2019 was MY YEAR. My baby girl started school and I had the opportunity to grow my business. Rustic Wren started from my love of leather, creating beautiful journals and bags from my home studio. I could do this around my girls, who are now 10, 8 and 6.

I decided that I wanted more from my business and realised after being home with them for 9 years I needed to find myself again, to get my head out of Mum mode. I’m an interior and building designer by trade, and I knew this wasn’t the right fit for me anymore. 

I really didn’t know what a brand coach was or that I needed one until I met Christine from SeeDesign, at the end of 2018 at a GatheredSA Christmas market.

From that meeting I knew I needed to get to know her and find out what she was about. She was inspiring and interesting and knew her stuff. She had a creative background and had her own creative biz too, I felt she understood me straight away.

This was the beginning of our journey. We jumped in with both feet uncovering and developing a deeper understanding of who I was and what drove me. 

Investing in a coach helped me find the real Jess

The experience and knowledge of my new brand coach was instrumental in my personal development. After each and every session I would walk away mind blown. What she helped me realise about myself was worth its weight in gold.

Pushing myself to become more than Mum, was really important for me. I love being a mum, don’t get me wrong, but I knew I had more to give and Christine helped me find the real Jess. 

This was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for Rustic Wren and myself, investing in myself for years to come. Our identity is the heart and soul of our business, and if we don’t develop ourselves, our businesses won’t grow.

Then in an instant, my life stopped

With all of the time I had invested in growing and developing Rustic Wren and Jess in 2019, I was wrapping up the final orders to ensure Christmas delivery when the Cudlee Creek Bushfire ripped through my hometown. 

My whole world fell apart, when I got the news that my husband Shayne had been caught in the flames and was seriously burnt. 

Of course he was out there. He was defending property near my family’s farm and that is who he is.

He narrowly escaped further injury when he left his beloved tractor and ran for his life from the fire. Shayne sustained burns to his arms, legs, neck and face and was in RAH for 3 ½ weeks and required several skin grafts. 

He is a county fella, who is always there to help and accepted his fate and took recovery into his stride. His injuries were serious but he didn’t let it phase him. He knew he had to recover so he’d be there for next time and he’d be better prepared. 

The worst thing for him, other than the injuries, was that he wasn’t out there defending my Dad’s orchard, unfortunately Dad lost a third of his orchard to the fire. Along with being there for clean up. He loves this kind of thing. I know this was hard for him and that he will be there next time when unfortunately there will be another fire.

Recovery is one day at a time

His attitude helped the girls and I, although it was truly horrific seeing him at his worst.

We were positive and taking each day at a time, with few expectations. The Royal Adelaide Hospital Burns Unit was truly amazing and he truly was in the best hands. I’d sit in his hospital room and journal – a way I could clear my head and recharge.

The weeks that followed I had to hold it together for my girls and Shayne, because it was unknown how he’d recover and the time it’d take to heal properly.

Burns change each day but there was such a high risk of infection we had to be careful. So we couldn’t get our hopes up just in case. 

Fortunately he recovered really well, which still baffles me.

It was certainly hard on him, don’t get me wrong, but he has taken it in his stride and embraced his new normal. He has a daily routine to ensure the skin grafts heal correctly and compression garments for 12 to 18 months. With scarring on his arms, legs, face and neck, he’s lucky he’s not a vain kind of bloke and it doesn’t worry him too much. I forget some days, especially when he has them covered, its amazing to see how far he has come.

We are so very thankful that it wasn’t worse. 

He has been back to full duties at work as a diesel mechanic, for a few months now and making the most of his time. 

Then fate stepped in & my business exploded

While Shayne was recovering (and to give me some quiet time during all of this as well as a little normalcy) I kept working, when I could.

I had no idea how we’d survive especially if Shayne was out of action for months. He started holidays the day of the fire so after his two weeks were over I needed to ensure we were going to be ok.  

Then, in some kind of fate, a friend through social media sent a message to the #spendwiththem initiative to ask if Rustic Wren could be featured. 

Well, RW was fortunate to be acknowledged and was featured. 

This was awesome! The exposure was phenomenal. 1000’s of people were checking out my website, sending beautiful well wishes and buying. Buying from my business in Lenswood, South Australia.

I had to pinch myself and it still gives me goosebumps today. I’m so deeply thankful for this and how it has changed my business and my life for the better. Because it was the injection of followers, exposure and $$$’s that we needed. 

Doors opened with wholesale and commercial opportunities. And, Rustic Wren is now seen as a credible, quality Australian business.

Because of this, I have been able to support my family and invest into my business.  But, I feel this may not have happened as successfully if I hadn’t put in the hard yards last year.  

2019 – what a year

I look back at how far we have come, how we could have fallen into a dark place and withdrawn from life, but Shayne and I together push through tough times. We know now we are a strong and resilient family unit and can achieve so much.  

The girls have had a lot to deal with and seeing their Dad in the early days was hard but they were better seeing him and knew he’d get a little better each day. They were so brave.

Shayne was incredibly brave too, making sure he got to safety to ensure he could come home to his family. 

We received so much wonderful support from so many lovely people, we have been truly humbled that people cared enough about us, some complete strangers, to take the time to send their love, best wishes, prayers for Shayne’s safe recovery. 

None of them were overlooked, we appreciated them all. I’m sure it helped with his recovery, and in doing so supported our whole family.



Facebook:  Rustic Wren


Website: www.rusticwren.com.au



Hi I’m Jess and I am the face and hands behind Rustic Wren. My passion is creating a Leather Journal for you, to fill with your handwritten dreams and memories. To help plan out a better life with the best version of you in it.  A ‘Rustic Wren’ Leather Journal is your ‘custodian of words’.