Closing Thoughts on the 2022 Mental Health Collection :')
*tap tap* Is this thing on? Welcome to the first blog post of 2022! (It only took 5 months, haha)
In the 3.25ish years of owning my business, I’ve been plagued by thoughts of what I should be doing for the majority of the time.
In the beginning, it was a literal nightmare. My to-do list said things like “make 5 Instagram posts per week,” “send emails on a regular basis,” “create x many new designs per week,” “review google analytics weekly,” etc. I was filling my plate with all the things I thought I should be doing, and of course – all of it piled up into unattainable goals. Then the spiral happened. I didn’t get those things done > I’m bad at my job > no one will want to support KYBI > my business will fail.
When the pandemic hit, I watched businesses that were started on a whim blow up overnight. I felt a lot of envy watching this. Here I was with my meticulous to-do lists, doing everything “right,” and for what? Flopped posts and burnout?
I was still creating designs and launching new things, but now I can look back on much of 2020 (and early 2021) and recognize that I was creating because it was what I thought I should be doing. (You know – instead of addressing the burnout and jealousy I was feeling daily.)
March and April of 2021 were a turning point for me. I reached a really low point where I thought “this isn’t working anymore,” and considered throwing in the towel. I was exhausted from my to-do lists filled with all the “shoulds” and the never-ending thoughts of “if you just do [this], then you’ll achieve [this].” My sales weren’t sustainable, and it felt like I was constantly working long hours without any payout.
In April 2021, I applied for a few jobs online, and ended up taking a part-time position to help fill the gaps of slow summer months. Shortly after that, a suggestion from a follower on Instagram led to a full-blown mental health collection in mid-May. These two things ended up being a game changer for me.
The part-time job helped remove the pressure I was feeling about doing enough, selling enough, being enough. The mental health collection made me realize a few things:
- I am not (and have never been) alone in my own struggles with anxiety and general mistreatment of myself.
- There were more people cheering KYBI on than I ever realized.
- I could use my business for more than just selling things. It could be used for good. (Since the introduction of mental health items, I've been able to donate $2190 and counting to ATX Mental Health Fund and TWLOHA. Holy moly.)
I launched my first mental health collection on May 14th, 2021, and within the first hour, it was the biggest launch ever. (Coincidentally enough, this year’s launch met last year's sales in the first hour, and I’m still feeling blown away by that fact.) I started getting messages of “these designs mean so much to me,” and “I can’t wait to put these in my counseling office,” and still the one that sticks with me most: “I’m buying this for my niece who attempted to take her life recently.”
Don’t get me wrong– I’m lucky enough to have some of the kindest customers on the face of this earth, and had gotten plenty of supportive messages in the past. But these messages were a new breed. Teachers who wanted these messages on display for their students, people who could have some beautiful artwork that they purchased as a tribute to someone they lost to suicide, friends buying things for each other to say “I’m here for you.” It was a breath of fresh air that I’ve never felt before. The designs were so much more than just stickers, tees, and decorations – they genuinely meant something to people past having a new cute item.
Literally every single design turned into a best-seller, and consequently, I was led to see them over and over again. And spoiler alert: at some point, you begin to read phrases like “you matter,” “be kind to your mind,” “mental health matters,” so much that you eventually internalize those messages. (You know when people say “the way you speak to yourself matters”? Same vibes.)
Throughout high school and college, I was notoriously hard on myself. And I was especially hard on myself about my business and the fact that I couldn’t do it all. But the mental health collection of last year literally changed my life. I learned to agree with the quotes on the items I was selling, and because I wanted to practice what I was preaching, I began to take better care of myself.
It started small: the first thing I did was start charging my phone across the room so I couldn’t doom-scroll. Over the course of 6 or so months, I started to add more: I started reading regularly, created a very steady routine for myself, began exercising 2, 3, and now usually 4-5 days per week. Most importantly, I stopped feeling guilty about taking breaks, and stopped speaking to myself like trash (for lack of a better word).
There are still hard days – there always will be. But now my self-talk sounds like “it’s okay to take a break,” “try again tomorrow,” “it will all get done,” and “it’s okay, just take a deep breath and start again.” It has genuinely made all the difference. It wasn’t an easy switch by any means – I noticed it was a change that took place over the course of ~8 months. And truly, it's forever a work in progress.
Now it’s May 2022, and I can look back on the past year and know that this is where I’m meant to be. The freedom I found over the past year gave me the courage to let go of the “shoulds,” (which is half the reason why my blog is mostly stagnant right now), and led me to finding pure joy within my business: from the designs I create to the conversations I’m able to have with my customers, and every single moment in between.
The collection that just came to fruition earlier this month was so much more than a group of new products: it was a celebration of learning to love myself, a strong and steady declaration that mental health matters, and more than anything, a tribute to everyone in my corner of the internet who needs to know that they are seen and loved – no matter where they are in their mental health journey.
Of course, the leading lady of the mental health launch was the introduction of a new and improved mental health journal, and that is where my heart is right now. I’ve soft-launched Write In The Feels – a program that will aim to make mental health journals accessible to anyone who needs it. So far, over 100 journals have sold, and I’ve already begun contacting those in need as well as some local organizations who can assist with distribution. I have never been more confident in the ability of one of my products to change lives, and that’s a joy that I’m cherishing so much right now. I let go of all the “shoulds,” and that created the room for a much more beautiful thing to blossom.
I don’t know what the next chapter holds for KYBI, but this genuinely feels like a new beginning, and I couldn’t be more excited. More than anything, I’m just so incredibly grateful for this moment. From the bottom of my heart – thank you for being here, and thank you for helping me find myself. Love you long time.