The rise of wedding stationery…
The rise of wedding stationery…
As mentioned in the last episode of the iampoppy Diaires, I had transitioned into wedding stationery around 2015/6 and was picking up a fair amount of clients. Or so it felt like at the time.
In this episode, I go through the highs I had in my wedding stationery years, but also the extreme lows, which knocked me off my game for a long time. Perhaps I would be further along in my career by now if these few years didn’t happen. But then I wouldn’t be who I am today… so its all good!
It’s early 2017. I enter the ABIA awards around this time, as I had started in a few wedding registries in 2016 that hadn’t provided me the results I had needed, and a fellow vendor had recommended ABIA. They had won awards and it had really helped them gain recognition. I took their advice and was nominated for the Queensland Awards, best stationery. There was no way I was going to win it, but I wanted to head along anyway as it was a black tie event and I wanted to walk the red carpet! Ha ha
Anyway, I had a great night, nervously waiting for me to not win.. discussing how it was not possible for me to win, as they were always rigged and I hadn’t put enough energy into it, and hadn’t had enough clients to vote properly yet. I was against some really great contenders, some who had even provided the stationery for the black tie event, and who I was sure were going to win.
When it was announced, I actually won! Wth??? We were live streaming this on my Facebook and it was so surreal. When I went up to get my award, some other vendors even recognised me, which had never happened before and it was such an amazing feeling for me. It was such a great achievement and I celebrated by getting very merry!
In the background, my personal life had begun to get quite difficult. In August of 2016, Shane’s daughter ran away from home and this sent Shane into a downward spiral of depression. She was 14 at the time, it was really hard for any of us to accept.
I knew he was hurting, but due to the depression, I wasn’t able to see the early signs that he had masked much of his pain in addiction. We spent around 6 months where I knew something wasn’t right, but was being gaslit into thinking it was normal and just depression. I felt like I was going crazy. I was going crazy. Being gaslit is not fun!
Just as I discovered how bad it was, was when I won the ABIA award. It was such a high in an otherwise sad life. It was possibly the most excited I have been in years.
I threw myself into my work to get through the difficulties of living with a heartbroken addict who was in complete denial. It was hard, and it was not how I imagined my life to be. I had been living with this beautiful person, so happy and fun and kind. And although he looked like the same person, he was most definitely not, and it was heartbreaking to be part of. My avoidance was my work. Which is actually what saved me, my determination to keep going.
In the next 3 years, I won a few more ABIA awards, the QLD brides awards and started to actually make some better money. I was featured in numerous magazines, part of many styled shoots and taking on more and more work. I was inundated. It was great!
Again, behind the scenes was a different picture.
At the end of 2017, everything in the family came to a head. His addiction was at a high. I was an anxious mess with suicidal ideations. I started therapy and he was helping me a lot, but I just couldn’t shift the fog.
In January 2018, I ended the relationship and took on the responsibility of the large house, all the bills and childcare, while running the business. I didn’t have enough to survive, so took out 2 credit cards. I used these to pay for the house. We used food vouchers from the Salvation Army to buy groceries and I put everything I possibly could on a hardship break.
I started taking anti depressants to get through it all, as I was not coping at all. I had no work for 3 months during this time, as my energy really affected the vibe of iampoppy. My socials went quiet. As they tend to when I’m not coping. I am sure that happens to everyone. It doesn’t help business at all!
Once the anti depressants kicked in, I was able to get back on track a little. Because I needed to provide for the kids and wanted to keep the house, I made sure I brought in the work. I started to be able to pay for things, I even funded a trip back to the UK (admittedly, it was on credit) and started working the bridal expos more, to get more clients in. Work was actually going really well and I enlisted my sister in law to work with me. It was all going pretty well. I was working with some awesome clients on some really lovely weddings. I had taken on some logo work too, creating some really lovely hand drawn logos. Although on paper, the business didn’t look that great, I knew the vision I had, and that really kept me going.
While I was away in the UK, Shane got clean and asked to try again. Because I still loved him, but felt I had only lost him to addiction, I decided to take that chance. It lasted 5 months.
It was at this point that everything changed for me. It was a pivotal point in my life and one I am thankful for, even though it was incredibly painful.
We were asked to leave the house. Our landlady was moving back in, and we had to find a new place. It was while we were in the process of moving that I felt a nagging feeling that Shane was still in his addiction. The week we left the house, I left him.
It was at this point that I was homeless, had no studio space to work from and had to support these little humans who were hurting and confused. I stopped taking the anti depressants, (I felt that they were causing me to loose motivation and I NEEDED motivation!) and went into it head on. We would succeed. It was at this point, I posted to my facebook while I was at an expo.
I needed a pick me up, so posted my current status as I knew people would write in their support which would then help me keep fighting. It worked, and it gave me the boost I needed to persevere. I always look at others now, who air their troubles and know they are needing the help of the village. Rather than ignore them, I always try to reach out. I know how much it helped me, and I know we all need each other more than the modern world allows.
At the end of 2018, I finally got a house for me and the kids to live in. I also moved into Mo’s Desert Clubhouse and started working from there.
This was a game changer in the business. Being surrounded by others really lifted my game. I got contacts from them and found work. I was able to hold watercolour workshops in the board room there and it felt like the business was on the rise again. I stopped doing the expo’s, and focused on social media and finding work through there. Also networking with other wedding venders and being more active on shoots. I had been going through so much beforehand, that I was never able to be fully present and therefore was very isolated while working, which is hard when you’re trying to grow.
This new house was also $200 a week cheaper than the large house, so I was able to start paying back debts, come off hardship and feel that I could support my kids so much more. I was still in therapy, and he had helped me through the dark time so much. It helped me see that there was always a way out and that things are always how you look at them. I had been looking at my life through a victim lense for so many years. I had been hurt by others so much, I felt attacked, abandoned, and helpless. He helped me find my power and start thinking from a place of winner rather than victim. He changed my life.
Making the change in my life and business…
I decided to take on what he was advising. I joined a social team. I joined Cheerleading, and 5 weeks after joining, competed in my first competition and then went onto come second in State Championships. I was part of a group of women who had drive, who wanted to win, and who didn’t see age as a reason not to throw another human in the air and catch them. It was inspiring. It was transformational knowing I was able to overcome that fear and do it myself. If I could do that, I could do anything! I still do cheer today, and still love it.
I then joined BNI. A networking group for business owners. I had to public speak every week, which was horrific. But again, knowing you can do this fills you with so much energy for your business and changes the way you see fear. BNI helped transform my business from a $45k gross to well over $200k gross, and it’s a mixture of mindset, mixing with professionals who have different approaches to business and also expanding your network of people who can buy from you, or refer to you. It was amazing.
To this day, I still see 2019 as one of the best years of my life. I feel like I was a stuck in a dark place for so long, through my first marriage and then through my second relationship being taken away by addiction. The heartbreak, the sadness and hopelessness were defining me. But making so many changes, being more extroverted in my approach to life and stepping out of my comfort zone to put myself through challenges helped me transform. And as a result, iampoppy Designs transformed too.
This was the year I had the most stationery clients too, and I had work coming at me from all directions. I had some great projects which included creating custom designs of wedding venues and the peoples homes and pets, and my stationery started taking on more of my style rather than the Pinterest styles previous clients had been requesting of me. I also worked really hard perfecting my calligraphy skills, and started offering envelopes addressing and other calligraphy services. I was loving it.
Next month I will share the last part of my journey, going through covid and moving into being a live artist who is happier than ever.
10 years has been such a journey!