Mums And Co

PND was the catalyst for starting my business

If you’re a mum, there’s every chance you’ll be familiar with postnatal depression (PND) - you may have either experienced it yourself (which 16% of all Australian women do), or helped a friend through it. Either way, its debilitating effect can’t be underestimated. 

 

Yet as mums, we often manage to find opportunity in adversity, and that’s exactly what one migrant mum we spoke to, Amy Clarke, did when she experienced a severe bout of PND following the birth of her first son. Amy not only managed to beat her PND, but in fact used everything she was experiencing to help her unlock her creativity and start her business, ALW Clarke.

We chatted to her about the challenges that migrant mums face and her extraordinary business journey. 

Amy’s migration journey 

Amy’s journey to Australia was generally a positive one. She decided to ‘seize the day’ so to speak after an unfortunate redundancy: 

‘I moved here from the UK in 2011 after being made redundant from my job in the video games industry. My mother was Australian so I’d always had dual nationality, so I thought I’d make the most of it.’ 

Amy didn’t find settling into Australia too difficult - perhaps with the exception of the weather: 

‘[When I first arrived] I didn’t have any fixed plans but wanted to explore the country. We hoped to drive to Cairns but it was early December when we got to Airlie Beach...and the temperature was soaring! We decided it was too hot and headed back down to Sydney instead.’ 

A baby and a bout of PND 

After her move, Amy fell pregnant and soon after welcomed her son into the world. But she found that PND and anxiety arrived with him, so she started to experiment with art as a way to help her deal with what she was experiencing: 

‘Art became my lifeline. Self-taught, I started experimenting with mandalas and illustrations, and my muse was sparked.’ 

Amy’s initial experimentations with art had quite a transformative effect: 

‘[With the help of my art], my mental health issues and treatment opened up a new creative existence...and then the confidence the share it with the world.’ 

The beginnings of the business 

At first, Amy’s art was a way of helping her to deal with her PND, but soon it evolved and became much more than that: 

‘[I started to find that] I was drawing and painting at every spare moment I had. I then started sharing works through Facebook and Instagram and people’s reactions were amazing.’

‘I didn’t really have a plan as such, but from there the business just evolved and I’ve taken every opportunity that’s come to me.’ 

A business (and personal) transformation 

Amy believes that since her business has become ‘official’ it’s helped her personally in so many unexpected ways: 

‘I used to be a shy introvert who wouldn’t show my art to my cat. But since taking the leap of making my business official, I’ve had to push through so many fears.’ 

‘And I’ve found so much freedom on the other side.’ 

For someone that was hesitant to show their art to anyone, Amy has certainly achieved a lot in the year since she founded her business: 

‘So far, my biggest achievement would be having my first solo art exhibition. I created 22 original artworks where I explored the complex realities of depression and anxiety, alongside self-awareness and growth.’ 

‘It went so well and I received lots of lots of compliments, which boosted my confidence. I even made a walk-through video of my exhibition, and I didn’t think I’d ever face a camera!’ 

Migrant mum challenges 

Although Amy’s journey has been an overwhelmingly positive one, it hasn’t been without its challenges - some, she believes, that are specific to her as a migrant mum: 

‘The finance/bookkeeping side of my business has been my biggest challenge. Initially it stopped me from even wanting to try.’ 

‘Being from the UK meant that I didn’t have any contacts to ask for advice and had no experience of the Australian business and tax laws.’ 

Amy was proactive, though, in overcoming this challenge: 

‘I decided to bite the bullet and enrolled myself into a bookkeeping course at my local community college. It was fully funded as I was unemployed at the time and I learnt all the basics for running the financial side of my business.’ 

Final words 

Amy believes that the key to success for all mums, but especially for migrant mums, is to ensure that they build a strong network here in Australia. She says: 

‘Network, network, network. Whether it’s online or in person, just start talking to people, tell them what you’re doing and listen to what they do.’ 

‘There is so much to learn and we can’t do it all alone, so making sure you have a strong support network is fundamental to ensuring you and your business stay healthy.’ 

 

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