Here’s a question for you: would you prefer me to never, ever speak again about the fact that I once lost my marbles so significantly that I made my psychiatric counsellor look lost? Look, I know it’s an odd question not least because you’re probably here to buy a funky tote or a Christmas gift set . It’s just that over on my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/krakenkreations I’ve been baring all about having the occasional sob in my sewing shed and for many people this really ain’t the place to do it. I mean, this is a shop, not a psych unit (and I should know. I’ve seen one). So what do you think? Am I committing professional rather than personal suicide by telling my customers all about my depression?
Here’s the thing. Last week, after a couple of years of feeling largely strong in the frontal lobes, my brain started to buffer again. I suddenly and for no reason began to feel low. My mojo felt like roadkill, I had a sudden lack of interest in buttons (I know! Me!) and, out of nowhere, my life felt utterly over. And because I am such an open book over there on my Facebook page I told everyone about it. Instead of prattling on as if I’m living the dream, something lots of crafters do, I simply spilled my guts and admitted that yes, for a few days there I felt like shit. It was less Mollie Makes are more Madness Monthly.
The fact is that when I do talk about mental health issues on my page it sparks a madly vibrant and honest conversation. Invariably lots of customers admit to suffering similar issues (it’s clearly a sign of style and taste) and people I’ve never met talk openly about some of the most horrifying moments of their lives. In short, by breaking cover and talking about my own fight with depression and suicide I seem to make it OK for my customers to do the same thing. Does that bother you, though? And does it make you worry about me one day topping myself before I finish your order?
I can see how this may not do me any good in the tote-selling department and yeah I can see that this isn’t the best way to show people that I can make any fabric commission they throw at me. Yet when I set up Kraken Kreations I wanted it to reflect me. I didn’t want a shop front so impersonal that customers could have been dealing with a faceless corporation. My products are a direct reflection of what I love to buy and the colours and designs are the very colours and designs I love to see. That’s why I find it so hard to hide who I really am when I blather on at you across cyberspace. Anything else would be like showing you my face while wearing a snorkel.
I also realise that this may not be the image that lots of business strive to create. In fact it’s almost an active move in the opposite direction. But why shouldn’t it also be a valuable way of communicating with my customers? From the moment I released Kraken Kreations into the wild I wanted it to have my personality and that’s a personality that includes occasional and increasingly rare mental health issues. And if I have customers who have experienced the same things, isn’t recognising that the right thing to do?
Take last week. I had a message about an update I wrote where I referred to my mental state as a ‘bastard’. I promptly got a message from a woman saying: “Officially unliked! Unbelievable unprofessional language!” Unprofessional? Really? Well I’ll admit that it makes me different and I’ll admit that it’s an approach never used on Dragons’ Den but will I admit that it’s unprofessional? Over my festering carcass. I may swear now n then and I may talk about the dark corners of my mind but I’m professional to the point of obsessing over even a vaguely wonky seam, as my products will attest.
And, luckily, rather than upset me, this message just made me want to kick kittens. Why shouldn’t we all be open about our mental states? Over and again we say that we want to deal with ‘real’ people when it comes to spending our hard-earned money yet when faced with ‘real’ people some customers will back away while internally screaming and clawing at their own faces.
So if you love my products you’re sometimes going to have to love my mind as well. I won’t give you daily angsty updates about my state of brain. God knows, I’d rather prattle on about bias binding. In fact, 99 per cent of the time I’m mentally strong enough to rock along in the usual kraken-like manner. But during the one per cent of the time when I’m wobbling more than rocking I’m going to tell you all about it. If you want to buy from a ‘real’ person I’m about as real as it gets. Now, come lay in my sewing shed and tell me all about it…