My son and I just returned from Americasmart in Atlanta, Georgia. America’s largest tradeshow in the country where there is building after building, floor after floor of products for the wholesale giftware trade. This is where the magic happens, showcasing products from hundreds of categories hoping for that one big break.
When we entered the building each morning it was buzzing with people. Some like us scrambling to get to work and show products. Others, store owners or corporate buyers, looking for the next hottest thing. Jam packed escalators and elevators stopping at each of the 18 floors. I always become completely aware of how lost one can feel in millions of square feet of showroom space – 7 million square feet to be exact. SEVEN. Million.
There is so much to choose from. From jewelry to
We spent days talking to perspective customers, pointing out the selling features of our Seriously Shea brand. Bright bold colors, amazing low retails, easy to merchandise counter displayers and the fact it is made in USA with essential oils and shea butter, vegan and cruelty free. My son and I are exceptionally proud of the brand we have created together.
But what makes me the proudest, isn’t how well received our products were, is the reaction we got when we talk about our company’s commitment to mental health, pointing out our logo with a portion of all sales donated to mental illness programs and organizations.
What happens almost always is that short sentence opens the door to conversation. It gives an instant feeling of safety, without judgement, and the tone changes from a perspective customer to just two people talking as they share a story on how they have been impacted by mental illness. I heard stories of addiction in the family, a daughter telling me about her mom’s suicide attempt, depression, bi-polar and even a CEO of a national brand wanting our opinion on how his company can do more as he felt this was an important cause.
As I listened to everyone’s unique narrative, I understood. Every. Single. Word. As I said earlier, I am always completely aware of how lost one can feel, not like a needle in a haystack vying against other companies like mine trying to secure business but rather just lost for no particular reason at all.
My son and I have also been touched by mental illness and addiction. It runs wild in our family from generation to generation. Sadly, we were not encouraged to talk about our feelings in my family. Shame, secrets, stigma and SILENCE play a huge role, not only in societies understanding and acceptance, but in recovery.
I am the daughter, step-daughter, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, niece, great-niece, aunt, cousin and sister to alcoholics. Many of those people, maybe all of them, struggled with mental health issues, although no one knew it at the time. My brother, Ryan’s Uncle, lost his brave battle with addiction and mental illness in 2012 when he took his own life. He was only 39. I struggle with depression. And so, I know first hand how important it is to look after yourself, on the inside. And to support the ones you love. Not to be ashamed to ask for help, even if you are a grown man.
As a mother, what is gratifying and joyous is watching my son speak about mental health without any shame and allowing me to point my finger in his direction to strangers and talk about how he began having panic attacks and anxiety when he was in grade 1. While I have always been more outgoing, he is quieter and more reserved breaking out of his comfort zone and flourishing. Confident in knowing his story and experience can help others.
So, do we hope that some day we see our products on the store shelves at Ulta Beauty? Yes, of course. But our main motivation isn’t financial gain, it is fulfillment and pride. My son and I believe we can build a successful brand not only based on offering amazing products for men and women, but by doing good. We want to remind everyone that self-care is important. It is not selfish, it is necessary. That life is extremely beautiful, but at times it can be painfully challenging. Take time for yourself and encourage others to do the same.
We are just as gratified to be offered at that small little boutique in McKinney, Texas or Lebanon, Tennessee as we are very aware, just like people, one store isn’t more important than the other. From our family to yours we hope you enjoy our relaxing products and that they create conversation, empathy and compassion in your life and the life of the ones you love.