In this week’s blog post, we’re highlighting one of the amazing companies involved in our MENTAL WELLNESS BOX project.  With the theme of Mother’s Day in mind, we curated products from across North America, specifically reaching out to companies with a mental wellness/mental health component to their company.  

YOU ARE COLLECTIVE started as a way to create change and make a difference. The founders, Michael and Rebecca, had been living through their own separate mental health journeys and noticed an immense lack of support and understanding.  They became excited about making an impact and sharing their stories.  This passion project quickly demanded their full-time attention and they started to brainstorm ways they could work or donate or support people to get the help they needed.  To not feel hidden behind a stigma.  To talk about their mental health freely, no matter the state.        

Distinguishing YOU ARE COLLECTIVE as a social enterprise wasn’t even a question.  Michael and Rebecca knew they wanted to give back and they wanted to be able to give all the brain power and human hours they could.  They donate a minimum of 10% of each item purchased to their #1MillionCampaign, which distributes funds across many organizations to provide a variety of counselling and mental health services across Canada.  They partner with different organizations and non-profits to create collaborative events, collections and resources.  Not only does this help to grow the mental health community, but proceeds are also donated to their #1MillionCampaign.

We spoke to Rebecca and Michael about their vision and goals, their desire to be a part of this project and how they manage their mental health in our current COVID existence.


JENNIFER:  Hi, Rebecca and Michael.  Thanks so much for connecting with us today and answering some questions.  To get started, can you tell us more about YOU ARE COLLECTIVE and what your goals are regarding the mental wellness/mental health component to your company?

REBECCA:  Well first of all - thank you! YOU ARE COLLECTIVE is a mental health social enterprise based in the Okanagan, B.C., Canada. We create empowering apparel collections, partner with grassroots organizations to help fund mental health services, and most of all use our voices and experiences to keep the conversation going around mental health. My partner Michael and I began YOU ARE COLLECTIVE in 2018 after going through our own separate mental health journeys and personally experiencing the massive gaps in mental health when it comes to community, resources, support and information.

JENNIFER:  Can you both tell us more about what kind of impact or goals you have regarding the mental wellness/mental health component to YOU ARE COLLECTIVE?

MICHAEL:  Yes, of course.  After collaborating with FOUNDRY KELOWNA and CMHA Kelowna in our first year to bring awareness to mental health, we began to get exposed to the various services and supports far and wide, all needing help to serve the masses. We decided to get focused on our impact and created the #1MillionCampaign to fund 1,000,000 counselling sessions across Canada. Our goals remain partnering in a variety of ways with grassroots organizations to provide both traditional and non-traditional mental health services to ALL Canadians.

REBECCA:  We do this by donating a minimum of 10% of each item purchased from our collections, revenue from workshops and events, plus any additional donations to the #1MillionCampaign. To date we have donated more than $7,100 to mental health services, provided nearly 150 one-hour counselling sessions, and made more than 7,600 connections.

JENNIFER:  Seriously? I’m blown away. This is unbelievable! The direct impact you are having on mental health in Canada is inspiring.  What are the top projects or collaborations you have coming up that you’d like to share with us?

MICHAEL: Our #1MillionCampaign is one of our largest focuses.  Any collaboration we do, we make sure they in some way it contributes to our commitment of funding 1,000,000 counselling sessions across Canada. We are of course stoked about our collaboration with MARNIE & MICHAEL and the MENTAL WELLNESS BOX project, which is probably one of our largest orders and collaborations to date with the vast amount of rad businesses included!

REBECCA:  A few others include our partnership with MILES4SMILES CANADA.  We are working with Skylar MacDonald, from Alberta, to provide unique apparel and awareness during his cross-Canada run beginning June 1st.  Physical health and mental health are closely connected, and we haven't embarked on anything like this before, so we're really excited to share more about the importance of activity and getting your body moving regardless of where you're at on your journey.

MICHAEL:  We also recently launched our brand new 'Imperfect Harmony' Collection with SOUL SOUNDS MUSIC THERAPY to bring a local pilot project to Kelowna -  supporting music therapy for mental health.  It's so important for us to break down barriers in mental health and opening up awareness for maybe more alternative or non-traditional services is exactly what we aim to do along our #1MillionCampaign!   

REBECCA:  We've also had the opportunity to begin a series on a local streaming service, UNICORNS.LIVE called #1MillionCampaign: Breaking Down Barriers in Mental Health.  We sit down for candid conversations with mental health professionals and advocates to help keep the conversation going and answer those burning questions you may not get from a typical Google search.

MICHAEL:  Okay one last thing... We're in the works of our second annual ‘Pride Collection’ in support of ETCETERA YOUTH GROUP.  They are a space for 2SLGBTQIA+ youth and their allies to feel safe and supported along their journeys. Can't wait to share more details!

JENNIFER:  Okay... now I feel extremely inspired and blown away!  These are some amazing collaborations. I can’t wait to see the impact this has on your #1MillionCampaign!!!  What made you say YES to being a part of our MENTAL WELLNESS BOX project?

MICHAEL:  Was saying no an option??? One of the biggest things for us when we started YOU ARE COLLECTIVE was that community and collaboration would always win over competition. The more the merrier, so getting the opportunity to participate in a mental wellness project focusing on exactly that was a no brainer for us. We so greatly admire the efforts and initiatives blossoming and growing in the mental health community, so anyway we can support or participate - we will.

JENNIFER:  Well, I feel the exact same way. And I’m so glad we’ve made the connection. There will definitely more projects together in the future!  So, I wanted to end our chat with a check in on how you guys are doing with your mental health right now, in our COVID reality.  What are the tools or coping strategies that have helped you over this past year?

REBECCA:  Slow. Down. I remind myself of this probably every day. Going full steam all the time is impossible and inevitably ends in burn out.  This doesn’t get you further or help you grow. Give yourself the space and time to learn, grow, and let the abundance flow! Thoughts, feelings, and emotions have been on a rollercoaster more than ever - it is OKAY to have those feelings and it is OKAY to share them, or not.

MICHAEL:  Also, setting healthy boundaries around work, personal, relationships etc. has been so key. And most of all: leaning on supports, asking for help, or taking a rain check when we need it. Need a Mental Health day? Take it. Need a Mental Health week? Take it. We so admire getting emails or messages of having to reschedule when someone comes to us with honesty.  Take care of yourself. Everything else will get done.

JENNIFER:  Those are some great coping strategies - thank you both!  And thank you again for being a part of the MENTAL WELLNESS BOX project and for all the amazing work you are doing with mental health.  Good luck with everything you are working on and I can’t wait to see what YOU ARE COLLECTIVE is up to next!