Erasing Stigmas & Spreading Love: An In-depth Interview With Self-Care Is For Everyone
What comes to mind when you think of self-care?
Here at Greatness Media, we’re passionate about the continual pursuit of self-improvement, but NEVER at the expense of putting your self-care on the back burner. In fact, self-care should be a consistent practice you take along with you on your journey to Greatness.
That’s why we’re excited to share this special, in-depth interview with you today. We recently had the opportunity to sit down with the founders of Self-Care Is For Everyone, an apparel & lifestyle brand that’s taking the internet by storm with their powerful, positive messages.
10 Questions With Self-Care Is For Everyone
1a.) Tell us about your founders and how you all met.
Self-Care Is For Everyone is a small family business that was founded on World Kindness Day 2018 by self-care & mental health advocates: Sasha Aronzon-Martofel, Sasha’s husband AJ Martofel, & AJ’s older brother Jonathan Martofel, LMFT 126269.
We are family members and best friends who share a passion for promoting healing spaces and helping others to feel less alone. As the children of immigrants, we stand for equality and believe all individuals should have the right to safety, acceptance, and support to keep growing and thriving.
In 2018, we set out to curate and promote the art and teachings of mental health advocates, therapists, and many other healers. Our goal was to stay connected and help one another when feelings of isolation, burnout and hopelessness would arise along our respective healing journeys. It has been a true joy to be family members who closely collaborate on cultivating this stigma-free space online where the voices of this community are amplified and individuals can feel seen and supported. Our community can count on us for daily reminders that inspire hope, as we invite dialogue and reflection around all things mental health and self-care.
1b.) What inspired you to create your company?
We were inspired to create this company because we shared a passion connected to mental health and we had a desire to work on something greater, together. We recognized that there was a hole in the market in 2018. There was so much divisiveness happening in the world and online (still is, of course) and we wanted to create a brand where messages that apply to everyone could exist. What felt universal was the need for more reminders of hope and kindness, as well as awareness of all the support resources available when someone is going through a difficult time and may not know where to turn to. Self-care felt like the thing that everyone deeply needed more of in their life. This was true in 2018 and has only become that much more evident in the years since.
Creating a community around this messaging felt unifying and needed. Firmly tying self-care practices to mental health wellness under this umbrella of @selfcareisforeveryone was somewhat novel at the time and it was clear that there was a large portion of humans going on these social media platforms who really resonated with this connection of self-care and mental health, as we immediately found ourselves growing to the tune of 5,000 new followers a day (!) soon after our launch.We were eager to show up where people were spending so much of their time – online.
Social media has become where almost everyone unwinds or mindlessly goes to in moments of boredom or even as an escape from anxiety. The messages that users subconsciously absorb through social media becomes how they view their world and also has a major impact on their mental health. Often, as Instagram users scroll through their feeds, they find themselves flooded with aspirational images and messaging. It can be easy to fall into a habit of comparing their low moments to others’ filtered, highlight reels. We wanted to become a counter-message in those moments to remind them that they are already enough, just as they are.
When we were first curating our Instagram feed, we were really inspired by the artists we were finding on the platform and we knew that we wanted to spotlight, credit, and work with them in some capacity. We decided that by partnering with them and offering their incredible art on clothing products, we could take these messages that were helping folks feel seen online and helping to normalize conversations around mental health and our community could then take these messages with them out into their communities and be a beacon for even more conversation. And that’s what we did and we’re proud to have shipped out over 100,000 reminders to this point all over the world!
1c.) When was the moment you realized this could become more than an idea/message and turn into a business?
From the start, we wanted these reminders to travel and have an impact offline instead of just staying within the confines of social media. One of our co-founders, AJ Martofel, had a few years of experience in e-commerce and garment printing and so we knew we wanted to start by offering up these same reminders we were sharing online on garments that folks could wear and carry around with them all day, while inviting dialogue from anyone they pass by who could use the reminder as well.
2.) How can we ALL help erase the stigma surrounding mental health?
