A year in review: From a founders point of view.
This year for me has been one of great enjoyment, fulfillment, and achievement. But also of difficulty and emotion mentally. From all the exciting media opportunities I've featured on, including the Today programme on Radio 4 on World Mental Health Day, breaking a Guinness World Record, doing more speeches in schools, colleges and universities and of course conquering my demons and attending Boomtown Fair, something I never thought possible. It's certainly been exciting!
We are also growing in a slowly but surely positive way, with that comes great responsibility, intense commitment and essentially, no social life, which for a 22-year-old can sometimes feel very difficult.
As MDC grows and requires more attention, my emotions and mental health take a bit of knock on certain days. Running your own business is one herculean task, one which I absolutely love and I wouldn't change what I'm doing for the world. The closer you get, the harder it gets. There are days when I feel lonely, question what I'm doing with my life, wonder whether I'm actually helping others and forever suffering from imposter syndrome.
With all that being said, the positives outweigh all the negatives, I cannot thank everyone who has supported me along the way enough for what they have done. As you will see I've made a list of people who have been inspirational and incredible to me over the year. To say I am unbelievably grateful for everything that has happened is an understatement.
We are all going to experience difficulties along the unpredictable journey of life, but if we do not have difficulties, we will never learn from them and understand when to appreciate what we have in life.
I have selected a few of the highlights from 2018 which I'd love to share with you all and the story behind them (notice the varying hairstyles through the year)
I made the decision to start telling my story to other young people to encourage them to open up about their own mental health problems, hopefully spreading the inspiration that it is ok to suffer from a mental health problem.
I was invited to speak at Condé Nast College of Fashion and Design, a rather daunting but 'starting with a bang' moment. Previous speakers at the college have included but not limited to:
- Edward Enninful OBE (Editor in Chief- British Vogue)
- Victoria Beckham
- Tommy Hilfiger
- Bella Freud
- Sam McKnight
I was a little nervous then, but there's nothing like being thrown in at the deep end and if I could conquer this one, I could conquer any speech and I did! They even wrote an article about it.
Since then, I have gone on to do speeches at further schools, colleges, and universities in front of 250 young students in one room! Even corporations, including Google, Edelman UK, and Alexander Mann Solutions.
I also go into Mental Health units around the country delivering workshops to young sufferers, the most recent was Bluebird House in Southampton.
Moving into April
An opportunity that probably doesn't come up that often, if at all. We got the chance to show the new collection at The Communications Store press day in April S/S, there isn't much more to say on this other than, if your gut is telling you to do something, then just do it.
May with many memories.
At the start of May, I got asked if I wanted to climb Mount Snowdon, in particular, the Crib Goch trial of the mountain, this was for Macmillan Cancer Support. I'm an incredibly active person and hate regretting things, so I couldn't say no.
Probably one of the more treacherous activities I've taken part in, it was very high, quite difficult but mentally stimulating, both for the adrenaline rush and fear.
It took around 12 hours to complete the round trip - Across the ridge of Crib Goch, to the top of Snowdon, then down the 'up and over' route to the bottom. I would highly recommend doing this, but with someone who has climbed it before.
At the end of May, I received an email from a friend asking if I'd be interested in appearing on BBC Breakfast because they needed someone young to talk about their mental health experience. I fit the part and went up to Manchester that same day and was due to appear the next morning at 7 am with Steph McGovern and Dan Walker.
Very exciting, representing MDC in my Warrior T-shirt and all the young people currently suffering.
August 2018, a big month of achievement.
In December 2017, I made the decision that I wanted to attend Boomtown Fair in Winchester, a festival full of electronic and eclectic music with a fantastic backstory.
This was a very big step for me in terms of my mental health, 6 years after attending my first festival and experiencing the MDMA, I was heading back to one. Boomtown Fair isn't exactly for the faint hearted either.
I still had the fears and worries of 'what if' thinking, my anxious mind questioning whether I'd take something again, but that's all it was my anxious mind. I left these thoughts at security and had a fantastic time with my sister and friend! As you can see in the image below.
October comes with a bang...
October is a big month for mental health campaigners, World Mental Health Day lands on the 10th of October. In 2017 I cycled 150 miles for YoungMinds Charity and raised around £1500 for them. In 2018, they invited me to represent them at the Global Mental Health Summit, an event put on by the Government bringing leaders from around the world to share ideas on how best to combat and improve mental health services.
Along with another young person, we spoke to representatives from around the world, asking and answering questions about the UK mental health services. We spoke to people from; Canada, Bermuda, Nigeria and the USA.
On the 10th October, I got a call from YM asking if I'd like to appear on the Radio 4 Today programme talking about my story, this was a major opportunity I was incredibly excited about. I spoke to Mishal Husain about my story and the very unfortunate waiting list time I was told, the response I received was huge. At such short notice, I actually had to find somewhere to stay in London, my friend very kindly put me up on the sofa.
After doing this, I then went over to the City to do a speech at Alexander Mann, continuing to share my story in the workplace, with the hope of spreading encouragement but also the knowledge that it is ok to talk about your mental health.
Nearing the end of the year, we're entering record-breaking November!
An opportunity which rarely comes up, if at all, is being given the chance to break a Guinness World Records title, I was fortunate enough to be given this very opportunity in November.
The title was for the largest blacklight UV painting based on Mental Health. It took around 10 hours to complete, a lot of paint, a lot of aching limbs and rolling the paint, a lot of snacks but all worth it as we did indeed break the record!!
Holding the award with the artist, Livi Gosling in my Maison de Choup overalls (the only time this is probably acceptable to wear!)
Below is a video of the day!
It's beginning to look a lot like December
Probably one of the hardest months for quite a lot of people's mental health, including mine, the pressures of present buying and getting everything perfect is a mammoth task.
On top of that, I was doing a lot of school Christmas Fair's which are brilliant fun, if a little exhausting after doing my part-time job.
Near the end of December in the run-up to Christmas, I did 11 mornings in a row from 4am-8am getting up at 2:45 am for my part-time job, then coming home and working on the brand, further then doing the market on Saturday (in the rain, and wind and cold) which wasn't the most pleasant experience and it's safe to say was starting to take it's toll not just on my mental health, but also my physical health as well.
It's been a pretty busy but incredibly exciting year, full of ups and downs, but essentially it has been positive and everything is moving in the right direction.
With continued determination, passion, and support, my dream of changing the way people talk about mental health using fashion as a vehicle to do that is slowly coming to life.
I just want to end by thanking you all again SO much for all your support, emails, DM's, messages, tweets, and comments. It encourages me to do more and push further for better mental health support in the UK but also confirms to me that I am doing the right thing and whenever I question myself, I just have to remember all of you.
Just a few of the people who are always supporting and inspiring me:
Time to Change (Jodie Goodacre & Jocelyn Cox)
I do hope everyone has a positive and prosperous 2019.
There is so much exciting things coming in the next few months! So stay tuned and keep in touch.
Always remember if you are struggling, do not hesitate to drop me an email and talk about it or even phone.
firstname.lastname@example.org / 07850109114
All the love in the world.