Greta John tells her very personal story about how she dealt with tragedy, grief and depression and came out the other side to pursue her creative dreams. At Craft My Life, she provides awesome, affordable niche products for creative minds. Here she talks about her struggles and inspirations and her hopes for the future.
The passion: What inspired you to set up your business?
I had just suffered a very traumatic event in my life as well as the ending of my 19-year relationship with my husband. I was in a downwards spiral of painful depression dealing with grief, anger and isolation with no one to comfort me on those dark nights. My children were far too young to deal with my trauma and I tried to spare them as much as I could. I’m grateful for their beautiful cuddles that always gave me warmth in those days.
My father was murdered in his home at midnight in my birth country, South Africa on the 13th of January 2017, just 3 months after I had left my ex-husband. My father at that time was my lifeline via text messages. I was in severe depression, coping with my choice and how to move forward. I am an expat in Australia – all my family live in South Africa and because I dramatically left my husband and I was living in a small town in Tasmania, I was isolated furthermore.
I couldn’t come to terms with the tragedy and why it happened. I needed something to pull me out of my depression and to do something that gave back to society, that I could practically do as a busy, single mum of two active, young children.
My dad’s birthday came up in May. My kids and I painted rocks on that day for him and we have done every year since.
The following week I saw WA ROCKS on Facebook. The statewide rock groups are about getting kids off devices and outdoors by creatively painting rocks. They are then placed in parks to be found and redistributed to other parks and found again or kept. This is all facilitated through the group.
Sometimes a rock appears to the finder at a particular time in their life and it impacts on them for their own personal reasons and they want to keep it. That’s what it’s about. When you paint a rock and hide it, it’s released to be passed on or kept because it’s made someone happy.
I loved the idea and knew I could do that myself, so I instantly got to work. I painted my own rocks, hid them in a local park, created TAS ROCKS group and invited all my friends. In less than 3 days, one of my rocks was found by a little girl named Ella who was in my son McKinley’s class. She ran up to me with a huge smile as she excitedly showed me her new rock.
Instantly I felt the “warm fuzzies”. My dad always used to talk about the warm fuzzies to me, and about the importance of giving love generously to others without conditions. So this was very special and I instantly knew this was the start of something very special for not only my children and local children but also for the children of Tasmania. In no time, TAS ROCKS grew rapidly to get well into the thousands.
Later, I co-founded KNYSNA ROCKS and South African Art Rocks for South Africa. Australian Art Rocks and Crafting my Community where I’d like to encourage and support up and coming creatives.
I hadn’t worked for 8 years at that time because my ex had been an interstate FIFO worker. I had very little record of employment in Australia. I had only moved here in 2006 from London where I had worked and lived for 10 years in hospitality, and for the majority of the time as a bird keeper for London Zoo. I found myself on welfare as I couldn’t work full time and my skills were very niche. I also am very driven and creative and had wanted to start a full-time business for years but couldn’t. I was basically “working” full-time for TAS ROCKS. It was so busy and demanding on myself and my other admin. TAS ROCKS is a volunteer service – no cash is involved at all.
It has well over 20K members now. I’ve only ever had one other admin at a time work with me to keep a tight knit on how we manage the group. So it can be pretty hectic at times. Groups of this size easily have 6 or more admins.
Our members were asking over and over: what paints do I use? What sealants do I use? How do I paint a rock? Where do I find supplies? I thought, well there it is. That’s my business! I can build kits for rock painting, sell craft supplies and build my brand of homemade and hand-picked craft kits for kids, for parents, grandparents or anyone to buy as “boredom busters” in the holidays and all year round!