Mum’s amazing transformation from being cheated on and down to her last 99p to running her own business

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When your phone doesn’t stop ringing when you are at work and it’s your two children trying to get hold of you, even if it’s a very busy day, you feel compelled to answer. Nicky Bright was the store manager of a retail outlet with an annual turnover of over £3m, and she was totally immersed in her workday de ella but the persistence of her children de ella, then aged 16 and 21, to get hold of her made her worry.

There was no accident, but it was a phone call that totally shattered Nicky’s world and sunk her to the depths of despair and the loss of all she knew. Nicky, 51 and from Cardiff, told Wales Online: “So I take the call and, it happened really quickly, my son said: ‘Mum, Dad’s having an affair’. Both my children found out before me and I was just: ‘ Wow, wow, it can’t be right’. I even thought my kids were wrong – how could they know he was having an affair?

“It took me about five minutes to get home and the whole time I was driving back I was just constantly thinking I just wanted to find out if this was true.” At home Nicky confronted her husband who confirmed it was true and he wanted to leave.

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Nicky said: “The complete shock of thinking: ‘Why wasn’t I aware of it? What happens next?’ This was the only life I’ve ever known.How would things change now?How could I afford to live on my own with the children and mortgage?It was going to be impossible.

“I cried morning, noon and night for the first eight weeks. I couldn’t stop – the feelings I was feeling were so overwhelming. You feel as if you’ve lost somebody, like they’ve died, but you also lose yourself too and everything else that goes with that – it was horrific.



Nicky gets stuck into a renovation project
Nicky gets stuck into a renovation project

“I was knocked off my feet completely for a year – upside-down, on the floor – struggling to keep on top of the bills. Financially I was cashing in all my savings but I just couldn’t keep my head above water – the mortgage was big, gas and electricity was massive, I was falling behind with everything.”

Over the months Nicky struggled with the stress of the situation. She lost weight, her hair started falling out, and within a year she had to leave work.

She said: “I felt like my old life had completely gone and I struggled so much I couldn’t concentrate on work, I couldn’t do the job anymore. I was going backwards and it was absolutely terrifying. I started selling things to try and keep paying the mortgage because I knew I didn’t want the house to be repossessed.

“I remember going into my bank account and there was 99p in there so I couldn’t even buy food for the kids. I am so lucky my parents could come up and buy food. It is the most horrific feeling in the world. I I wanted to drown my sorrows and I was going into a very bad place. I knew I was going down and I almost felt like I was being dragged into the darkness somewhere that was so horrible. It was just very, very scary.”

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Then, one evening when Nicky was at total rock bottom, as she lay in darkness knowing she was about to lose the house and had no fight left, she heard her children whispering in the hall. Her daughter de ella said she was too afraid to open the door and go into the dark room because she thought her mum might have taken her own life de ella.

Remembering that moment makes Nicky emotional as she recalls hearing the fear in her daughter’s voice – it was the shock that she needed to try to drag herself back up. Nicky said: “So from there I just decided: ‘Okay, you’ve been a boss, you know how to make money, you’ve turned things around in the store – now come up with a solution.”



BEFORE: The cottage Nicky has worked hard to get – going from nothing to picking up the keys
BEFORE: The cottage Nicky has worked hard to get – going from nothing to picking up the keys

Nicky had hosted foreign students studying in Wales at her home in the past, and it gave her the idea to rent out the house to get some income as she worked out a plan. She moved out with only a suitcase of clothes and belongings left, stayed with her parents de ella, and took time to look at her strengths de ella.

She had worked as an estate agent and she had run her own furniture upcycling cottage business when the children were small before she went into retail. She loved interior design and felt she had a creative flair, so Nicky came up with an idea of ​​focusing on styling and interior design and combining it with her past property and hosting experience.

Raising funds for a new business was hard so the house did get sold to pay off some debt but with the help of a solid business plan, the Swansea Building Society, local government grant money, and support from Business Wales her new business was born. Through the Covid-19 lockdowns, she worked on her branding and fine tuning the business plan and even changed her name to Nicky Bright.



AFTER: The Nicky magic dust has been sprinkled, starting with the outside
AFTER: The Nicky magic dust has been sprinkled, starting with the outside

Nicky said: “That felt like a rebirth – it was amazing. I felt really excited about the business too – this is something I’m really passionate about, that I love, and I know I’m good at doing. I thought: ‘I love Wales and I love property so I’m going to go for it.'”

