Welcome back to the young+creatives podcast! In this week’s episode we sit down with Lauren Hackett, a 20 year old college student and the owner of Unfinished Apparel. This week’s episode may be sensitive to listeners, as we discuss topics of: depression, anxiety, eating disorders, suicide and the depiction of traumatic events for those who have been in psychiatric care units. If you or a loved one are struggling with thoughts of suicide, please don’t be afraid to ask for help.
In this episode of young+creatives we cover several key topics including:My struggles with mental health (10:27) It takes people to build community (15:42) How deep in are you willing to get? (19:21) Coming to the realization that I don’t know everything (24:29) Are you enjoying what you do? (27:27) Where do you find your creativity? (31:29) You have to be passionate about what you’re doing (39:58)
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On this episode of young creatives, we dive a bit deeper than we normally would. Before we dive into this episode, we would like to inform you of some sensitive topics that we cover in this podcast. This episode contains discussions of depression, anxiety, eating, disorders of suicide and the depiction of traumatic events for those who have been in psychiatric care units. If you are sensitive to these topics, please take a look at our show notes for further information. If you are a loved one or struggling with thoughts of suicide, please visit suicide prevention lifeline.org or call and text 1-800-273-8255 Please take care of yourself and if you need to, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help.
Welcome to the young creatives podcast brought to you by our vision Marketing Group. Young creative will serve as a platform to promote discuss and give advice on Millennial creatives coexisting in traditional jobs.
Okay, so welcome back to the young traders podcast. My name is Michaela Anderson, and today we have someone very special on the podcast. currently attending Belmont University. We have Warren Hackett. Lauren, would you like to? Would you like to introduce yourself? Sure.
I’m Lauren Hackett. I am originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, up in the Northeast, and I made the move to Nashville about three years ago to attend school at Beaumont University. Shout out to Belmont love them very much. But yeah, I started my business while I was in school, and I’m almost done. I’m graduating this coming May. So I’m really just trying to make it across the finish line.
Absolutely. I totally understand that feeling because I just graduated last May too. And to be honest, it’s like so weird not checking Canva canvas, or Blackboard or whatever you use. And like, getting used to not checking your school email, because that was something I was like, always looking at, like staying up.
Oh, yeah, I think I will still wake up for the next like three years from dreams of like I forgotten assignment or something. I don’t think it’s ever going to go away.
Well, Lauren, I want to get into it. Because I think your business out of all the ones that we’ve interviewed is very, very different. And I think it’s crazy, because it’s It benefits people in a different way. And so why don’t you kind of introduce your business what you do? How’d you get into it? All that?
Absolutely. I feel like it’s such a long story. But I so I started a company about a year ago, and I’m not even going to talk about the name yet because it did not start with that name. So about a year and a half ago, a friend of mine and I started a little thrift business because we were very bored and COVID and also just wanted some cash. So we just started recycling clothing and reselling it on Instagram grew like a 2000 person following we were just literally having fun. And then I ended up getting an embroidery machine and started embroidering on some of the thrifted clothing. And that was selling really, really well. We quickly learned that to find clothing that could be embroidered that was thrifted was very, very difficult. It was not easy. So we started wholesaling some clothing, and it was going really, really well. But it did come to the point where we were like, Okay, we are selling majority embroidered crewnecks and not really clothing anymore, which was a transition we were okay with. But it kind of came with the need for a rebranding because we were called like something threats. And it needed to be called something else way. And so this was probably about December of this past year. And we started to try and brainstorm ideas for this new business venture basically. And one of the things that was really important to me and her was mental health, and we were like there, we’re going to have a business, we’re going to make sure that it benefits people. Because if we’re not thrifting clothing that’s benefiting the environment. Like we want to make sure we’re helping people. And so I spent days