I was down to my last 99p & couldn’t feed the kids after my husband cheated – now I’m loaded with my property business

A MUM-of-two who was down to her last 99p after discovering her husband was having an affair now has her own successful business.

Nicky Bright, 51, from Cardiff, was at work as a store manager when she found out the shattering news that her husband had been unfaithful from her children.

Nicky said: "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. 

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“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.

"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. 

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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 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."

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 – then aged 16 and 21 – and whispering in the hall. 

Her daughter 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.

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. 

I remember going into my bank account and there was 99p in there so I couldn't even buy food for the kids. 

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."

Nicky had hosted foreign students studying in Wales at her home in the past so 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, and took time to look at her strengths.

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. 

Nicky came up with an idea of focusing on styling and interior design and combining it with her past property and hosting experience.

Of course, 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. 

Nicky Bright Holidays helps to redesign a client's holiday let and then manage the property for them – and Nicky also had the eventual aim of one day having her own holiday let too.

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.

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."

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. 

“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.

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.

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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. It's an experience."

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 favour 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, thought that pretty impossible to have done."

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