The final chapter…

Welcome to the final chapter!

I’m grateful that you’ve decided to keep reading this far, and that you’ve been part of my journey. The tribe I have behind iampoppy Designs is amazing, and one I could never have even dreamed of having. I take moments to take it all in all the time. To feel the gratitude and pride I have for the process and how far I’ve come. Its been a ride, but totally worth it and I would do it all again… well… maybe not all, but most.

We left off in 2019. What a year.

I was on a high, feeling in my power and knowing I would never fall hard like I had before. I had survived and I was now bullet proof.

I reunited with Shane again. He was presenting as clean. He was seeing a therapist and we started couple’s therapy. The thing about Shane is that we get on so well. We laugh and joke around and our therapy sessions are always great. He always is caring and loving to me and it leads me into a false sense of security. I believe he is clean. I think he wants to believe he is too, but he just never was. This is something I know in hindsight now, but at the time, I wanted to believe I had my bestie back. I learnt this after he recently spent 4 months in rehab, and you finally see the difference between actual sobriety and false sobriety. It makes you wonder how you didn’t see it at the time, it was so obvious!

Anyway, we decided to give it another shot, and moved into a larger house. It was only possible with a dual income, so I was taking a pretty big risk.

Things were going well. I was enjoying my networking meetings, the cheer, socialising. I also became part of a trivia team.

I was growing bored in the business though. I felt that wedding stationery had a huge limit on how much money I could make, and my custom designs were so labour intensive. The design process in each client would be over a year, from invitations through to on the day stationery and it was not really enjoying it anymore.

I had a client approach me and ask if I wanted to paint live for them. She lived in America, and it was quite popular over there. I didn’t paint people, I couldn’t paint people. But never to shy away from a challenge in this new identity of mine, I agreed.

I painted my first live wedding in September of 2019 and booked another off the back of it for the October. I loved it! It was so nice to be at the wedding, enjoy the celebrations. To be able to interact with guests and the positive feedback they gave throughout the night. I was hooked!

nikki and Tom live painting nikki and tom live painting live painting Gabbinbar Homestead

And then COVID hit. Boom… all weddings cancelled. That meant all wedding stationery, and all potential live weddings. I was devastated. The same week we went into lockdown, I also discovered Shane was not in recovery like he had said. We were done. I went into lockdown alone, caring for the kids and having to pay everything again. (cue screaming!)

My darkness lasted about 2 weeks in total. I allowed myself to grieve. The world was suffering too, so I rode that wave for a bit. I then decided to regroup and change what I was doing. I held online classes for watercolour paintings. I said goodbye to my wedding stationery career. I was over it anyway, so this was just forcing me to move on.

I decided to paint some portraits for my own amusement. I posted them to Instagram, and boom… new business venture! I had people contacting me about painting for them every day. People were gifting their loved ones, having their weddings painted as they didn’t get to celebrate with guests, having memorable paintings of loved ones they lost during this time. It kept me afloat and was so good for practicing my skills.

red haired girl portrait

The first portrait I painted, while in lockdown


I also managed to secure some mural work from BNI referrals, and this opened up a whole new area of art for me. COVID was helping my business. It was crazy.

Star Wars Mural

One of the first murals I painted, for a member of my BNI group

This also meant I was able to keep paying everything in the house. To be independent and thrive. I was also able to see Shane’s addiction as his own journey and it didn’t feel personal to me, it didn’t hurt me anymore. I was able to enforce my boundaries without being sucked into the trauma of it all. It was a new time.

Post COVID, I took on a business coach. I wanted to level up, and my only option was coaching, outsourcing, and using the contacts through BNI to help me. This has been amazing and I still have the same coach today.

Weddings started back, and I began picking up live wedding jobs. The more weddings I painted at, the more weddings I got and before long I was booking out most weeks, and even travelling for work. This was so much better than stationery, and I still got to stay in the wedding industry, which I love.

My portraits continued and just got better with each one I painted.

I put out a goal to the universe in 2021, to paint a large scale mural as a challenge, and it came true! By January 2022 I had secured a bid to paint a 3 storey mural on my own! I learnt how to drive the cherry picker, how to convert a small design onto a huge wall. How to use spray paints and it was so much fun. I am so proud of that mural and love seeing me tagged on socials when people head there.

Mural Gold Coast

Shane moved back in briefly after COVID. You may think I’m crazy for this yoyo, and I am. But I’m ok with that. Addiction is a wild ride, it’s unpredictable and difficult to let go of as the addict is also hurting and wanting to stop. It’s hard. He moved back in, but only lasted around 8 months before I had enough and decided to move on. Finally. She says….

He did hit his low point here, and decided it was time to get outside help and headed off to rehab. He is currently 1 year out of rehab, and almost 1.5 years sober. I was naive to think he could beat it with his will power alone and wish that rehab had been an earlier intervention in his journey. But it wasn’t, and that ok. Everything that happened has driven us to where we are now.

Shane’s send off to rehab

The week after he finished 4 months of rehabilitation

I survived years of stress and heartbreak, and still came out succeeding. That has given me a confidence in my business, my abilities, and my dreams, that I don’t think I would have without it.

I know I will be doing this until I am too old to. And then I will probably still be involved in art in some form or another. This is my calling, my passion and my livelihood and I couldn’t think of anything else I would rather do.

My journey was a rollercoaster. And I am thankful for it.

Thank you all for reading along and being part of my 10 years with me. I am finishing it this month with my 40th birthday. New decade, new adventures and new things to come for iampoppy Designs.

10 years in business