REAL LIFE

How Earrings Healed This Aussie Mum

When Zara suffered from postnatal depression, she was helped by her tiny creations
  • Zara Avila, 35, from Perth, WA was suffering postnatal depression
  • She began experimenting with clay as a therapeutic and creative outlet
  • Creating earrings from clay, she now has her business Hooked On You

Here Zara tells her story in her own words.

Cradling my baby girl in my arms, I was so in love.

‘Hello Maisie,’ I said, testing out her name.

Already parents to our son Heath, then two, my husband and I felt like we’d hit the jackpot.

Our road to parenthood was far from easy, though, after I was diagnosed with stage 5 endometriosis at 26.

‘You should have kids as early as possible,’ my gyno explained, adding that I’d have better luck falling pregnant if we used IVF.

I underwent my first round of IVF the following year, and was delighted when I fell pregnant.

Our little wonder baby Heath was born in December that year.

Becoming a stay-at-home mum, my beautiful bub and I spent our days reading books, swimming at the beach and going to the zoo.

When I fell pregnant naturally with our second child in June 2018, we couldn’t believe our luck.

Another miracle, I thought, rubbing my growing belly.

After a smooth delivery with Maisie in March 2019, I couldn’t wait to return home and enjoy the newborn stage again.

But I quickly found that Maisie was a troubled sleeper compared to her doting big brother who’d been a dream baby.

When she finally did go down, she’d be up again within 45 minutes.

With roughly three hours of sleep a night, I was a shell of a human. And when my hubby went back to work, it was harder managing two babies under three.

I started to feel incredibly anxious, overthinking even the smallest of things.

What if I’m not doing enough activities with the kids? I’d think, terrified others would think I was a bad mum.

Hooked On You Zara Avila
Maisie, Me, Eloise and Heath (Credit: Supplied.)

‘I loved my kids so much, and felt confused by my diagnosis’

Even when Maisie started sleeping better, my intrusive thoughts consumed me all day long.

‘You’re torturing yourself,’ my girlfriend Michelle told me over a cuppa, explaining I was sleep deprived.

I’d dropped 15 kilos in six months due to stress.

Peering in the mirror, I could see I was worlds apart from the bright, bubbly person my friends and family knew me to be.

Recognising something was wrong, that December I visited my GP, who diagnosed me with postnatal depression (PND).

I loved my kids so much, and felt confused by my diagnosis.

‘Maybe you need a creative outlet away from the kids,’ my husband encouraged.

I heard that playing with clay had therapeutic benefits for kids and adults, and decided to give it a go.

It sounded silly, but I had nothing to lose. So I bought some air drying clay online.

After putting the kids to bed, I sat at the dining table and moulded the colourful putty into different shapes.

This is actually quite soothing, I realised.

Wanting to create something light and quirky to cheer me up, I made a few tiny ice-cream sundaes.

Next, I created some teeny slices of fairy bread, sending a picture of them to my girlfriends.

These are adorable! they complimented my kooky creations.

They should be earrings! my friend Freya suggested.

Why not give it a shot? I thought.

Upgrading to more durable polymer clay, I sculpted some rainbows and baked them in the oven to set before adding the metal rings.

‘They’re very cute!’ my hubby said.

Hooked On You Zara Avila
Bubble O Bill earrings (Credit: Supplied.)

And they were cheap to create. Aside from my hands – and sometimes a scalpel for very fine work – I didn’t need any other tools.

After crafting some more jewellery, such as ladybugs and bees, I decided to sell them on the Etsy website and my Facebook account, Hooked On You Australia, in January 2020.

Just a few days later, I made my first sale – a pair of Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf earrings.

Quickly, my creations became a hit, selling over 100 pieces in the first month. The bestsellers were my hot cross bun earrings, inspired by Easter approaching.

Hooked On You Zara Avila
Me at my first market stall in 2020 (Credit: Supplied.)

‘My hobby has become a fun family affair’

I couldn’t believe something that was born from such a dark time in my life was bringing someone else joy. And the more time I spent on my passion project, the better I felt.

It was like I was being healed by my earrings.

It allowed me to be much more present with the kids during the day.

And when they had gone to bed, I’d craft for hours, letting my imagination run wild.

That June, I had my first major wholesale order of a bunch of pieces sold to the Les Wilson Barramundi Discovery Centre in North Queensland.

Afterwards, I launched my own website, and offered online classes for kids. I also began selling my jewellery at markets.

I’ve received so many requests over the years, too. A doctor ordered eight pairs of kidney earrings with smiley faces for the nurses in her team.

And, thanks to medication and support from my psychologist, I’ve since overcome my depression.

Thankfully, after welcoming our third child, Eloise, in September 2022, I didn’t have any recurrences.

Now my hobby has become a fun family affair.

Heath, now six, Maisie, four, and Eloise, nine months, love coming with me to the markets, handing out bags to customers.

Hooked On You
Maisie wearing clip-on bunny earrings (Credit: Supplied.)

They may be tiny, but my clay creations have made a huge difference and helped me be the best mum I can be.

For that, I’m forever grateful.

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