FREDERICTON – By age 40, approximately 50 percent of the Canadian population will have or have had a mental illness. For something so common, mental illness is still stigmatized, and people often feel ashamed talking about it.
One St. Thomas University student wants to break that stigma – through clothing.
“I kind of decided … I’ll just launch my own clothing line, mental health-related, to [help] end the stigma,” said the owner of the Positive Project, Patrice Cammarano.
“And from there, I’ll take a portion of the profits and donate it to mental health charities, and then it would be more of a social enterprise.”
Cammarano is co-founder and co-president of the Mental Health Society at St. Thomas University and he’s a network representative for jack.org where he represents New Brunswick.
Jack.org is a movement of young people trying to revolutionize mental health.
He said with his recent interest in de-stigmatizing mental health and his dream of starting a clothing company, the Positive Project was born.
The Positive Project is only on Instagram right now, but after the next few drops, Cammarano plans to look into a website depending on the reception of the brand.
He hasn’t released the first drop of clothing yet, but he put out polls on his personal Instagram to see what people would be interested in.
“There will be multiple drops and the first one should be in a couple of weeks. It’s already in the manufacturing process and once that one hits, we’ll gauge how the market goes and everything,” Cammarano said.
“Once that one hits, I’ll I already have a couple more on the line.”
Cammarano can’t release what will be included in the first drop yet, but he said all the clothing will be mental health-related with a fashion twist.
“It could be just like a mental illness on a shirt or something and a line crossing it out. And the idea behind it would be that your mental illness doesn’t define you,” he said.
Cammarano said building a business from the ground up takes a lot of work and requires plenty of decision-making. He was debating whether to get a website right away, what products to feature, how spaced out the drops will be.
Right now, he’s just working on a few products to get the business going, but he’d like to have a steady business with a full range of products in the future.
“Throughout the process, you’ll learn so much, and it’s really valuable,” Cammarano said.
“And in the end, no matter what happens to the actual project, I will always have that under my belt.”