This is the real truth! I was in a very unhappy, dysfunctional marriage and it was beyond repair. In fact, it was developing into a situation where I was living my life in fear and I knew I had to escape.
There was no way I could sit down with my husband of 18 years and calmly talk through a plan of how to separate. He would have exploded.
I’d been working at setting-up my online shoe business – Ankalia for 12 months and it was almost ready to “go live.” As usual my husband had a major temper outburst before leaving to go on a 4 day boys’ trip to watch the rugby in Melbourne. At that very moment, I thought it’s now or never! Here’s my gap, I have to do it.
So I got in my car and drove across the Nullabor, which stretches across the southern edge of Australia between the goldfields of Western Australia and the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia. I didn’t tell a soul except for my mum, and I left a note with 4 bullet points for my husband explaining “why.”
For 5 days, I drove across the Nullabor shaking with fear, not knowing if he would come after me.
When I arrived in Melbourne I rented an apartment immediately but I had nothing. I slept on the floor with a skinny hiking mattress and a sleeping bag and a girlfriend of mine gave me one camp chair to sit on.
Two weeks later my sandal components and packaging arrived, as well as my metal stand and tools. The internet was connected, so I was ready to “go live.”
For 2 years, I lived in my tiny unfurnished apartment in Melbourne, hiding in a hole like a frightened little rabbit.
Thank goodness for Ankalia.com. It’s what I focussed and worked on 24/7. It enabled me to stay strong and not return to my dysfunctional marriage when I got lonely and when I doubted what I had done. All I did was eat, sleep and breath Swarovksi crystal sandals, and focus on getting the brand out there with no money.
Over time I upgraded from my skinny hiking mattress and sleeping bag to a double blow up air mattress with a doona and an electric blanket. I also added one extra camp chair to my furniture.
I’m over the 2-year mark now and have designed and made a beautiful range of Swarovski crystal sandals. I have 27 designs that I proudly handcraft myself.
My shoe business is what saved me. It’s my passion and it gave me something to totally focus on after running away. I had to make the business work because I left home with nothing and there was no going back.
So, what’s next for me? Well, I still have a long way to go. I’m sleeping in a real bed now. (Ha ha!) I took great pleasure in throwing my deflated air mattress into the bin.
I’m back in Perth now and yes, I drove back across the Nullabor alone again. It was kind of cathartic and a ‘rite of passage’ drive. I’m not divorced yet but my husband has left Australia for good which is a relief.
In terms of Ankalia, it’s my passion and because I enjoy it, it doesn’t feel like a job at all. I’m still learning every single day. My long-term goal is for Ankalia to be known Australia wide for beautiful, pretty, high quality, embellished sandals. I want the brand to be a household name.
Exclusive guest post: Written by Cheryl Botha the Founder and Creative Director of Ankalia.com.