on the source comm trying to make thrifted and mental health become a word together. It was a very chaotic process. I was on dictionary.com Like, does anything describe how I’m feeling about this? And one day I was sitting there and the word unfinished just kind of popped into my mind and it was one of those moments where I was like is that even a word unfinished. And I was like, No, it definitely is. But um, so it was at that point where I was like, Wait, like, that actually makes so much sense. Because if we’re going to make the transition from thrifted clothing, then a lot of thrifting is basically giving life to old clothing and reselling it for someone else to love. And in a different but similar way, the mental health journey is so much like an unfinished book, it is so much like an unfinished story. It is a very difficult topic to discuss. But a lot of people on that journey are welcome two points where they’re like, I, I don’t want to do this anymore. It’s it’s too difficult, my journey is getting too hard. And so that, that really hit home for me. And I was like, I want to make sure people know that their story is not finished, and that there’s so much more left to it. And so I started working on affirmations and phrases that can be put on crewneck. So that when people see and read these phrases, it reminds them that they have so much so much to live for, and that there’s so much hope and joy ahead of them. So that was kind of how the whole business started with unfinished, the girl I was working with, and I kind of went our separate ways business wise, just because school got absolutely crazy for the two of us. She is a wonderful person and amazing law student. But we kind of decided to go our separate ways business wise. But um, that is how the company came to be. And so I know it’s such a long story. Sorry, yeah. Yeah, look back and see the growth. It’s so I don’t I can appreciate it. I’m, like, very proud of it. And it is a reminder of how much we can grow within a single year, that that all can happen. And then the past few months, was more down the route of what are we doing specifically for the mental health community? Because yes, we knew we wanted to benefit them. And I was very, very passionate about it. But I was very cautious of just a monetary donation because I am a person who really loves to see where my money is going to go to if I’m going to donate it. I like it nervous. I’m like, well, who’s it actually going to? Is it going to help people in psychiatric centers or people struggling with mental health. So I wanted to find a way where I could see it a tangible product, something that could really help person. So I ended up coming up with the idea to send crewnecks to psychiatric patients. And I had no idea the issue that was within psychiatric centers, that people do not have comfortable clothing. While they’re there. It is a really, really big problem. And while a lot of centers do have options, there are many that are underfunded or just don’t have the resources and capabilities to provide comfortable clothing which means a lot of people are left wearing things like paper scrubs, which are very, very uncomfortable, or just clothing that makes them feel itemized or out of place. So I ended up starting this program to be able to send Kleenex to psychiatric patients specifically at the Horsham clinic which is a fantastic inpatient center up in Pennsylvania and ever since then, I’ve been taking donations from all the products sold and putting them towards making them for next.
I love it. Honestly like here on it hearing that story how do you not just like wanna throw your money I like you. Because that is so what I am just like take my money please because it hits so hard home for me and like even family or not or within myself like I’ve seen firsthand the struggles that people have well in psychiatric care unit and my cell being in there at one time just knowing that like okay, I’m going here, not willingly and then having basically I know on our pre interview call we talked about this a little bit but stripped everything off of our bodies like they took necklaces, they took brains, they took earrings they took everything close like you are nothing besides just yourself and giving you something like these scrubs that have been in the care unit for years and they don’t even fit you right or they don’t make you feel good and it’s just like a whole part of your being because like you never really realized like how much you are of yourself. You have within like your clothing style, your the way you wear your hair the way you talk and like yeah, anyways, I am absolutely loving what you’re doing. And as far as like your mental health journey, if you’re willing to share it like, how has that? How has that came up to producing unfinished apparel? Like how do you believe like your journey has brought to you in a place where you were like, yes, I want to advocate for this cause.
