There I sat, in the front seat of my car. It was a hot December’s day on the Gold Coast. My self-made, Mumpreneur, WAHM design business had been thriving, I was ‘killing it’ as my friends and Instagram followers would say, I was earning a healthy income to help contribute to our family earnings, all the while being a full time Mum to our two growing boys.
All sounds perfect, right?
My littlest, who was then only just a mere, one year old, had gotten very sick.
We were in the thick of Christmas season, when small businesses like mine, amazingly get thrown mountains of support in the form of orders.
I needed to be on the ball.
My little Rafferty accumulated an eye infection that looked like the stuff nightmares are made of. They couldn’t actually diagnose it at the time which didn’t help our cause, but there was a lot of back and forth to the ED at the hospital as he would wake up each morning with eyes shut over and writhing in pain. For weeks it wouldn’t go away and it totally messed me up as I played tug-of-war between trying to care for him and trying to keep up with my inbox.
Leading up to this day, my store was at it’s peak with hundreds of Christmas orders waiting to be fulfilled. I was determined to make sure that every single one of those orders would arrive in time for Christmas Day as promised. All of them custom designed from scratch, then assembled and packaged by me. I didn’t sleep for weeks…
OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration, I slept, an hour or two here or there out of 24 hours in a day in order to see them through.
I was trying my absolute hardest.
I succeeded for the most part. I sent those packages out one by one. But out of the hundreds of orders I was dealing with, there were a few minor hiccups. Breakages. Lost packages. Delays. Each hiccup, given the circumstances, hurt me.
Because my process was stunted due to Raffy needing most of my attention, I was chipping into the profit of a majority of my orders to cover the extra costs occurred when expediting the process. I was refunding those orders in full that didn't make it as promised, even thought I had done the work. In other words, in those few weeks Raffy was sick, I was working to my wits end, yet losing money at the same time. But by this point in time, it wasn’t about money, it was about making sure I didn’t let anyone down, especially my little boy. Many tears were shed and I can easily say that this scenario was one of the hardest situations I’ve found myself in. So in the front seat of the car after the last order was sent out, a few days out from Christmas Day, I had a nervous breakdown.
Bawling. Hyperventilating. I couldn’t do it. I’d failed. Again. I was no entrepreneur. I was not magic. I was mentally and physically broken. I couldn’t sort my shit out and I wanted to give it all away.
I whimpered to my husband. “I can’t do it anymore. I just want to be a Mum. I’m so tired… and what for?”
He was supportive, as always, and told me in my desperation that we would do whatever it was in order for me to be healthy and happy again.
I had already put a password on my website so no one could make any further orders. I switched off my Social Media. And I hugged my little baby back to good health. He came right within a couple of weeks. Just a viral infection that wouldn’t go away.
My healing process however, would take a little longer.
You see, the irony of it all is that I started LOUIE LUXE as a healing tool. For those of you who weren’t here at the very beginning, since that first post in March 2014 (pictured below - 19 likes... Yass!) my page was originally called FINDING LOUIE.
The ‘storm’ that I evidently related to in my first post, was the reason why I started Finding Louie.
Louie/Louise, my middle name.
The ‘Finding’ part was all about finding the magic that made me, me - I was once her before, but she was long lost. It happens. Life’s seriousness and mundane expectations get in the way and before you know it, you are looking in the mirror and you don’t like or know the person that you see.
I was a far cry from my full potential.
The good thing is that I KNEW deep down she was in reach.
I’m a big believer that all women are MAGIC. We are phenomenal. What out minds and bodies are capable of IS pure magic. So out I set, to find her. Stripping myself back. What were the things that I liked to do in order to come alive? Reach my full potential.
You know, just light up…
For me, these things were all very creative. Mainly, it was to cook really good food, listen and dance to my favourite music (I was a professional dancer in a past life) and write.
So that I did….
I got lost in it and it simply made me really happy. I started with penning famous quotes about life and love and then naturally I started tinkering with my own thoughts.
My feed in the early days started by looking like this...
Post by post, I gained followers who genuinely believed in my work, who then became customers and before I knew it, I was living this amazing existence doing what I loved, with the support of an amazing community online. I had come alive. Louie Luxe was born. I was so proud of the work I was creating and most importantly, six months after I began posting on Finding Louie in search of real self love and happiness… after years of infertility, losses and a very dramatic ectopic - think ‘near-death hell’ or even ‘storm’ as per first post…. (making sense now?), then a stint of IVF, I miraculously fell pregnant. With my little Rafferty. He would become the treasured little brother to his big brother Jayce, eight whole years his senior.
This Instagram page, had turned my life around.
I was genuinely happy, I was pregnant and it was just the beginning.
Because of the organic nature in how my little business grew, I never really had the chance to sit down and make those all important decisions on how I wanted my brand to look, how I wanted it to be run and how I wanted it to fit in with the already busy life that I led.
I was always short of time. I mean, even at the hospital when Raffy was born, three hours later, I was on my laptop in my hospital bed, freshly cut open, emailing my loving customers, telling them he had come three weeks early, but not to worry… it wouldn’t effect their order!!
YEP. I feel us women are really great at just being multi-tasking, hardcore troopers.
So when this epic breakdown happened, there was just so much history leading up to that moment, which I guess is why it hit me so hard.
There was a large part of me that wanted to opt out - go and get a ‘real job’ and spend the rest of my time playing with building blocks on the playroom floor with my toddler, both of us covered in Jatz crumbs and watermelon juice. Seriously.
Then there was this other part of me
that really believed in what I had created in such a short time.
Before Raff’s sickness, I WAS doing really well.
My customers would send through the most heartfelt and amazing testimonials and feedback, I was creatively fulfilled beyond my wildest dreams, and like I mentioned earlier… I was able to contribute financially to the family too which meant a lot to me.
