Sam Webb, co-founder, LIVIN
Sometimes it just takes something small … to give you confidence, hope and happiness ...
One in four young Australians between the ages of 16 to 24 is currently living with a mental health condition. That’s equivalent to 750,000. Of those, one in 16 are currently experiencing an affective disorder such as depression. Sadly, for Sam Webb and Casey Lyons, these statistics are not arbitrary numbers on a page. For them, like many Australians, those numbers represent friends, loved ones and family members. After losing a mate to depression in 2013, the pair started LIVIN, a charity dedicated to destigmatising mental health and suicide prevention through fashion. Sam, who has recently relocated to Sydney, took some time out to have a chat with The Weekend Edition Gold Coast.
Can you tell us a little about LIVIN and its mission?
LIVIN was started by Casey Lyons and myself in honour of our great mate Dwane Lally who passed away in September 2013. LIVIN’S mission is to take away some of the stigma that is associated with mental health so that someone who might be struggling can feel that they can speak up and have that conversation with mates or family members. Our mantra ‘it ain’t weak to speak’ is tagged on most of our items and is designed to empower people to have that discussion if you’re not coping.
How did the idea to use fashion as a platform to get LIVIN’s message out there come about?It was actually a really natural thing. Dwane always loved fashion and it just kind of worked with what we were trying to do. We had some plain shirts with the LIVIN logo made up in 48-hours and they went really well so we made some more and it just kept growing.
What’s the big dream?
I guess in a perfect world the dream is to make a massive difference in terms of seeing statistics in suicide and issues related to mental health come down significantly but we just really want to help people and let them know that there is hope, help and support out there.
What influences and inspires your work?
For me personally, I feel good when I am helping other people. I like to see other people happy and successful. The biggest thing that inspires me is to hopefully make a positive change in someone’s life.
You have a personal understanding into what some of these families and friends are going through, what insights did you gain from your own experience?
There’s so much heartache, questions and guilt that will continually run through your head but sometimes, at the end of the day, you can only do what you can do. Don’t ever be afraid to bring up the discussion if you’re worried about someone. Speak up and ask them if they’re okay.
What is the greatest lesson you’ve learnt on this journey so far?
This isn’t going to happen overnight. It’s going to take a lot of time and a lot of help, support and resources as well as late nights and busy schedules. It will be all worth it in the long run.
What has been the most rewarding part of establishing LIVIN?
The most rewarding part is getting feedback from people who have sought help because they’ve seen our brand and seen what we’re doing. People have reached out to me who I never thought would have been in a bad place or a place where they’re struggling and they’ve said that because of LIVIN, they felt like they had a voice and can talk and open up. That alone is a huge because they wouldn’t have done that any other way.
Do you have any advice for people on opening the lines of communication with a mate or family member?
If you’re concerned about a loved one or a friend who might be acting off, just open up and ask them if everything is okay. And listen. I think listening is the most important thing. Sometimes people want to open up and tell you how they feel but I think that can be daunting for people as they may get confused and worried about what to say next. Sometimes people just want someone to listen. Tell them that you’re there for them if they ever need to talk. Don’t be afraid to bring up the topics, ask people if they are struggling or feeling down or depressed. Bring it up because that’s the only way we are going to be able to change the stigma.
We understand there is a line of active gear in the pipeline, can you tell us about this?
We’re looking to launch a range of gym gear really soon actually. Active wear aligns really well with our philosophy “healthy livin’ is a healthy mind”, it’s not to say that everyone should go to the gym or they won’t be happy it’s just about living a healthy lifestyle and being active can have a positive impact. A while ago I found myself in a place where I wasn’t very happy and I used to rely on fitness, health and running – it helped tremendously. Exercise opens up a lot of positive endorphins in your brain.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
Don’t rush things! Much haste much waste is the old saying. I think also to persevere with things that matter. If it isn’t working overnight or in a month or two or even six years, it doesn’t mean it’s not going to, you’ve just got to keep persisting with it. If you’re passionate about something and you enjoy what you do then all the positives and results come with it.
What are some of the events LIVIN is looking to rally behind?
We’ve just done the Tri Series triathlon events and we’re in talks with some people at the moment about some partnerships so it’s very exciting. We’re looking to get involved in as many events as possible that are going to bring people together and get them talking.
LIVIN has already gained a huge following around the country, what’s next for the brand?
I guess now we are really looking at our processes. There are always going to be things we can do better or quicker but that’s all part of running a business. A charity is no different. We are also in talks with some people about holding a charity ride from Queensland to Melbourne. And as mentioned, we’re also looking to release the active wear in the near future.
What achievement are you most proud of?
When we first started this I said that we’re going to turn this into a fully registered charity in Australia and after almost eight months of back-and-forth with the government, mountains of paperwork and liaising, it finally happened late last year. Actually getting it singed off was really humbling, I felt like we had really accomplished something. It feels good doing something that I like doing but the fact that I’m helping people as well is amazing.
How do you define ‘success’?
From the very start I said it is going to be unrealistic to save the world and it is. We’re not going to be able to save every single person but if we can save even one person’s life, then LIVIN has been a success. That’s all it takes.
What are your words of wisdom?
Keep positive. Just keep punching away because all it takes is one small happy or positive thought or a hello from someone in the street to change your outlook. Your day might be completely shit and a pretty girl says hello and sometimes it just takes something small like that to give you confidence, hope and happiness. A simple hello could change everything.
FAVOURITE WEEKEND SPOT TO:
Perk up … Helen’s Heavenly Bulk Health Foods on James Street. The juices are the best.
Relax … Going for a run around Burleigh headland with some music.
Dine … Justin Lane in Burleigh.
Indulge … Cold Rock Ice Creamery. You just can’t beat the cookie dough with Nutella mixed in.
Be inspired … Burleigh hill.