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Using creativity, community and clothing to seek optimal wellness

For one fashion label founder, clothing designs have become a way to not only navigate his own health and wellbeing journey but also give back to the world around him.

Speaking recently on The Wellness Daily Show, Lonely Kids Club founder Warwick Levy (pictured) explained that his independent, ethical clothing brand was spawned from social anxiety he suffered in early years coupled with his affinity for “strange T-shirts”.

This writer owns one such T-shirt designed by Mr Levy, with an image of a watering can pouring into a person’s head, emblazoned with the caption “SELF CARE”. For him, actively promoting the importance of managing one’s wellness informs the direction his business goes in.

“I started off doing it very organically because one of my main artists I work with, Grace Stewart in Melbourne, and I were just sending ideas and drawings back and forth. She commented that she wasn’t really feeling that great at that time. We started sending this banner back and forth, and then we thought itd be cool to make into a patch,” he recounted.

“Then we made it into a series of patches, and then it really got picked up a lot. People started really talking about the mental health to us quite a bit. We realized this is something were making a difference with.”

The pair then started getting involved in some mental health charity work, he continued, and “it just sort of kept expanding form there, and I realised this is something really positive I can do with my life”.

“It means a lot to me as well. Im very open about my own personal health issues, especially mentally. I sort of feel like it makes me feel really positive about what Im doing. If Im kind of going through something, I can sort of share with people how I get out of it and other people can engage with that. If I can get one person sort of looking out for themselves and feeling more positive about themselves, I feel like I did something right.”

When asked if having such creative outlets is important for his own self-expression of thoughts and feelings, he said he feels a need to be “constantly creating new outlets” for his designs.

“Im always drawing, and I never stop. Then I’ll just post it up on social media with no commercial purpose. Then if that gets picked up and people are like, ‘Oh my God. I really want to wear this’. Then Ill make it into a product. Yeah, it can be kind of an interesting feeling to put my messaging into it,” Mr Levy said.

“Its so personal, so one sort of downside is if something I create sells well, I’ll feel good. If it doesnt, then Ill feel really bad. Thats something Im trying really hard to work on moving away from. I guess thats the one downside to being so intertwined into the brand and with my own sort of mental health intertwined into it as well.”

He feels – somewhat self-critically – that he manages his own mental health “poorly” but is conscious of spending less time looking at finished products and more time simply enjoying the creative journey he goes on.

“Im sort of honing my skills and then sharing that work with people. I think Im focusing more on just being able to connect with people. A lot of the time, people message us these really long messages being like, ‘I was in a really bad place and then I found your brand. All your messages were just so in line with what I needed to hear. I feel so much better’.”

“Then part of me will just take a step back and say, ‘Thats probably more important than just being a brand that makes a lot of sales’. Because when youre an ethical clothing brand, you dont have the same markups. When youre a slow fashion brand, you dont just buy pre-made goods from catalogs, which you can then rake so much money from. You do small batch stuff thats high quality with low margin,” he said.

“So, I dont really do it to be this huge clothing brand. I do it because I want to make a difference in the world in a positive way. It makes me feel really good as a result.”

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To listen to Jerome’s full conversation with Warwick Levy, click below:

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“Kindness is the language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” – Mark Twain