this sort of behaviour.

We eventually moved to Thailand where much of my family lived. My dad gave me an iMac computer and I started using it to edit the paintings I had done throughout university and the years after. I didn’t paint anything new as I didn’t have supplies, had no money to buy any and had a baby to look after. But when Aidan napped, I would jump on and edit my work, clean it up and create new pieces. I started researching markets in Australia, and what type of things I could sell. I created a vision board of what I wanted.

Molly Walkies

Pre edits

Post edits

During this time in Thailand, in the middle of my depression streak, I ended up in hospital with peritonitis. I very nearly didn’t make it as I would never have taken myself to hospital, but luckily my mum was there and insisted. I had emergency surgery, and the surgeon was not very happy I had left it so late. Inside, I did think I would die, but I didn’t really care. I was ready to leave.

My dad arranged for me to fly back to the UK for a few weeks so my mum could care for me there, as her holiday in Thailand had ended. While home, a friend asked me why I felt so much despair. When I told her that I felt so isolated and alone and I thought that was my lot in life, it would never change and I couldn’t see a way out. She looked at me and said “Darling. nothing is for ever. Never think anything is permanent. Things always change”

She may not have realised her words were life changing, but they were. It made me look at my life differently. I formulated a plan. I needed to change my life.

Eventually we made the decision to move back to Australia. This time I refused to move back to Newcastle, knowing in my heart that I would be leaving the marriage, I wanted to be somewhere I loved. So back to the Gold Coast we went, and this is where things really got moving.

When I got back, I looked up the nearest baby group. Number 1 on my list was find friends. I walked in, forced myself to make small talk and pretend I was confident. I worked bloody hard at this pretence, and it worked. I met an amazing group of mums, who I am still very close to today. They helped me find happiness in my darkest of days, and I will be forever thankful of that.

My next step was to become financially independent. I hated being controlled by someone so nasty. It was hard. So I volunteered working in some schools with the intention of studying to become a teacher. I knew my work wasn’t very good, my husband had told me this many times so I knew that I had no hope of making it as an artist or designer. But perhaps I could teach, as I knew the methods and techniques.

It turned out that I wasn’t suited to teaching. It wasn’t my passion and although I liked the environment, I just didn’t really enjoy the kids. It felt more like managing kids rather than teaching them. They weren’t eager to learn.

In this time, one of the friends I met through the baby group (Mel) came to my house and saw my studio of artwork that I had set up in the spare room. She walked in and instantly told me I needed to be selling it. She said that I needed to stop trying to perfect everything and sell the designs I had. She commissioned me to paint some pictures for her nursery right then.

My studio after moving back to Australia

I jumped at the chance! I set to work on creating some cute baby prints lending inspiration from pop songs. I loved mixing words with imagery and so found some songs which were cool and used them to create three prints.

jungle prints baby nursery

A set of three prints I created for baby Owen. with the lyrics from Guns and Roses, Cindy Lauper and The Troggs.

Something as simple as that gave me the confidence I needed to believe in myself again.

She became an incredibly close friend, looking after me, inspiring me and helping me build back my confidence. She didn’t know I was being abused behind closed doors, but I suspect she felt something was off and that’s why she adopted me.

Eventually, after the violence got too much and my nose was broken after one if his pub visits on a Friday night, I decided it was time to leave.

I started looking for a new house. I wanted to find something that I could live in, that Aidan would enjoy living there. A place with a garden. I’ve always needed nature, so a unit was not an option for my mental health. I found the cutest little house in Tugun and moved in. Initially my husband moved with me, as I needed an income provider on the lease. But this lasted 2 months before he found his own unit to live in.

Then the next step came. A friend from Newcastle came to visit, and she too saw my studio of artwork. She thought it was amazing and lent me $160. This may not seem like a lot, but when you have nothing, this was a huge, and it was huge for her too, who lived in a similar situation to me.

The money went to buy my first set of prints. I chose 10 designs which I would get printed to sell at a market stall.

My first ever batch of prints arriving just before my first market

First market at Miami Marketta














In May 2013, me and Mel worked our first ever market stall. We went halves in a table, she was selling her photography packages and me selling prints. I made my first sale. I think I may have made 3 or 4 sales that night. Which again, doesn’t seem like a lot, but its massive when you never thought your work was any good.

I have been told many times throughout the years that my artwork was ok, or not that great. And I am a sensitive little cookie and take this very much to heart. I wore criticism in my bones and didn’t wear it well. I let it break me and dictate my thoughts. Making these sales was rewriting the way I thought about my work. Someone liked it. Someone I didn’t know, who didn’t feel sorry for me, someone real actually liked and paid money for my work. Wow. Just wow!

And that’s where the business starts. After a divorce, from $160 and the desire to be financially independent with the skills that I had. I started to see a future, and it looked great!

Join me next time where I’ll be chatting about how my markets evolved into being awarded the best stationery designer in QLD…