Gemma Styles is a writer and influencer who constantly uses the large platform she has to advocate for and to help others in any way she can. She has recently launched a new mental health campaign Find the Light, in partnership with Kenmark Eyewear and MQ Mental Health Research.
MQ Mental Health research wants to “ create a world where mental illnesses are understood, effectively treated and one day made preventable.”The campaign aims to help people open up and start having conversations about mental health. According to a recent study, 43.6 million US adults suffer from mental illness, while suicide is the largest killer of young people in the UK.
We had a chat with Gemma about the Find The Light campaign and her second collection of sunglasses with Kenmark Eyewear which has recently just been restocked and is available exclusively on the Baxter & Bonny website.
Hi Gemma, thanks for speaking to us. What was it about the “Don’t Stop” frames that inspired you to make those the ones that the proceeds went to MQ Mental Health Research?
Hi, thanks for having me! I had the idea for the Find The Light detail and thought it fit really well on that particular shape. When I made that decision I hadn’t named the new collection yet, so when I got to that part of the process I also wanted to make sure that the frame name worked in harmony with the mental health perspective. I thought Don’t Stop worked really well, just another reminder to keep going.
The Find the Light campaign is an important campaign, especially given the current times we are living in, do you think we are struggling more at the minute to be more open about our mental health and find that little thing in every day that gives us happiness?
I don’t know that we are struggling more to be open at the moment, but I think a lot more people are experiencing issues with their mental health, maybe for the first time. I think people are being fairly open this year, going through the pandemic collectively has given us a shared experience that can make it easy to say, ‘hey – this thing we’re all dealing with, I’m finding it hard’ – but there are more people struggling who aren’t talking about it openly, we still need to be opening new lines of communication and support all the time.
Find The Light is all about people sharing what it means to them, for you, it’s finding happiness in the small things you do every day, with how our lives have changed this year, has what makes you happy on day to day basis changed?
It’s been an opportunity to reexamine where I can find those things. I actually work from home the majority of the time anyway so I know I’m lucky that my lockdown routine has been less of an upheaval from my normal life. Even just getting up in the morning and enjoying the routine of putting the kettle on has become a weird, dull comfort to me. It’s also been really nice for me having my boyfriend at home all year and be able to do small things like have lunch together, that’s been my biggest change day to day.
What do you hope people take away from the Find The Light campaign?
I hope it gives people an opportunity to speak openly about their mental health and share not only how they feel when things are bad, but also share things that make them feel better. If encouraging these conversations helps one person open up or discover a new perspective that helps them, that would make me so happy.
Do you think social media has made people more open to discussing their mental health?
For some people, sure. Social media has changed over the past couple of years and the current ‘trend’ for lack of a better word is authenticity. People don’t always want to see an overly polished, unrealistic version of people, and that hunger for reality has created a lot more space for people to discuss things that aren’t so glossy.
Do you have any tips for anyone who struggles to look for happiness in the smaller things they do daily and focuses more on the bigger tasks they have to achieve?
It’s hard to do! Definitely takes practice. I’d say the main thing is don’t beat yourself up about it, if you’re being mindful of trying to notice small things you enjoy then it’s a habit that will form over time. Just remember that even when you have big things you have to do, you’re not going to get them done if you don’t take care of yourself first and burn out. Go and watch the film About Time, I love that as a reminder of the little things in life. Great film.
If you could dispel one myth or misconception that surrounds people talking about mental health more openly, what would it be?
I think I’d most like to get rid of the idea that anyone who talks about mental health is doing it for attention. When you’ve been in a di?cult place with your mental health it can be incredibly lonely, and I think people who’ve been that sad or distressed mainly just want to try and take away that loneliness for other people, by letting them know they’ve been there too. If you don’t relate to someone who’s talking about it, just know you’re fortunate and give them space to talk to the people that do relate.
You’ve written about mental health before, have you ever considered writing your own book about your own experiences as a way to help and empower others to speak up about their own mental health?
I don’t know about writing a whole book on mental health – I’m not sure if I have enough answers for you! I’m certainly not an expert, I’m just one person who’s struggled with my mental health, and still do to be honest. I feel very fortunate to have the platform to be able to share my feelings and get messages from people all the time who feel more comfortable expressing their own di?culties because of that, so, as long as it’s helping people I’ll keep writing about it.
How do you think we can encourage ourselves and each other to talk more and not keep it all inside?
We have to learn to speak more kindly to ourselves. Learn to listen to your own thoughts and then imagine a friend saying them to you – you’d certainly be kind to your friend if it was coming from them, right? Give people the chance to be there for you. Your friends will want to support you, but remember if they’re not too good at having emotional conversations or they don’t have the capacity to be your support system right now, there are always other people to talk to. Lean on another friend, a family member, a counsellor – or use one of the amazing phone or text lines available for you to talk. There are so many people who want to support you if you reach out.
This is your second sunglasses collection with Kenmark, where did you draw the inspiration from for the frames and was it harder to come up with designs this time?
A mixture of places! The Young Ones specifically were inspired by a picture of my grandma in the 70s, but others were as simple as me thinking, what sunglasses would I want to wear right now? What goes with the clothes I like to wear? I feel like inspiration seeps in from everywhere whether that’s Instagram, old pictures or just people on the street – I find it hard to narrow down!
What’s the process like for designing them, how long did take from conceptualization to them being on sale?
This collection I started working on in late 2019, so it does take a good while for them to come out, it’s a long process of making sure they’re as good as they can be. This year was also a little delayed due to the e?ects of the pandemic on factories closing for a while, the team worked really hard to get them out when we did.
What we love about this collection is there is something for everyone from oversized frames to smaller ones you can wear day to day and they go with literally any outfit, was that your intention when designing them?
Ah thank you, I’m glad you think so! It was definitely a consideration, I wanted to make sure that the frames were in colours and shapes that would have a long life, transition through di?erent seasons and work with plenty of outfits. All to make sure that they have a long, sustainable life, as well as being good value for the customer.
You can take part the Find The Light campaign in two ways:
You can share what it means to you by using the # in either a video, photo or caption on social media. Three winners will be chosen to win the special edition of Don’t Stop sunglasses in Caramel from Gemma’s latest collection. Or you can support the campaign by purchasing a pair of the special edition Don’t Stop Frames in Caramel, as 10% of proceeds from the sale of them will be donated to MQ Mental Health Research. Winners will be announced on 16 November.
As well as her sunglasses range being restocked and launching the Find The Light campaign, Gemma has also announced she is doing a brand new Podcast, Good Influence.where she will introduce readers to a guest every episode who will help both listeners and Gemma become more aware of things we should pay more attention. Listeners can also send in questions. You can found out more information about the podcast here.
Let us know what Find the Light means to you, on @CelebMix!