(For my new friends) I’m Danyelle, the person behind @LITTLEBRICKHOME.
Little Brick Home is a small print/wall art business run from my Little Brick Home on the Sunshine Coast.
I want to tell my ‘story’, not because I want sympathy or special treatment, I want to share my journey because maybe some one out there may be inspired. I am incredibly embarrassed to assume that my little journey may inspire someone, but sometimes you have to take the leap and if it doesn’t work out then at the very least I tried.
I’m 25 years old, I am married to a lovely man, and I also have Cystic Fibrosis. It’s a lung disease I was born with so I don’t know life any different… But for a very long time I had given up on a life and a future. My health started to decline by the age of 16, and I didn’t think I would even live to be 25. Many other people my age with this disease have either passed, spend most of their days in hospital or are awaiting a lung transplant… So I am so extremely grateful for each day.
In 2013, just months before my wedding, at the age of 22, I fell very sick. The outcome wasn’t looking great and I spent 4 weeks in hospital. I will never forget the time I was in extreme pain, I had tubes coming from my chest, and the Physiotherapist looked me in the face and said, “If you don’t do this treatment, you are going to die”. It was in that moment that I realized how much living I had left to do and how my wedding was within arms reach… I’m lucky I am stubborn, because boy was it a fight. I made it my goal to get out of hospital for my Husbands birthday because we were going to Montezuma’s Mexican Restaurant for dinner and then I had a wedding to get to… That is a very long story for another time, but the ending was a good one, I made it to Mexican and my life from that experience has never been the same.
Fast forward to 2016 my diabetes looks pretty stable, my weight has never been better, and my lung function is a stable 55% (I might mention this is thanks to Kalydeco, a miracle medicine that has given me time which I will forever be grateful for). I am running a small business from home and I have grown an Instagram following of 16,000 people. It took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to do and be. I have an incredibly supportive husband who has worked hard so I can stay home and focus on my health. Having this illness makes it hard for me to work in many different occupations. I have to consider being in close proximity to un-well people in the public, working in heat, anything overly physical, somewhere I can have frequent food breaks, somewhere that I can take time for hospital appointments… It all seems too much for an employer along with the limited experience.
So here I am on Instagram ‘meeting’ like-minded people, styling my home, and running a little page. I had some experience with photography and Photoshop so I began creating wall art for my own home and some one suggested I sell my designs. Everything I know about Photoshop and photography I have learnt by trial and error, and YouTube tutorials. I thought this person can’t be serious; they actually want to pay me money? For my designs? Surely I can’t actually charge money for that? But I followed their advice and thought what’s the worst that can happen?
So I made a little website up, I had a couple of designs, my Dad and Step-Mum bought me a professional printer and off I went. I remember my followers hitting 1700 and I was so excited. I had hit it big! I spent 15 hours a day on Instagram, talking to people, commenting, posting 5-7 pictures a day, hash tagging, entering brand-rep competitions… you name it I was doing it. I put my all into my Instagram business, although at the same time I kept pinching myself thinking I am not good enough to be doing this, my work isn’t good enough, my designs aren’t good enough… I was my biggest critic.
And this is why I feel the need to write about it. From the outside I may look like I know what I’m doing, I may look successful and it may look easy, but I have my doubts, I have my days that I don’t think I can do it, I struggle too. But, unless I believe in myself, and I believe in my product, I am not going to get anywhere. I have no business training, so this is all very new to me, and it's so confusing sometimes but I get through. I learnt to love my imperfections, I learnt to back myself, and back my business. I started reading inspiring magazines like The Collective Hub, surrounding myself with other small business people who ride the rollercoaster with me… I believed in my self and I couldn’t be happier. I never thought I would be anything or do anything, I let my illness control my life, but now CF lives me with, Not I with CF… I am the Boss of Little Brick Home, the boss of my life and the boss of my illness(most of the time). I don’t know where I will be in 1 year, 5 years or 10 years, but I know whatever it is, its going to be something that makes me happy.
I suppose the message to this story is that life can give you a pretty terrible hand, but it’s still your life. I could choose to sit there and miss out on this opportunity because I am missing 45% of my lung function, or I could use the 55% I have left to do something that I am incredibly proud of. I choose the second option.