Raising Mental Health Awareness Through Fashion
May 7, 2020
Jules Kaiser is a Fashion Merchandising major in LIM College's online BBA program. Studying remotely from her home near Pittsburgh, Jules works part-time and also devotes time to running her own business. Her clothing company, Be Brave, focuses on raising awareness around mental health issues while donating a percentage of proceeds to charity.
“I went to James Madison University and wasn’t doing fashion. I wasn’t sure if that was what I wanted to do at that point,” she says. “I was only there for one semester, and then came home and started working in retail, which was when I decided fashion was what I wanted to do.” She tried another online Fashion Merchandising program, but didn’t feel it had the focus she wanted. She said then realized, “LIM is definitely where I need to be.”
The concept for her social impact fashion company started before Jules enrolled with LIM. “I was walking around the JMU campus and saw someone who had a ‘life is good’ shirt, and I’m somebody who has struggled with mental health.” Jules didn’t like how cut-and-dry the slogan was, because when you’re struggling with your mental health, life isn’t always good.
“I wanted to come up with something a little more inspirational. Before college, I got a tattoo that says ‘Be Brave’ in my aunt’s handwriting. My aunt was diagnosed with cancer and we always said we had to be brave for each other. That’s what I ended up wanting the slogan of the company to be. I wanted it to be something that anybody struggling through anything—it didn’t have to be mental health—could turn to.”
After launching her website, Jules contacted a clothing supplier, designed her logo, and placed her first order. She started with hats, then expanded into other categories. Four dollars from each item is donated to charities selected by the customer. Realizing those struggling with mental illness are not the only ones who could benefit from “being brave,” Jules allows customers to select from the following charities:
- Autism Speaks
- Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation
- St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital
- Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
- The National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Be Brave products are also carried in small stores and hair salons around Pittsburgh.
Jules has already been able to apply lessons from her LIM coursework to her business. “One of my classes that was really helpful was Fabric for Fashion. I’m ordering everything through catalogs, so I’m not able to see or feel the product until I get it. Understanding what the fabric is, the content percentages of the material, and reading through the description is something I have to rely on.”
Jules has an eye on the future. She recently created a new logo and is getting ready to launch new products. She says, “I’ve been able to touch a few people from my story and my website and they’ve reached out to me, which is great. That’s the whole purpose of it. That makes me feel so good.”