You’re a sneaker influencer and a mental health advocate, can you tell us more and give us a brief intro into the person behind the insta feed?
For sure! Actually (and I guess most people don’t realise this by looking at my IG) I’m a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Psychotherapist. I have my own private practice called MENTL.SESH (@MENTL.SESH) where I work as a therapist with professional athletes and creatives (from influencers, fashion industry leaders, designers, and beyond). First and foremost I’m a mental health professional, and I use my IG platform to share my love of style and sneakers, as well as share my expertise on mental health awareness. I’m also an advocate for mental health as I’ve struggled with anxiety for a majority of my life, but not all advocates are mental health professionals. My goal is to show that not all therapists are the same and that it’s okay to show up authentically as yourself. Therapists often empower clients to be the best versions of their authentic selves and show up as such, so it would be hypocritical for me to not share who I am as a human outside of being a therapist, which is what most people see on my personal IG. I share more mental health information on my private practice’s IG, @mentl.sesh
Tell us about some of your brand collaborations. What is your main aim by bringing together mental health and sneakers?
I think my main aim is to make the conversations around mental health more digestible and down to earth, as well as showing the importance of incorporating a licensed mental health professional in any mental health related project (especially on the brand side). Our mission at MENTL.SESH is “meeting people where they are at” and I take that very literally. I want to show that we can be creative and think outside the box when it comes to mental health. I’ve done product collaborations with The Hundreds, Staple, UNKNWN, Champs Sports/Greenhouse, and more. We’ve also done activations and recently collaborated with Moleskine on a booth at ComplexCon last year focused on journaling. But, what I’m most proud of is the work you don’t see externally. Over the last several years, MENTL.SESH has been training brands internally on how to create mentally healthier workplace environments as well as consulting behind the scenes on mental health related initiatives/products - because the work needs to really start from within!
In particular, tell us about your collab with UNKNWN and how that ‘connects dots between sneakers and mental health’ ?
UNKNWN's catchphrase is “The Sport of Fashion”, combining the roots of the brand and one of their founders being LeBron James and the ability to express yourself through style. This collection was an apparel collection and we dubbed it “The Sport of Self Care,” highlighting the importance of mental health amongst athletes, sharing resources to help one prioritise their mental health, and donating a percentage of proceeds back to The JED Foundation.
If you had to pinpoint some key moments, what do you reckon kickstarted your career?
I would say my biggest moment is graduating with my Master’s in Social Work as well as passing my LMSW licensing exam and obtaining 3000 clinical hours and 100 supervisory hours to take and pass my LCSW licensing examination. That’s what people don’t see on IG and without that process I most definitely wouldn’t be where I am today.
You are viewed as a bit of a sneakerhead. Where did your love for sneakers originate and what was your gateway into the sneaker scene?
I grew up an athlete - playing basketball, softball, and soccer from when I was 3 until high school. I played softball and basketball in college. My love of sneakers stemmed from my love of sport (mostly basketball) and wanting to not only be the best player on the court but have the best shoes on court as well. I also grew up in Pennsylvania and am a huge 76ers fan - Allen Iverson was my biggest inspiration and to this day, still is.
How would you describe your own sense of style ? What factors help you decide your ideal shoe?
I definitely like to keep things colourful and cozy. My style is reflective of my mood most days, and it’s a great way to express myself. Being an athlete I definitely prefer sweatsuits - so you’ll see me wearing those most days. Factors that help me decide my ideal shoe would be either my mood for the day, or if the shoe matches my outfit. I’m one for wearing what I like and not letting hype drive the decisions and sneaker purchases I make.
As a young female, what are some of your thoughts surrounding the sneaker industry? Are there any improvements that need to be made within the community?
There are a lot of amazing women in this community with great ideas and a lot of information that I would love to see have bigger platforms and a bigger influence in this community. I think we need to uplift those voices and stop stereotyping women within this community as liking a specific style, silhouette, or colourway of a sneaker. We’re not a one sized fits all concept - there’s so many of us with our own unique takes to sneakers and that holds a lot of value. It’s not about men's sizing vs women’s sizing anymore - it’s beyond that. It’s about giving respect to women who have a lot of knowledge when it comes to sneakers. It’s about embracing women who are new to the community and not criticising them for wanting to learn. It’s about promoting and highlighting the women who have unique skillsets and bring new ideas to the table. It’s about hiring more women to work within this industry. Don’t write us off because we are women.
Who was someone that first inspired you in the fashion world and how do they compare to some of your current influences today?
Allen Iverson - he’s the epitome of showing up 100% as himself and owning it despite the barriers he had to face in doing so. He will always inspire me because he leaves it all out there on the line and I respect that so much.
What is a key message you aim to relay to your followers?
Be yourself and own it.
If you had to put together a whole fit that you would wear daily based off products on The Edit LDN site, what would you pick and why?
The New Balance 992 Tan
The Yeezy x Gap Hoodie in Brown
... With some jeans.
What is one of your most prized possessions in your sneaker collection that holds significance to you?
My OG Jordan 17s - I don’t wear them, but they mean the most to me since they were a pair I used to wear and play in when I was younger. When I grew out of them, my mom gave them away and I never let her forget it. Two years ago for Christmas my parents gifted me an OG pair in my current size (briefcase and CD included) and it meant the world.
Do you have any advice to those influencers who may be struggling with their own mental health whilst trying to create and keep up with content?
Prioritise your mental health and do not set yourself on fire to keep others warm when it comes to your emotional wellness. It’s okay to take a break and evaluate your relationship with social media because in doing so you’ll be able to bounce back stronger than ever.
Lastly, is there anything you have planned for the future that you wish to share with our readers?
Lots to come for MENTL.SESH in 2022 - that’s all I can say!