Updated: Mar 11, 2021
Our FedEx grant was only allowed 1,000 characters. We poured our soul into writing this, so hacking it down to a paragraph was painful. We thought you would enjoy the opportunity to read the application in it's entirety.
When we examine the world around us, we see that there is still a large stigma toward mental health that causes barriers for people to live genuine, authentic lives. There is an incredible amount of information out there in regards to mental health and “self-care,” but the disparity is still transparent when we acknowledge how many people are still suffering without support (or worse, the wrong kind of support). This is where Villain Esteem, PLLC was born. Villain Esteem, PLLC sets out to demystify and destigmatize mental health. We aim to promote resilience and empowerment to individuals who may be struggling to cope with mental health concerns.
One of the ways that Villain Esteem differs from its competitors is by creating a platform that is more relatable to the weirdos of the world. The market for mental health and self-care is saturated with women-centric products that are focused on just one subset of women (i.e., women that like pink and bath bombs). The self-help reading market is similarly focused and only relatable to a subset of women. Knowing 1 in 4 people suffers from a diagnosable mental health disorder in any given year. Mental health doesn’t discriminate and doesn’t target only some women. We want to create something that is more relatable for those that don’t fall into the stereotypical demographic. We want to help individuals feel less isolated in their mental health concerns.
COVID-19 has ignited our desire to help people feel less isolated even more than they had before lockdowns across the country, including our state. While the concept of Villain Esteem was something we started discussing before COVID, the formation of it was solidified by the events that have rocked our world over the last year. We felt called to do something to attempt to reduce suffering for people. One of the ways that we are hoping to reduce suffering for people is by creating mental health subscription boxes. The prevalence rates of mental health concerns have exploded since COVID began. There are simply not enough providers to help the increased rates of mental health matters, causing a dual-pandemic. The mental health system has historically been vastly underfunded and that places difficult barriers for consumers to receive services they may need.
While our subscription boxes cannot substitute for counseling, they may be able to provide people with the resources and support they need. They may be enough to suffice in a world where they cannot access counseling due to location, waitlists, or other barriers. Our subscription boxes will contain several products that are geared toward different coping skills as well as resources developed by one of our founders, Michela Dalsing, who is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. While there are a couple of subscription boxes geared toward mental health, the products are hyper-focused toward females that really like baths and spa-like treatments for themselves. “Self-care” has been boiled down to baths that “relax” you and help you be more “mindful.” While all of that is true, it’s not the end of the possibilities for self-care. Most masculine people do not want to sit in a bath that smells like flowers and covers them in glitter. A good portion of those masculine people will at least try the “bath-relaxation thing” with a bath bomb that’s shaped like a grenade, which is a play on words but also makes baths socially acceptable. We will have diversified products that will allow for more than one demographic to find them beneficial. Our SubBoxes take down those psychological barriers and make mental health tangible by providing products that enforce the lessons we are trying to teach with the resources we provide. Many products are geared to enhance relationships in the subscriber’s life such as ‘Thank You’ cards, Each month will have new products and resources to continue keeping mental health tangible.
If we were to receive the FedEx Small Business Grant we would utilize those funds to cover some of the expenses associated with subscription boxes. Shortly before finding this grant opportunity, we had started pricing and designing shipping boxes with FedEx, as we weren’t treated well in our first order (and misprint) by a competitor. The print services allowance would ensure the best-printed resources, and best-quality shipping boxes were delivered to our subscribers from the start, rather than having to sacrifice quality to reach a larger amount of people.
We have begun to partner with other small business owners throughout our box development to help improve the utilization and growth of our fellow small businesses as a way to give forward and help small businesses get the much-needed exposure that is a struggle for the majority of entrepreneurs. We utilize products developed by small businesses whenever possible but have started to reach out to larger companies to provide less-specialized products like blue-light glasses and branded ice-packs.
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