These Founders Want to Make Mental Health A Part of Your Everyday

This Women’s History Month, we’re shining a spotlight on the women behind some of the biggest brands in the beauty and wellness industries. Today, we’re sitting down with Hatty, ReeJae, and Esther of The Indwell Guide to hear about how they’re working to make conversations around mental health a part of everyday life.

Everyone on the Standard Dose team has loved using The Indwell Guide, especially during the uncertainty (and, honestly, stress) of the pandemic. Could you share a little bit about what inspired you to create this?
Hatty: As a child of immigrants and an Asian American, I grew up having no idea how to care for my mental health because it was never taught or modeled for me in my home and community. Caring for my mental health was more often about crisis intervention than it was nurturing my well-being. There was so much stigma, financial limitations, external pressures, and limited access to culturally-affirming care. Throughout my work as a psychotherapist for 11 years, I knew I wanted to create some sort of resource to address the gap between self-help at home and being in a therapist's office one day. 

Then, one night during the early months of the pandemic, I couldn't sleep after many hours of restlessly moving around. I was carrying so many difficult stories from my clients, my community, and everything that was going on in the world. I had this urge to want to do something beyond my therapy practice, and the idea of The Indwell Guide came together. I wanted to create something beautiful, grounding, approachable, and practical that people could use to support their mental health. So I contacted two friends, a life coach/designer (ReeJae) and visual artist (Esther), and the rest was history! 

We envisioned this guide sitting on people's coffee tables, reminding everyone that mental health should be a part of the conversations in our everyday lives.

The three of you brought your unique backgrounds together in the guide: Hatty as a therapist, ReeJae as a life coach, and Esther as a visual artist. How did you merge these three perspectives? 
Hatty: As a therapist, my work often focuses on helping people gain greater self-awareness on how the past affects the present and to learn to live in the present in alignment with who we truly are. This is the portion I contributed to the guide. The life coaching piece has a heavy focus on the future, providing people with practical tools to sort through their ideas and dreams while identifying action plans. It made so much sense to integrate both the work of psychotherapy and life coaching to address all parts of our lives: past, present, and future. 

The visual art piece ties it all together. When ReeJae and I work with our clients, we often describe it as a journey. It made sense to us to incorporate many of the metaphors that we have used in our work with clients into the visual part of the guide. We felt so much alignment with Esther's intuitive work, so it was amazing to partner with her on this unique project that aimed to support people during the pandemic and beyond. 

What kind of conversations did you each have about mental health growing up? How have your perspectives changed with time?
We all had very similar experiences which made it so meaningful to work on The Indwell Guide together. We didn't really have any conversations about mental health growing up. We just learned how to care for, or rather neglect, our mental health by watching our family navigate their own struggles. We received the message that we should always hide our struggles and that family problems should be kept private. We learned that anger and sadness were bad feelings, and that it was important to perform a put-together version of ourselves in the world if we wanted to survive. Striving and hustling were a given, while rest was seen as laziness that would lead to failure. That's just the tip of the iceberg. 

Gosh, we've talked a lot about how our perspectives have changed drastically. We have come to learn that having conversations about our mental health is a part of nurturing our well-being. We don't have to wait until we reach a crisis to ask for help, but we can reach out for help anytime, whether it be from a therapist or a safe friend. We have also learned to embrace all of our emotions, especially the hard ones like sadness and anger, because they communicate important information to us about what we need. It has been a process of unlearning a lot of these old narratives and relearning how to care for ourselves with rest, mindful rituals, and new narratives that enliven us to live our lives with intention and meaning. 

Why 8 steps? 
We were actually inspired by the 10-Step Korean skincare routine. It's kind of funny now, but we both remember growing up slathering random things on our faces that our mothers gave us in whichever order we felt. We didn't know there was an optimal way of taking care of our skin and a reason why each step came before the next. Learning about the Korean skincare routine really helped demystify the process and it actually helped us take better care of our skin with greater understanding. We wanted people to have a resource like this when it came to mental healthcare. 

As we were reflecting on our clinical work and life coaching work with clients over the last decade, we realized there was an intuitive and clinical step-by-step process we often guided our clients through. We wanted to demystify this process by exploring 8 mental health practices that we noticed were consistently part of the journey to inner wellness, in the order that made most sense to us and many of the people we have journeyed with.

One of those key focuses is “exploring your past” and taking the time to understand how the past affects you and your experience of the world. Why is this such an important starting point in one’s mental health journey?
Hatty: For me, I think exploring our past helps us deepen our compassion for ourselves and the people who matter most to us. It's so easy to judge ourselves for why we are the way we are, instead of wondering which circumstances we've had to survive that have required us to navigate the world the way we do. Doing this deep dive into our histories helps us learn why we experience familiar emotional and behavioral patterns, and paves a way forward to break cycles that we find ourselves in. I think this process of experiencing self-compassion also helps us experience greater compassion for other people as well. 

What impact do you hope Indwell will have?
We have a huge mission through Indwell. We not only hope to bridge the gap between self-help at home and therapy in an approachable, visually-engaging, and creative way, but to also create a sustainable business that contributes to funds that will help BIPOC communities access high-quality mental health support. We hope to use our brand to create more products that encourage mindful living and inner well-being, making inner wellness more approachable and desirable. 

Running a business can be a LOT of hard work, especially on top of managing other parts of our careers and the relationships that give our lives meaning. Could you share what that journey has looked like for you, and how you’ve cared for your own mental health throughout the process? 
We feel so seen. Running a business is a lot of work. The journey has involved a lot of late nights, hours of contemplating about why we are doing this and what matters most to us, and constant pivoting. If we’re honest, caring for our mental health has been difficult at times. What's kept us grounded is meeting on a weekly basis to share how we are doing and making sure to rest. Scheduling time to maintain mindful rituals, nurture our relationships, and savor joy has been essential.

How would you like to see the conversation around mental health shift? 
We would love to see mental health conversations become a part of everyday life, infused in the education system, family gatherings, and industries that you normally would not hear about mental health from. How amazing would it be if mental health was talked about in homes, communities, and businesses, and prioritized over status, image, achievement, or financial gain? I hope that our book and brand can contribute to the change that is needed in our world so that our relationships and communities become a safer place where we can be fully seen, open, and vulnerable.