Sally Goncalves is a philanthropist, mental health advocate, and entrepreneur. Her company, Outta, is a social lifestyle brand that sells self care awareness apparel. 10% of all Outta's proceeds go to mental health initiatives, and all of the company's clothing is Canadian made. Our student, Rachel, had the opportunity to ask Sally some questions about mental health, starting a company, and the importance of self care.
Thanks so much Sally for chatting with mindyourmind, and check out her cool clothes at http://getouttayourhead.com/
Outta is a very unusual company. Why did you choose clothing, specifically, as a product, and how do you think it connects to mental health awareness?
I haven't heard the term unusual to describe my company, I will take that as a compliment? (Of course it is! ~mym). I chose clothing because it is a great vehicle to use to spread awareness about meaningful issues. The message we are spreading is one that encourages people to start taking care of their minds just like we do our bodies. The care towards mental health has been neglected in the past and now more than ever the necessity for self care has become crucial in our culture, this especially true for youth. So that's what our messaging is all about, to get out of your head and do something for your mind, body and spirit.
Why did you choose to use Canadian made bamboo clothing? How does it tie into your cause?
I chose to use Canadian made clothing because supporting the Canadian economy was important to me and also providing ethically made products to my customers is something that I wanted the brand to be part of. My company is a social lifestyle brand which means the company is based on value and giving back. I would not feel comfortable building a company any other way, so it ties in 100%. We sell tees and tanks right now that are made with bamboo and organic cotton making it the perfect product for active or lounge wear. Bamboo has a long list of benefits for both the environment and personal use as well and it's super soft which is a bonus!
What was the hardest part about starting your business?
The hardest part is trying to do it all on my own and figure everything out by myself which is totally ridiculous and causes me to want to pull my hair out at times. I don't have a background in business so I have learned to ask for help and outsource what I need to. Being an entrepreneur comes with so many ups and downs, something I was not prepared for. I have definitely learned a lot about myself since starting this company.
Running a business can be stressful. What do you do to maintain work-life balance?
Yes, it can be stressful, but this has taught me how I want to handle and react to the stress that may come up. Self-care is my priority, always. I have spent enough years not taking care of myself and know how this affects my mental health, so I am pretty strict with my routine. I meditate every morning for 15 mins, practice yoga or walk 2-3 times a week. I also make time to connect with my friends for support and to have some good laughs with. However, on the other side of that I also like to have time to myself and I schedule this in too without feeling guilty about it. You have to know what it is you need and make it a priority for yourself.
Tell us a bit about your mental health journey, and how it affects you and your work today.
My mental health journey began when I was fairly young, probably around 8-10 years of age is the earliest I can remember experiencing anxiety. I come from a family who have all struggled with some form of mental Illness. It's been years of relapsing with depression and anxiety for me since. I have social anxiety that I manage daily and has been a challenge since starting Outta. Something I have to work on as I am put in social situations all the time now. I was ashamed to speak up about it until I began my company, now I speak about it openly and my perspective has changed. Before I would look at it like it was something I shouldn't have or I should be able to turn it off, this caused a lot of stress and more anxiety etc... Now I look at it as my mind gets ill sometimes just like my body does, no difference. I do what I need to do to help heal my mind and I don't feel bad about it anymore. That's why self-care is so important and what has been the most helpful for my experience and that's where the idea for my company all stems from.
Think back to when you were struggling with mental health. What is one thing you would say to your former self, or what would you say to young people out there who are currently struggling?
Yes, so the very most important thing, the number one is to reach out. You have to talk about what's going on in your mind, just like you would if your body was not well. It's a shift in perspective that makes all the difference and releases the stigma. Find someone to speak to first and then determine whether you need more, a doctor, a therapist or a support group etc... Whatever you may need to help you get better, because you will get better. Mental illness comes up with a lot of lies and when you are stuck in that struggle it certainly feels like there is no way out. The second thing I always suggest is to find something that will help quiet the mind a bit, this is difficult, I know. But if you can find something that helps you even for a moment then this builds confidence and gives hope. When our minds are constantly telling us negative comments it's difficult to feel good. Find your center everyday even if it's just for a moment, baby steps create big changes and overtime you will start to see results. And always allow yourself the space to feel whatever you are feeling, let it visit, it won't stay if you can just be with it. I know this is difficult too, but the only way to manage mental health issues is to be with it. It's the fear that makes it worse and can lead to further unhealthy choices. It's important to discover the right coping tools to navigate through mental health issues. The resources are available, find what works for you.