Yeah, um, I am definitely open to sharing about it. So I started having my first I guess, struggle with mental health. When I was in probably seventh grade, I had my first panic attack. And I remember really not understanding what it was at the time. And I periodically had them for a few years, but never really did anything about it, I just, you know, was told I had some anxiety about test taking or school in general. But as I progressed through high school, I definitely realized I had some mental health struggles of my own, I went through a really, really rough series of anxiety and depression, specifically anxiety. And from that led to an eating disorder that I had to work through for a while. And it was very, very difficult, especially because I went to a very small private school. And it was not a place where I felt comfortable talking to people about it, because I felt like if I told one person everyone was going to know, and I had known people who had talked about their mental health, and it worked out terribly for them, like all the faculty knew about it. And I was like, I was terrified. I was like, I can’t talk about my own mental struggles. Because if I do that, I’m going to get judged for it. And it’s not, it’s not going to benefit you at all. And it was probably my junior year that I would say it was like, one of the hardest years I’ve gone through with mental health, I was just really in a bad place. And I was at a point where I did not see the end of the story. I was like, I don’t know how I’m going to continue on with life. If this is my life, like I can’t, I felt so ill and sick that whole year that I was like, like, I can’t live like this, like this isn’t this doesn’t make sense. It’s not sustainable. And that really started my journey on discovering my own, like mental needs and the ways that I needed to take care of myself, but also the impact that someone speaking about their mental health could make on the community. I gave a talk when I was a senior actually at one of our chapels, about my struggle. And I was in a place by then that I felt comfortable talking about it, but I was also a senior. So I was like, if any of you have anything horrible to say about me, I will be here to hear it. So I may as well tell you all. So I did. And I had a I don’t want to say disturbing but like scary number of people reach out to me and say that they had similar struggles. And I say that it was scary because that many people were silent about it at such a small school. And I was like this is a way bigger problem than anyone knows about. I was like, How is this happening in such a tight knit tiny community? And no one knows. And yes, I was part of the issue. But there were so many people. And it was in that moment that I was like, This is so much bigger than myself. It’s so much bigger than this school. It is a little literal epidemic of our generation of people are struggling so much. So that was really where my passion for mental health and the need for a strong supportive community began.
Absolutely. That’s incredible. Because I had a very similar experience in high school when I went to I wouldn’t say I went to a small school, but our graduating class was probably around 300 Kids, so I consider it small I guess. And with that, it was super hard because I was in a choir with one of my friends. And we grew up together throughout high school. And the year after I graduated, we learned that he fought through suicide. And it took everybody by shock. It was him seeing like it was just so hard because everyone saw him as the super happy person like nobody would have known until the day it happened because especially because he was male. And so it was super hard because not only is there a stigma in general but also even more so on the male side because females are seeing is more sensitive but then even more so on the male side or I can’t show my emotions I can’t like be seen as a sensitive person and so on. How have you felt like you’ve been able to have those conversations with everyone in like different types, like different races, different genders? All of that stuff? Like, where have you seen a good amount of success with that? Or has it been difficult?
Do you mean like talking to people about my own mental health and like creating that community,
right like that. And also just being able to show awareness to your brand and like what you’re doing and making people like understand like, this is a problem?
Yeah, I think I think what I have learned this past year is that I cannot do that alone, at all, the only way for a community to be built in a community to learn is from other people within a community. Like I can sit on my soapbox as much as I want. But there are so many people who are not going to identify with my story, who are not going to have struggled through the same things as I did. And so I really recognized the importance of having people ready to speak to other people. And so within like the comment sections, even on Tik Tok and Instagram, I will send I was like, write a prompt and be like, This is what I’m struggling with. You’re free to speak up here and talk about what you’re struggling with. And I have seen so so many situations of people saying, This is what’s going on in my life, this is what I’m struggling with. I don’t see a way out. And I didn’t have to respond, because other people stepped up and stepped in. And were like, Hey, I, this happened to me too. And I’ve worked through this and there is hope there is a better life ahead of you. Like you just have to get through it. Here were some resources that I used. And it was in those moments that I was like, this has nothing to do with me, I don’t even I don’t have to be here, I just facilitated this community being built, because people are not always going to learn from the same person. And we have to recognize that it sometimes takes a stranger on the internet to say, I’ve been through that too, for you to feel validated and understood and be able to see potential for growth and joy again.
