I want to share my story: why I create the things I do, and what making beautiful things for my daughter and other little girls means to me.

A beautiful mother I met when I was pregnant once told me something I have held to my heart like a sweet secret ever since.

Through the screaming and the tears, the pain and sleeplessness, and even in those dark nights of the soul, it held me fast. It protected me like a soft cuddle, and brought resolution where mine had dissolved.

She told me to get up every morning before my baby woke – before dawn even – pick out a dress, and put on my makeup.

It doesn’t sound so very profound phrased like that.

It was more than the words she spoke, it was what they conveyed to me. In such a simple sentence, I unwrapped a tiny gift to find a point of focus.

No matter how dark, how desperate, there will always be something that shines. Even if you can’t see it, even if it hasn’t arrived – it will.

Her words told me to keep hope.

Because even if I lost it, if I kept calling for it, it would find me.

There were days I felt mindless, days I knew I looked like a caricature of my former self.

There were times when every outfit I had for Olivia was dirty, covered in things that made me blush and shall remain nameless. For a few weeks in those early days, I gave in to dressing her in plain onesies, thinking “What the hell is the point? She ruins everything she wears anyway!”.

Those few weeks were all it took for me to realise: that was not the point. The point was that my beautiful little baby would look just that – beautiful – until she crapped herself and didn’t anymore. And that would be okay.

Because even covered in her own poop, she’d sense something, pick up that this person – her mamma – loved her, made an effort, focused on her. She’d know she mattered to me. And so would I.

It became an affirmation.

I’d paint my face on each morning. I felt like an unwilling geisha. But I didn’t see the over-blushed cheeks and red eyes behind the mascara. I was galvanised, and decked out in war paint for the battle of the day that awaited. Shimmering eyeshadow became a kind of talisman, like it could chase away the shadows under my eyes and the dimness I felt inside.

I write all this because I know I’m not the only mother who does this. I am one of millions of mothers who feel their lives have have not just changed, parts have fallen away completely, and some parts will never return.

A pretty dress won’t change this.

But a pretty dress can become a symbol – of hope, of resilience, of refusing to give up fighting for a life that lights us up from the inside – whether or not it looks like the life we have known or imagined before.

This is why I create. This is why I am so committed to making beautiful things. Because they make us smile. They bring light to our eyes. They are something we all yearn for, and so our love for them can bring us together, comfort us, and remind us that there is still beauty in our world.

I was searching for a way to articulate what drives me, and to identify where I wanted to give something back to others. After many months, I’ve found the words I wanted.

I know what I want to give to other mothers like me with the things I make. I want to give them hope.