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health concern in the US, affecting 40 million adults. (https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/facts-statistics)
Over 2.5 million youth in the U.S. have severe depression, and multiracial youth are at greatest risk. (https://mhanational.org/issues/state-mental-health-america)
In 2022, over half of adults with a mental illness still do not receive treatment, totaling over 27 million adults in the U.S. who are going untreated. (https://mhanational.org/issues/state-mental-health-america)
On average, there are 130 suicide deaths per day in the US and the rates continue to increase. (https://afsp.org/suicide-statistics/)
Here at Self-Care Is For Everyone, we believe we are in the rare position to start to turn these numbers around as our customers and the overall visitors to our platforms skew 18-34 years of age. By continuing to provide them with self-care reminders, positive affirmations, community, and therapist-made resources, we are empowering these individuals to seek help.
As studies have shown, there is hope:
- “If someone can get through the intense, and short, moment of active suicidal crisis, chances are they will not die by suicide.” In fact, “most people who survive a suicide attempt – 85 to 95 percent – go on to engage in life.” (https://afsp.org/what-we-ve-learned-through-research)
We envision a world where conversations around mental health are normalized and self-care is practiced by all. We know it will take more than self-care to solve societal issues that lead to mental health challenges, but through self-care, we hope to develop a healing-centered relationship to our day-to-day emotional and mental health, employing a variety of tools and techniques to support self-regulation, nurturance, and connection.
Shame and secrecy contribute to stigma. Shame is the feeling that comes from the presence of stigma, and the feeling of shame makes you want to keep your struggles a secret. This is the loop Self-Care is For Everyone is working so hard to break.
We lovingly refer to the clothing and accessories we offer on our website as ‘self-care reminders’ and ‘conversation starters’. Every time someone wears one in their local community, or shares a photo to their social media feeds, they are passing on an empowering message to those crossing their path who may be in need. We all need reminders to slow down and be gentle with ourselves.
One of the biggest pieces of feedback we get from our community is how many conversations their self-care reminders have started when they wear them out. The reminders we offer can help people interact with one another when they see the message out in the world. One reminder seen by others can help end the stigma of suicide or make someone feel less alone in their struggle. One of the first steps for bringing awareness is wearing these reminders out in the world. Whether the advocate wears their reminder to school, work, or to the grocery store, they will be bringing hope to those around them.
Another way to help erase the stigma is by talking about mental health and by not being afraid to open up and share when you may be struggling. You can start by reaching out to friends and having vulnerable conversations with those around you. Checking in on one another’s mental health will normalize the conversations in your inner circle and if your loved ones are ever struggling at any point in their life, they will know they can talk to you and ask for help when they need it. This can save someone’s life.
Mental health also needs to be prioritized in the work environment. Hustle culture can be really toxic when it comes to mental health because it asks you to set aside your own mental health needs in order to grow in your position and be valuable in society. Because most people spend more time working than they do with their loved ones, mental health days should be offered because work often brings stress which can highly contribute to mental health struggles.
When stressed, the body produces more cortisol (the stress hormone) to help us manage what is triggering us; however, over time, those high levels of cortisol wear the body down and leave us susceptible to illness and injury. By practicing self-care, you help your body to decrease levels of cortisol in the body which will help your body (including your mind!) to strengthen and heal.
3.) What are three things that belong in everyone’s “self care tool kit”?
- Kindness and compassion matter so much. Start with being kind and gentle with yourself and it will be easier to be kinder to everyone around you.
- Your breath is always with you. It’s what keeps you grounded when you’re anxious, it’s what brings you into the present moment.
- When in doubt, rest. Making sure your own energy battery is recharged is vital to keep going. Build a relationship with yourself where you check-in and become aware of when your body is needing rest.
4.) What’s one thing you think is missing from the conversation when it comes to prioritizing self-care in one’s life?
There are misconceptions of self-care that make it seem like acts of self-care are always enjoyable and relaxing. However, self-care includes the very boring parts of your day or the hard and uncomfortable tasks that you have to take care of. Plus, making self-care fit into your schedule can feel like a battle of its own. That’s why we feel it is important to acknowledge that self-care isn’t easy.