Absolutely. That was very, very well said. Wow. Because I don’t know if you’ve ever had a struggle with this in the past. But I definitely have. And so I’m curious, because growing up, if somebody were to come with me, like, whether it be trauma, whether it be family problems, whatever it might be them seeing themselves as like mentally decreasing. do you how do you not? How do you not get attached to seeing so many people struggle and see so many people? How do you not attach yourself to saying, Okay, this is like, I need to do something about this? And how do you not burden that on your soul?
That is a really, really good question. Um, so about a few months ago, I would say maybe four or five months ago, I had someone messaged me on Instagram and our DMS at like two in the morning. And they said that they were contemplating suicide, and that they were planning to take their life. And I was just sitting there like in my bed reading this and I like could not believe I was first shock that a stranger told me that. And then I was like, What on earth do I do? And they were they lived outside the US. So I had no idea who to call, I ended up being on the phone call with the hotline of that country trying to find out what my options were to be able to set them up with care. Because I was genuinely out. It was out of my league, I had no idea what to do. I mean, no moment was gonna prepare me for that. So I ended up actually calling my own therapist, and I was like, I really don’t know what to do. And I’m not going to pretend like I do. I can talk all I want about mental health. I have no idea what I’m doing right now. And he was like, he asked me the question of how deep in Are you willing to get? Because that’s this situation might require you to get very, very personal, and you don’t know what’s gonna come out of it. So you need to know how deep you want to get in and I was like, it’s someone’s life. I’m going to do what I have to do. Just tell me what I need to do. And so over the course of probably six hours, I talked to this person and was trying to set them up with care and see if they could get connected with a hotline. So after about six hours of conversation, I did get them set up with the hotline in their country, which was really good and That was a very big wake up call to me of I need to make sure that I have a strategy for these situations and know how to handle them. Because mental health is such a difficult and sensitive topic. And when you are putting yourself on the forefront of it like, prepared, you have to be prepared for people to ask you really difficult questions for people to come to you with the situations. And I’ve honestly found that like, there is a lot of fulfillment for me and talking to people and to helping people. But there is a line that I know that I can’t, I can’t handle certain things. And I have to know when like my limits are reached and when to pass someone on to a professional. So I kind of see myself as more of a facilitator in that sense. Because I know my limits, and I know that I mentally can’t handle those things i that is not the gift that I was given. And I just know that I am there to help these people along on their journey, whether that’s plant a seed of hope, or help them to someone who is able to provide them good care.
That’s beautiful. Because I I actually just asked that question for my own. Because I’ve seen that so many instances in myself where I know that this person is struggling, and I take their problems, and I burden myself with it. And I don’t know where to draw the line because this person could be my boyfriend, my husband, my sister, my brother, anybody, like I don’t know, how much is too much. And yeah, the biggest thing is, the odd come to realize is that you can’t give somebody help if they’re not willing to help themselves yet. Yeah. And it’s so hard to hear that because you might have a spouse, a sister, whomever, going through a tough time, and you can see them struggling and hurts you. And you’re like, Okay, let me help you. But the thing is, is that you were in those shoes, and you can see the other side of it. They can’t see that yet. And so just reassuring them that like open their butt doing, not forcing them to do that. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah.
But it is very, very difficult to know, the right things to say and to know how deep you’re going to get in those situations. And I really do think it’s knowing your limits and knowing. Because I think if you don’t know your limits, you can often end up in situations where you’re not helping them. And they’re there’s just certain things that like we are not equipped. We are not trained professionals in all those situations. And so I think, knowing what you can handle and knowing what you are actually able to do and knowing what they are comfortable with you doing is really important before getting into those conversations.
