Bobby Napier

CITY: Gold Coast

Business: Sketch Marks
What? Sketch Marks prepares women to sit as a muse, and celebrates the power of life drawing as a tool for self-acceptance


How did the idea for your business first come about?
I had been life modelling for several years and it had done wonders for my body confidence, but I had never considered it as something to let others know about - it just was.

Then one day while posing, I was shamed by a female artist, who herself may have had body image issues. What she said hurt, and it reminded me of the fragility of my own body confidence and self-worth. I wanted to start a drawing class that adored the female models and let them know they are beautiful, no matter how they may perceive themselves. I wanted this woman to be part of it too!

During my next few poses, I decided to start my own life drawing sessions, but the details were sketchy (pardon the pun!)
Through a series of very interesting events I met Jesse (she was an artist in the crowd that night) and we made the effort to meet.

Two days later, Jesse told me her story; she had put herself out there, in that same space, just one week prior to me. Jesse had been living with some pretty nasty demons regarding her body, and in a brave move, she decided to face them head on and bare her all to a room full of artists. To her surprise, Jesse's terror fell away, she felt adored and respected, she saw her body in a different light. She felt transformed. 

Jesses' experience was so powerful, she decided then and there to also start her own life drawing class, wanting other women to feel what she had felt. When we met that day, just one cocktail in, Sketch Marks was born!

When did you have a ‘f*ck-it moment’ and decide you were going to go all-in and start your business?

 The day I met Jesse! The way it all had unfolded, it was just so clear this was something we had to create. We both were working full time at that stage so we would spend every spare minute we had together, diligently working. I have just recently given up my 9-5 and boy does it feel scary!! But I keep telling myself, it's like childbirth. You can't work full time, you may lose a few friends who aren't on the same page and it takes a lot out of you!! But giving birth to something is amazing and rewarding and this is exactly what we're doing. And it's going to be beautiful.

What were some major challenges you had when starting your business? And how did you overcome them?

We're still having them!! I'm finding my biggest challenge is losing friendships! I thought people would be happy for me but I'm finding a lot of my closest, longest friends have fallen away or are not supportive at all. I have had to do a lot of inner work to process this and to let go of these expectations. I've been rewarded tenfold though and have met so many amazing, strong and inspiring women along the way. Joining groups such as League is part of my process to overcome this challenge. I look forward to meeting more local business women. I am big on women supporting women and want to find areas to connect, collaborate, share and support.

What has been your biggest “pinch me” moment?

Well we're only in the early stages but I'd have to say it was at our launch party. We had been sharing the program on social media and in print but mostly to people we personally knew or recently met. When we planned the launch party we just assumed the room would be filled with friends and family, but we were so wrong! Half the room was filled with faces we didn't know!! People from the community who had seen or heard about Sketch Marks and wanted to know more! It was so encouraging and the whole night was just magical!

Starting a business can be gruelling - what keeps you motivated, and keeps you going?

Just knowing the worth of what I'm doing. I have always been passionate about empowering women, I've just never had clear direction. Now I have direction and an equally passionate and driven business partner. I am up late most nights working on Sketch Marks. It gives me so much joy even though it's time consuming and laborious!!

How do you create a work-life balance?

I work in cafes for a bit of a social life!! Or I go to events with a similar message so I can feel nurtured and meet people with the same vision. 
I live near the beach and go for nature walks when it's all too much - I end up getting the best ideas for the business here!! 
I have a teenage son who lives at home with me so it's important I stop for him, whenever he needs me. 
I have had to create strong boundaries for myself regarding friendships and what I can commit to others, so that I can nurture myself first, my son second, Sketch Marks third, then whatever else there is time for beyond that! It won't always be this hard I know, it's just that whole "having a baby" thing!

Words of Wisdom / Personal Quote

2018 is my year to nurture what nurtures me. I have ended toxic friendships and work situations to honour myself and my path. 
I am doing things for me and understand everyone needs to do the same for themselves, without apology or excuses.
So my favourite saying right now is: "It's 2018 baby/lady/girl - you do you!"

I also have a quote of my own, which is fundamental to the Sketch Marks message and that is "My body is my most loyal friend" 
I read a lot about CBT and one day I realised no matter what we ask our bodies to do, they do it. Even if we ask our bodies to hurt themselves, they will oblige. Our bodies are there for us always. I think we forget this because we can't always see them. If you imagine yourself standing behind yourself, your body there ready for you for whatever you need. It can remind you that YES we have this big beautiful capable body there for us all the time!! ALL THE TIME!! Our bodies are our most loyal friends. And we got to love and appreciate them for that.