We also believe there is a false impression on who self-care is “for”. That’s why the part of our name, “For Everyone” acknowledges that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to this work; rather, this is about each person developing their own ongoing relationship to their own self.
Sadly, self-care in many respects has also been made unattainable to many. Not having enough free time or finances are valid reasons to feel as though one can’t practice self-care. Healing spaces can feel impossible to access. There are many barriers that remind us that even at reduced rates, things like finding the right fit when it comes to support systems or finding spaces that feel truly safe, may be challenging.
Further, when self-care is viewed as an experience that one must purchase, it makes the concept of self-care become less attainable too. This point of view pushes us to feel that we can only be complete and healing when we buy something or fix something about ourselves. Self-care, however, is the self-preservation work that must happen on a daily, moment-to-moment basis.
Self-care is breathing through discomfort and leading with care and compassion toward self and others in the community. It is taking that nap or calling it a night if you are sensing you are tired. It is keeping a cup or bottle of water next to you so that you stay hydrated throughout your day. It is reaching out for help when it feels hard to keep going.
5.) What advice do you have for readers/entrepreneurs who want more people to hear about their message?
- Find what matters to you and show up for it consistently.
- Focus on habits instead of motivation. You won’t always feel motivated but habits help you create a system to show up for.
- Always be willing to learn and share what you learn along the way with others.
- Remember that it’s okay to ask for help.
- Be kind and know that kindness will always find its way back to you.
- Your voice matters even when it feels like it doesn’t.
- On the days you feel like giving up, remember why you started.
- You are exactly where you need to be.
- It’s okay to prioritize your mental health.
- Progress, not perfection: a small step forward is still a step forward.
6.) If you had one piece of apparel for the world to remember you by, what would it be and why?
We are a hopeful brand at heart so we would have to go with our ‘What If It All Works Out?’ reminder illustrated by Cami Zea (@zeaink on Instagram).
Something that’s really important to us is listening to our community’s feedback that they share with us every day. Each week we release a new self-care reminder and when we launched the “What If It All Works Out?” reminder, our community immediately responded in a significant way and it was obvious that they deeply resonated with this hopeful message. This self-care reminder went viral in 2020-2021 and based on the reminders our community tends to purchase, it has been evident that so many of us have been needing more ‘hopefulness and support with reframing our anxious thoughts, post this lingering pandemic. From seeing how our community responded to this piece of art, we really believe that there is a large majority that is really needing this message more than ever.
7.) In what way has launching the brand changed or impacted the way you see mental health?
Launching Self-Care Is For Everyone has shown us that showing up every day and leading with kindness is a life-saving practice. We meet, firsthand, the people who may not receive kindness daily, or maybe they haven’t yet cultivated a kind voice internally, and we see how this impacts their mental health. We get messages every day from Individuals who follow us or purchase from us and they will write to us to share how our messages have saved their life or have been ‘exactly what they needed’. And while we knew these messages were needed in this world, we never really imagined the level of impact they could possibly have on folks.
We are constantly helping our community fight any previous negative beliefs they have about themselves. We really want our brand to be a place where our community can keep coming back, day after day to get positive messages and reinforcement to help retrain their brain and quiet their inner critic. We are trying to provide our community with tools so that they are then spreading kindness in their own communities.
We’ve never viewed ourselves as the experts of mental health or self-care. However, through this brand, we’ve had to push ourselves to really learn about how self-care and mental health impacts so many different types of individuals. Mental health impacts everyone differently and as the curators of this conversation it’s been really important for us to step outside of our own lived experiences to learn about how self-care can look for others.
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8.) What’s next for Self-Care Is For Everyone?
While we remain so proud of how far we’ve come, we are motivated to continue supporting the mental health and caregiving community in new and exciting ways that continue to empower and inspire hope from a heartfelt and genuine space. Our goal is to introduce accessible and thoughtful self-care-supporting products that meet everyone where they are at and become a part of their everyday life. It is important for us to grow beyond a digital community and support those who resonate with our reminders with offerings that help them unplug and take up more room in their community.
