The MND Tee & Me
I hope this finds you well despite being in our lockdown number 3! What a start to 2021 hey, at least we are in it together.
To align with the launch of my new website I thought it might be helpful to jot down a few words about why and how I run this little clothing brand. I get lots of questions on social media about how I manage this and to be totally honest, there is no method to my madness - I am just winging it and learning more and more every step of the way.
I began fundraising for The MNDA back in 2012 after my dad was diagnosed with the disease. I'm sure some of you reading this will share my thoughts in that fundraising can feel like the only way to possibly fight back against something so cruel and debilitating which has no cure.
After losing dad I took some time to grieve, I mean, who knows how to actually do that, right? I quit my job, moved to beautiful Bath with my best friend and got a job in a furniture store. I just needed a change. A change from my home which had been turned upside down to use as more of a hospital space, a change from my work which just reminded me of dad (family biz!) and just a change in life all together really. I couldn't bear to move too far away from my mum so Bath seemed like an easy, comfortable choice and having my best friend Em to live with was like a security blanket. I don't talk too much about my grieving years - if I am honest I don't remember them massively, it's like a big, prosecco filled BLUR. In my head I thought I was fine but looking back I was hugely struggling. I was also attempting to fit in with a new group of friends and feel fulfilled being a sales assistant coming from a marketing role at an FMCG co. It was a tricky old time for sure - and the grief came in waves, not helped by too many nights out, a new and fairly unreciprocated love and a heap of anxiety medication. Lets just say it was a rollercoaster few years but after 7 years of living here I feel I have slipped into a really lovely space of friends that feel like family, a lovely home and I have finally found my purpose.
I have always loved planning events and for years that was my fundraising style - but I got a little tired of constantly having to beg and borrow for raffle/auction prizes, always asking people for money and not offering something in return. I also really felt that I wasn't getting anywhere with the awareness side which is drastically important with MND. I spent a lot of time when dad was poorly explaining what MND was and it was painful every single time. I want it to be spoken about more, and made easier for patients and their families.
After QUITE a few nudges from the universe (yep) I couldn't stop thinking about how to do something a little different. Now I KNOW that charity tees are no new thang, but in my experience they usually end up just being worn on a run, or perhaps thrown in the PJ drawer. I thought I could try and create something that people would want to wear whether they really had an experience of MND or not. Something that people would want to wear all the time, therefore raising awareness and something I could use across different products. My logo came super easily for me as the thumbs up sign is something that will ALWAYS remind me of dad, I have written a little info on this on our about page but essentially, after losing all use of his limbs, dad would still put his thumb up - right up until the last day at the hospice. It was always a sign of hope and connection for us.
All these thoughts took a few months to work out in my head, I was running a start up juice business at the time too and a cafe (another wild idea!) so it was a little bit on the back burner but September 2019 came around and HELLO THE MND TEE! I found a super cool (and local) printing company (big up Memory Screen) and was lucky enough to have the wonderful support of someone close to me who is a total whizz with the techy stuff and we created a website and I got selling tees! I honestly thought I would sell a few to family and friends but bloody hell, here we are just over a year later and I have sold nearly 2000 items which are hopefully, creating awareness wherever they go.
I do absolutely believe this is what I should be doing now, and after closing my juice business I decided to give this all of my efforts. Last year I was fortunate enough to be in the position to buy a flat in Bath that I currently airbnb. This has given me the time and financial backing to run the MND Tee as a start up non-profit alongside the changeovers! So that's me for now and before I finally leave you all be I wanted to share a little about my plans for the year.
After finally registering as an actual business I want to start thinking a little more business minded with this project - I really want to reach more people who will find the products comforting and people who want to join me in this fight against MND. This year I want to learn more about how a clothing brand works so I can grow, continue to bring in new, sustainable products and hopefully organise some events. I work from home but you bet I am manifesting some kind of space to work from. I can't tell you how tricky it can be trying to run this from home, boxes EVERYWHERE is stressful! Another thing I want to do is find a courier for my orders, I think the poor staff in the post office dread seeing my face come in with all those parcels! I have only ever sold through social media so hopefully this year I can start releasing some ads and perhaps increase sales that way! So lots of small things to adjust this year, and a very big mission at the heart of it all.
Please bear with me on this guys, I had a few cross comments last year when peoples orders were delayed or I missed an email - this is still new for me and as I say, I am still learning. It's a big feat on your own and if you know me I get easily overwhelmed which doesn't help! I will always do my best and always try to reply where I can.
Finally, I cannot actually ever express my gratitude to you lot for making this happen. To everyone that has liked, commented, shared and purchased - it means the world and we WILL make a difference. As always, my profits from this go to The Motor Neurone Disease Association. Stock will be live next week on here!
Thank you for staying with me, sorry I said it was just 'a few words'.