Absolutely. Absolutely. And so getting also a little bit into it as well. So have you ever had an elder person come to you and say like, you’re having these conversations with younger people, but you don’t, quote unquote, know what you’re talking about? Because I have more life experience than you and how have you addressed that? In a way? I haven’t thankfully
not had someone say that to me. Because I personally don’t think I would take that well. But it is an absolutely possible thing that can happen. A lot of people are like you are 20 years old. You literally have no you don’t even have a science degree, you’re in marketing, what do you know about mental health? And why do you think you should be allowed to speak on it? And while I haven’t had people, I guess like question my authority to be able to speak on it. I have had people question my motives, and say, because I don’t know anything about mental health that like why do I think that I’m actually benefiting people? Like I don’t know anything about psychiatric centers, I don’t know what to provide people that I’m like, abusing the system. I’ve had people accuse me of those things. And I, I mean, often loss for words, I’m like, I can’t believe people think I’m that horrible person. But I definitely have to come to the realization that I just don’t know everything. And I think that’s what you have to do when you’re asking those questions. You have to be like, Okay, I know, I don’t know everything. And that’s okay. Do you want to educate me? Like, tell me what tell me what the problem is so that I can fix it. I remember we had one situation where I had a donation set up to go to the clinic, and I was folding all the clothing in the video and there was a hoodie in there. I got accused of sending harmful, potentially harmful things to a psychiatric center. And then I was putting people in danger because of the strings within the hoodies. And I had known about this. And so I took the strings out before I sent it. But all of a sudden, my entire comment section was filled with people thinking that I am helping people hurt themselves. And I was literally having a meltdown. I was like, Oh my gosh, one, I didn’t even do this. And to like, why do people think I did that? And at first, I responded with the most angry video on the planet, because I was just so mad. I was like, How could you say that about me, my character, my company, like I felt personally attacked. And I deleted the video in literally 30 seconds. I was I could not believe I put it up. But I then responded with a video that was like, I hear your concerns. This is what actually happened. I totally understand where you’re coming from, what other concerns do you have? Let me answer them or let me learn. And that video got great response. There were people who really just did not understand who I was or what the company was about that got their questions answered and actually supported the company after that. And so I think it was one of those situations where I really learned that sometimes you just have to admit that you don’t know everything and be appreciative of when people correct you or ask you difficult questions. Because it’s often in those moments you learn a lot about yourself and what your mission is.
Absolutely, absolutely. Because I know getting into my degree like i You have to accept with open hands, that I’m not going to know everything. As soon as I get my college diploma. That’s just a web problem. Everybody needs to realize before you graduate, I did not realize that until like a week into my job. I was like I know nothing about website. So why don’t you tell me like, are you? Are you really enjoying what you’re doing? Because I know you’re a full time student. I know you have your full time business, you have to make content, you have to keep up with orders, you have to correspond with these messages. Are you enjoying it?
I am I don’t enjoy every minute of it. I love what I do. Absolutely. I love and I do love every part of it. But there are some moments that I don’t want to be doing it. That is for sure. I think anyone that started a business will tell you there were moments when they were like I want nothing to do with this. But um, one of the things, or the thing I probably love most about being a business owner is that I get to wear all the little hats right now if I want to do marketing, I get to put on my marketing hat. If I want to do design, I get to put on my design hat. Even though I had no interest in design, or let’s, let’s say graphic design had no interest in that beforehand. No idea what I was doing content creation was still learning. But this has given me the opportunity to grow in all of those areas and also be able to experiment because I think I’m sure a lot of college students can relate to the fact that they don’t know what they’re doing, even though they are a junior senior. And they’re like, Well, I’m in marketing. But what if I want to go into this or that I don’t know what even sector of marketing I want to go into. So this has been a great opportunity for me to find out like what I genuinely love about marketing and business as a whole. But that has been a very enjoyable part of the business to me. But then the moments when I really don’t want to be owning my own business are often put to rest by the amazing emails that I get from people and the messages that I get from people that makes every single difficult moment absolutely worth it.
So I’m going to tell you guys a story about how I met Lauren. When I found Lauren on Tic Toc, and I followed her page, and then I brought me to her website. And I didn’t know about the psychiatric care unit until I got to the website. And so immediately, I saw Lauren had her phone number listed at the bottom of her website. I was literally laying in bed with my husband, and I was like, oh my god, I’m gonna call this girl. He was like, What are you doing? And I was like, I’m just gonna call this girl and see what happens. And it was like a ring and she answered I was let me tell you I would never been so scared in my life. Like, go to voicemail, go to voicemail, go to voicemail. because I was like thinking about my scripts, and I was thinking about like, all of these quote unquote, professional things I could say. But she answered, and it’s like all of that vanish. And I was like, Oh, hi. Oh my goodness, but she was so sweet. And she was so willing to just like, answer any questions or anything. And so not saying you should give her a spam phone calls all this. But she does appreciate when people reach out to her like so much.
