We were lucky to catch up with Mallory Gothelf recently and have shared our conversation below.
Mallory, thanks for joining us, excited to have you contributing your stories and insights. Let’s kick things off with your mission – what is it and what’s the story behind why it’s your mission?
At the age of fifteen I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I didn’t want to live, and was eventually hospitalized when I began self harming and experiencing suicidal ideation. I watched as my family entered my hospital room at a psychiatric hospital, unsure exactly what to say or do. I wasn’t sure what to say or do either. A mental illness diagnosis doesn’t come with a guide for the person experiencing it or for the people around them. Everyone was timid at first, treading lightly with words and actions. But treading lightly didn’t allow for healing to take place.
Everyone in my life had to dig deeper for healing. We found healing in small, but bold, statements of love and support. I saw it in the letters and notes family and friends wrote for me while I was in the hospital. I saw it when my dad bought an UNO deck for us to use because he noticed it was the only time I took part in the world outside of myself. I saw it every evening when a “song of the day” from my brother found its way into my inbox. It always contained music he thought would lift my spirits. I saw it when a friend from college picked out the cereal part of some Lucky Charms, to leave a bag of marshmallows (the only good part) on my pillow when I came back to my dorm from treatment one night.
What I realized was these meaningful moments of engagement helped everyone connect when my illness tried to sever all connections. Small gestures opened the door for healing.
I drew inspiration from these moments in my recovery to create a mental health focused self-care box company, Find Your/self Boxes. My company serves as a way for people to show up for their loved ones through gestures of support, and let them know that they matter. It breaks down the barriers that come with talking about mental illness, and opens the door for meaningful conversations. In creating this company, I was able to make meaning out of my own struggle. I have given my pain purpose, and use my business to reach back and help others to not have to suffer in silence the way I had to. Every morning I feel lucky to be alive and grateful to be able to turn a dark period in my life into something immensely positive and impactful for people going through similar struggles. I think back on that first hospitalization often, and wish I could let that fifteen year old girl know that there is more to life than just pain. I would come out of that period with a whole new appreciation for life.
Mallory, love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations?
Find Your/self Boxes serves as an easy way for people to send love and care to those in their life who may be struggling or who need a little pick me up, by offering customizable and curated self-care boxes, filled with research backed wellness products that promote healing. Our goal is to make real self-care for real people. Self-care isn’t all green smoothies and lotus poses, it’s about finding the things that make a person feel well and helping them incorporate those things into their daily life. Our products run the gamut and we let you choose what products feel right for you in our customizable boxes, because self-care is a personal process, which is why it’s called SELF-care! However, if you’re really unsure of what you need, we provide options for curated boxes with products that touch on important areas of wellness. We stay away from outdated and harmful wellness tropes. We don’t subscribe to diet culture ideals and wellness trends that leave people feeling more stressed than cared for. We choose inventory that ignites all the senses. Our products are sourced from a diverse group of business owners who are determined to leave a positive impact on the world through the products they create. We work hard to keep our pricing accessible and make sure a portion of our revenue goes back into the mental health community, giving money to organizations like Therapy For Black Girls, The Trevor Project, National Queer & Trans Therapists of Color Network, and more. Utilizing my personal understanding of mental health in an intimate way, and coupling that with researched products from professionals in the field, our inventory line has been crafted with intention.
I’m most proud of the moments of care we have created for people. Our boxes have been used to celebrate people’s lives, mourn the loss of a loved one, and to support people in their darkest moments. They are to be whatever that person needs in that moment, meeting a person exactly where they are on their journey. My personal understanding of mental health from my own struggles, as well as watching loved ones struggle with their mental health, means this business is personal to me. It is what ignites my passion, gets me out of bed, and has me striving to make it better each and every day.
Have you ever had to pivot?
I think the very launch of my business was a pivot for me. I had been working on the concept for Find Your/self Boxes for about a year in the evenings and on weekends, while also working a full-time job. I had no intention to rush into business, but I knew that when this thing came to life it was going to be something special. About nine months into my tenure at my full-time job I was let go, as was three-fourths of the staff, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It felt like a slap in the face and an exceptionally scary moment in time because I wasn’t sure what the job market was going to look like in such an unprecedented time. I wasn’t sure how I would pay my rent or buy groceries. I let myself feel all my feelings that day and then a little thought popped into my head as the day came to a close. I had always said time was never plentiful enough to allow me to launch my business. All of the sudden I had all of this time on my hands and a very uncertain future. I decided it would be as good a time as ever to launch my business. Within a little over two weeks of being let go from my job, I launched Find Your/self Boxes. I launched a business with very little experience, very little know-how, and no funding in the middle of a global pandemic! What I did have was a deep passion for my business and a deep belief in my ability to figure things out as I went along. In my first day of business I sold out of all my inventory. Four months into business I was featured on GMA3 “What You Need To Know” as a person who pivoted because of the pandemic. I received 93 orders in an hour. I realized the need to talk about mental health openly, and to give people a space where they are encouraged to care of their mental health, is critical. I went for my business full-time and it has grown and become something beyond what I could have imagined since its launch. Sometimes, in order to pivot, you just need to dive into the deep end and be unafraid to swim in new waters.
What’s a lesson you had to unlearn and what’s the backstory?
Something I really had to spend time unlearning was the idea that I was unqualified to run my own business. I have a BS in psychology and felt that my credentials to run a mental health focused business were inadequate. That limiting belief really held me back in a lot of ways. The less I believed in myself and my ability to execute this business and make meaningful change, the less growth I saw in my business. I joined a business coaching group with other woman entrepreneurs that really opened my eyes. Their feedback and input helped me step into my role as a founder with confidence and strength. I spent, and still do spend, time reminding myself why I am uniquely qualified to run this business. I have learned to give myself grace when I make mistakes and I’ve allowed myself to make decisions based on my own gut instinct and knowledge. I have stopped second guessing myself and started putting myself and my mission on display. I know that the work I’m doing has value. I know that I am helping other people and bringing little pockets of joy into people’s lives. I refuse to be the one to hold myself back anymore.
- Website: https://findyourselfboxes.com/
- Instagram: @findyourselfboxes
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/find-your-self-boxes/
Lisa Czech Brian Pu Ruiz