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There were stressful moments where Nicky would relocate to the beach at Ogmore-by-Sea and walk for the whole day on the sand listening to motivational podcasts. But the determination was as solid as the rocks at the beach and eventually Nicky Bright Holidays was born with the selling point of redesigning a client’s holiday let and then managing the property for them but also with the eventual aim of one day having her own holiday let too.

Nicky said: “I started taking on friends’ properties and I was doing those up for them and putting them on Airbnb and booking sites. I set myself up as a travel agent so I got trained up in that and then I’d go in and set them all up and manage them and they have all been growing.”



BEFORE: dated kitchen
BEFORE: dated kitchen

Now Nicky has secured and just finished doing up her own holiday let and she couldn’t be happier. She said: “It’s an amazing feeling to have my own cottage. Naughty me, I went to view it before I had funding but something in me said I had to go and see it – there was just something about it.

“I just really loved it. I could visualize straightaway what I wanted to do in there. It was very old-fashioned, very loved, owned by a woman in her 90s. It had a lovely feeling about it. So I worked hard to get all my paperwork together and business plan to the bank to show them what I could do with it I knew that I was going to turn it into a three-bedroom with two bathrooms.” And so the cottage transformation began.

Nicky has built up a network of numerous sources for securing statement pieces she finds to create the most amazing interiors for her clients’ holiday lets and now her own. She combines this with clever and unusual design ideas to make each holiday let a unique experience.



AFTER: What an amazing transformation
AFTER: What an amazing transformation

And with her own cottage she’s added luxury touches and quirky extras like the gorgeous metal bath and the feature oak on the wall supplied from her son’s timber business. One fun design element that families love is the net flooring in the kids’ first-floor den where they can feel independent but parents can have a sneaky glance up at what they are doing.

She said: “I want to give my guests an experience – they are going to come into Wales, discover the most beautiful gems of Pembrokeshire, all the beaches, and while they’re in the property it’s not just a holiday home with a bed and a towel on it.

The aim is for guests to fall in love with a holiday let that she had created and to feel that it is luxury but also welcoming like a home. So she fills them with beautiful sofas and chairs, handmade cushions, and antiques and for her ella own cottage Nicky has sourced the most beautiful bathtub for a touch of luxury.

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Nicky said: “There’s been no real challenges. With some of the floors we were worried about the weight. We had to lift up the floors and make sure they were all securely bolted down plus do a full rewire. But if there was a problem we resolved it.” And at no point did Nicky ever doubt what she was doing at her own holiday let de ella and years of hardship meant living in a building site did not faze her.

Of all the special areas Nicky has created in her holiday let the main bedroom is her special spot. She said: “I actually sleep so well in the cottage because if I open my eyes the sky light above frames the stars. They shine down so brightly that you can just see all of them, it’s beautiful, so that’s my favorite spot. It’s so gorgeous looking through the sky light.”

Now the holiday let transformation is complete and Nicky is glad she has spent extra budget on the finishing touches to the design to make it an extra special experience for her guests. She said: “Everyone who has stayed so far has said that it’s gorgeous and even after days staying there they are discovering new things. I have got a range of beautiful books there, hidden mice made out of wood on top of the beams – I ‘ve just made it special for them.”

And of the extra luxury touches that again have added to the size of the renovation budget Nicky stands by her choices. She said: “Lots of people have said: ‘That looks expensive – why did you put that in there?’ and I say that it’s for my guests. Without my guests I don’t have a business and I want them, when they leave, to have absolutely adored it.”

Looking back the journey Nicky has been on over the past five years has been full of battles with drama and depression that have eventually created a new dawn and the birth of a totally reinvigorated and determined person. Nicky said: “My husband did me a favor because by falling I picked myself up and by picking myself back up I created a new person, a new life, a new identity, a new home, and a new business and I would have, in the past, I thought that pretty impossible to have done.”

For anyone struggling then as well as seeking help with challenges Nicky said you’re the only person who can make something good happen. She added: “Focus on what it is you want and it will come to you through hard work and determination – but the biggest thing that will hold you back is fear of failure or it not turning out how you want it to be. But that mustn’t be – you have to get rid of that.



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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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