We are working hard to expand our physical product line & digital content offerings to make mental health topics even more accessible and welcoming. We are continuously bolstering our resources to be able to highlight relevant information and ideas that support community members who exhibit signs of distress and are reaching out for help. We want to help everyone begin their self-care journey beyond just seeing the reminders on social media. We want to be the stepping stone to help our community build on their daily practices and to find the types of self-care that feels like a good fit and serves them most.
We are also eager to explore creative content that introduces self-care ideas in playful ways and invites those who wouldn’t normally think about self-care or talk openly about their mental health to engage with this vital practice. At Self-Care Is For Everyone, we view our role in all of this akin to that of a “dinner party host” with the responsibility of creating an atmosphere where authentic connections and vulnerable conversations can occur. Our hope is to hear the needs of our guests and, in return, provide them with reminders and insights to help them feel safe and comfortable. Thus, we hope to provide everyone with access to the most compassionate and knowledgeable voices (other invited guests) within the fields of self-care and healing.
In the near future, we will be expanding our website resources beyond links to include an engaging “self-care space” where our community can access support in the form of video content, downloadable worksheets & coloring pages, audio meditations, and various types of content that we’ve created and collaborated on with many healers in the community. We are so excited to share this with our community knowing that it can serve as an additional resource that is available 24/7 and can serve as a companion to someone who may be feeling alone and considering self-harm and/or suicide.
9.) Where can we learn more about your company and your story?
We invite you to follow us on Instagram @selfcareisforeveryone for daily reminders that spread kindness, encourage self-care and inspire hope to keep going. Also, be sure to visit our website www.selfcareisforeveryone.com where you can learn more about our mission and browse all the products and resources that we offer, designed by over 40 independent artists from around the world. Every purchase on our site makes an impact as we donate 10% of our net profits each year to mental health and suicide prevention nonprofits such as the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, and the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.
10.) Why is self-care essential for GREATNESS?
When striving for greatness, it is essential that we pause along the journey of life to prioritize the caring of ourselves. Self-care is a personal safety net consisting of life-enhancing and joy-enhancing activities (like breathing, resting, going outdoors, and so many others) that allow us to achieve our highest potential and show up to every day as our best and healthiest selves. By taking care of ourselves in all the ways that make us feel our best internally, it allows us to show up to our responsibilities and communities and spread the most amount of good to those around us. Self-care is community care and a foundational quality of greatness that supports continued growth and healing toward a great life for everyone.
If we are not kind to ourselves, then our mental, physical, and emotional health can deteriorate leading to depression, burnout or even suicidal ideation. This is why we are so passionate about encouraging self-care. Self-care gives everyone the energy and renewed hope to keep moving forward and truly be great.
Pushing oneself to the limits is often talked about as a key to success and greatness, but this dominant narrative must account for sustainable growth that requires slowing down and resting over sprinting and a disconnection from self in order to feel worthy. At Self-Care Is For Everyone, we believe that everyone is inherently worthy and deserving of self-care. It is essential to remember that your worth is not measured by your productivity. Everyone benefits from checking in often and nourishing our minds and bodies with plenty of sleep, healthy foods, and a connection to nature and community.
Greatness is a lifelong journey; a marathon where one must pace themselves and really be present to enjoy each of the moments, not solely focused on a future outcome that is not within our control. Greatness is not a finish line one can attempt to reach while sacrificing themselves and those around them, but rather, a way of living and embracing each of the moments along life’s journey. Being present, leading with kindness and gratitude, and truly connecting with others are all nourishing experiences that infuse life with meaning and wisdom. Thus, the journey of life and striving for greatness is deeply connected to how we take care of ourselves.
We hope you gained value reading this wide-ranging conversation with Self-Care Is For Everyone. Remember that no matter where you’re at on your journey, or what your goals for your life are, you CAN help erase the stigma surrounding mental health.