My husbo agreed. “Louie Luxe is a great little business, you just need to iron a few problems out.” A big one for him was the no sleep thing. He hated that for me. It’s no way to live and was causing so much strain on the family and in particular my health. So I had to compromise. If I wanted to sleep, I had to decrease my workload - so for me, that meant eliminating my custom work via my store. As much as I have loved creating bespoke pieces that have been used at beautiful, intimate events and countless nurseries across the globe, that will be a part of so many memories for lifetimes to come, it’s something that I just cannot facilitate anymore.
Instead, I have created a range of ready-made products that I’m extremely proud of. They aren’t custom, but each design has been made from nothing, brought to life through my imagination and the love of ink and paper that set me off on this journey in the first place.
A lovely customer recently wrote to me that, “It’s so beautiful the way you’re able to capture emotion and meaning in a physical representation. I can’t thank you enough…” - with these beautifully encouraging words in mind I set out to create a range that would bring an extra shot of emotion to ceremonies, events, parties and soirees.
I feel that this is my gift and what truly makes me light up the world in my own little way. So I’m so pleased that despite the trauma of the breakdown, I am picking up my socks, learning, constantly learning, from my mistakes and will continue to work on this amazing path.
To begin with, I was just going to open the store, ‘next week’ - I started saying that in February…. Every week ticked by and the self sabotage was REAL. There was a real blockage, where I was physically terrified of opening the store back up to the public again. I just wasn’t ready. As well as working on the business, there was another major factor that I wanted to spend some quality time on before I set out and made myself vulnerable again. And that was… me.
I’ve never really been good at gifting myself time or effort if it didn’t mean that if benefited others also. I know I'm not alone in feeling like this. I’ve never felt worthy. But as I looked through my camera roll on my phone of the years recently gone by since having Rafferty, I noticed how few photos there were of me. Like seriously, out of the THOUSANDS of photos of my boys, my work and my husband, there were about NINE of me. I cry as I'm writing this...
I was hiding.
I know I’m not the only one guilty of this. We give so much of ourselves to our families and building the family home, and for a lot of us, our work life too. Who on earth has the time or energy to spend on personally bettering themselves. I wasn’t even sleeping - how was I supposed to get to a gym.
I knew I needed to change. Not for looks. Not for selfies. Not for new clothes (although shopping lately has been lots of fun).
For my health and well being, my state of mind, for the sake of not being afraid of having your photo taken so in decades to come your sweet children are able to look back on this beautiful time you had together.
There was one photo that came to mind (out of the nine to choose from - LOL) and looking at it, I feel the exhaustion, the fear, the resentment, the disappointment and
I’ve honestly spent the last six months turning myself around,
inside and out from the woman in that photo.
How could I talk and write about magic, reaching your full potential, transformation, love (especially self-love) when I honestly hated where I was at that point in time. When I didn’t want to share myself with those around me and instead hid behind my work and pretty pictures of anything that wasn’t truly me.
I needed to transform.
I had plenty to be proud and grateful of, but I’d really dropped the ball on looking after what was supposed to be the anchor of my family. I wasn’t really setting a great example for my kids and that probably made me the most upset.
I know everyone is their own harshest critic. But I can tell you that this version of me is utterly exhausted, she is heavy in her step and extremely uncomfortable in her own skin.
I still get emotional when I look at this photo because I can see sadness in my eyes when I should of been having one of the happiest days celebrating my little Rafferty's 1st Birthday.
I wrote down my goals.
I decided to take it day by day.
Having come from a CrossFit background, I decided I couldn’t go back to that.
Mentally having to start from scratch again was a huge mental setback from the get-go.
So I decided to start something new.
For the new me.
An F45 studio (@f45_training_robina represent!! Yew!) had opened it’s doors five minutes down the road from our house, on the 21st Jan… The timing was almost serendipitous. I remember so clearly the morning I walked in there to sign up. I was on a mission and I could feel the desperation in my voice saying help me.
Every morning I get up at 4:30am and train with them for 45 minutes. I haven't missed a training day since I made that decision to turn my life around.
Five months later I can well and truly say I have been transformed and my home and camera roll is now brimming with photos of us as a family. No more hiding.
It's not about looking a certain way. It's about resilience. Growth. Coming out the other side of a tough time fighting and saying, "I've got this".
Mama looks confident and at peace (and a lot less exhausted) and with that comes the rebirth of Louie Luxe.
Not just the website, but this little lady behind the brand.
I feel free to be me.
I feel light in my body and mind. I feel healthy and comfortable in my own skin and that is the foundation that I want to build my business on and the example I want to set for my children.
I can do this now.
I’m so excited for everything.
And THAT feeling is the best feeling in the world. That’s where the magic happens.
I have so many people to thank for sticking by me and believing in me, even when I didn’t. You know who you are.
To my amazing followers who despite my six months hiatus to focus on my health and family, continue to stick around, support and encourage me and my work. I love you.
I’m sharing this with the Interwebs as I want to start being a little more transparent with those who care to listen. I feel like I’m learning a lot.
And it feels amazing to share that growth.
I'm hoping that if this can give just one wonder woman out there who has lost her spark, the hope that change is just around the corner, then this post is worth it.
You are worthy. You deserve the time and energy to allow yourself to grow.
It is okay to fail, it is okay to hit rock bottom, it is okay to breakdown.
The beauty is in the growth.
Just keep in mind that even the purest, most beautiful petals,
bloom from a stem that had to breakthrough the dirt-ridden ground.
You have got this.
This will be my mission through my work. To inspire celebration of life, love, happiness, hope and growth.
My designs won't be products, they will be tools to spread this message.
Let the fun begin.
Love, light + magic.