That is for her. I mean, it literally means the most to me. I never used to pick up any call that didn’t have caller ID. And now I see it and get so excited. And when it’s like a auto dealership, I get upset, because I’m like, I thought you were person that was gonna call me and tell me something fun. But it’s an automated voicemail?
Ah, no, that’s awesome. And so going into how you were talking about like, the different hats you can wear with like your small business? How do you channel your creativity within those different fields? Whether it be like designing your website, or take talks or marketing your business? How do you? Where do you get that creativity? And have you found it hard to get new content ideas and all that jazz?
Oh, yeah, the creative process is a fun one. And it is also a chaotic one, depending on what you’re trying to be creative with. For me, specifically, I have absolutely no no interest, not interest, but absolutely no experience and website design. And I remember looking at the blank page on Wix with all the templates. And I was like, for me, I was like, I know, I have no money to hire someone to do this. But this is not for me. And so I am a I am kind of a Pinterest person, but not huge. But unfortunately, when you search website design and Pinterest, it’s not exactly helpful. Fenders is great for everything. But when you really need it. Where the website design, I think I really am for things that I didn’t really know a lot about, like even some graphic design, it was a lot of just researching successful companies that did it. I spent a lot of time doing that. Don’t steal a big companies ideas, but you can learn a lot from them the basics of design, just based on doing a little bit of stalking of famous companies and things like that, you can learn a lot about what makes a website functional, what makes a graphic good and visually pleasing. So I think there is so much that can be learned outside of the classroom, you do not need to have a college degree to do this. I think I started the company with very little college knowledge. And a lot of just doing my research spending the time at night when I was exhausted, looking at famous companies and their models, seeing why they were successful, all those types of things. But then for the things that I love, like design when it comes to the phrases and stuff like that, that creative process for me was very broad on by my history in the music business. I was in the music business for a few years. And I was i i live in Nashville, you kidding me had to have a little bit of music in there. So I was originally in the music industry before I moved into this but a lot of that creative process was for me listening to people, I love hearing people’s stories. It’s my it’s my favorite thing ever. I love when people just like sit down and just like word vomit all over me I’m like, This is awesome. And people give you so many little amazing truths and what they say if you just take the time to listen, especially to the people who just go on and on and yes 80% is what you’ve heard before maybe even 95% but that little percent but if you take the time to listen to it can absolutely change your life. And so a lot of the phrases that are on the crewnecks or that I post on social media are from things that people said to me in passing things that I overheard that I was like that is so good because when people are raw and just able to talk about who they are and their lives they will give you the most encouraging and the most helpful pieces of advice
oh my gosh so so cute. I’m sorry Christians in the room but I was just like but that is first of all, that’s a lot to admit as a person saying like I don’t take credit for all of this like this is not just me like yeah, I may be the one that like actually goes out makes it designs and every thing, but I don’t get all of the ideas from myself. And that’s okay.
No, that is I learned that when I was in the music business of you’ll have 10 people writing a song together. And as a you think it’s one person? No, it’s 10 people in a room? Because the truth is that the greatest a lot of the greatest songs are from all of these people talking, and just listening to things each other had to say. So it is absolutely not all me there are moments where I’m like, That was that was good. I thought it’s something good. But a lot of the time, it is wonderful people saying amazing things.
That is so sweet. Because it takes us Okay, first of all, it takes a lot to be like, yeah, like, the same all me. And sometimes I can’t swallow that. So I applaud you for that. Of course. So I know you talked about you being a marketing student. So do you plan on going into this full time after school? Or do you plan on doing goi