Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, stress levels have been soaring. As it swept across the globe, fear and uncertainty reigned. COVID made an enormous impact on well-being as it disrupted routines, created vast unemployment and wedged a greater political divide.
Dr. Adam S. Weissman, founding president, CEO and chief psychologist of The Child & Family Institute decided that 2020 was the ideal time to establish Weissman Children’s Foundation (WCF)—a nonprofit that strives to bridge the gap, eliminate barriers and de-stigmatize youth mental illness.
“I was motivated by the mounting mental health crisis and the recent surge due to COVID,” said Dr. Weissman. “With higher rates of anxiety, depression, suicide, trauma, grief, child behavior issues and marital/family conflict, our nation’s most vulnerable and marginalized families are too frequently denied access to affordable, effective care.”
Since the onset of the pandemic, many strived to achieve a state of serenity. Practicing the art of self-care became a focus as more people began exploring meditation, mindfulness, journaling, knitting and crocheting. Mental health benefits include lowered blood pressure, reduced depression and anxiety, increased well being and reduced loneliness.
“I haven’t knitted in years, but when I had to shelter in place, I started again. It was fulfilling and kept me sane,” said Josephine Grisafi—a knitter in New York.
“We saw a huge migration to ecommerce as the primary destination for yarn. In August 2020, we experienced a 75% increase in e-commerce sales. Twenty-five percent were first-time online customers,” said Shira Blumenthal, brand ambassador, Lion Brand Yarn Company—a fifth generation, family-owned yarn distributor in Carlstadt, New Jersey.
KNITTING AND CROCHETING
Giving back is a paramount to Lion Brand Yarn Company. It recently partnered with Mental Health America (MHA)—a community-based nonprofit dedicated to addressing the needs of those with mental illness and promoting mental health for all. It marks Lion Brand’s first collaboration with a charity of this kind.
In June, it introduced a knit and crochet kit to raise awareness and funds for MHA. It contains all the necessary supplies for crafting a scarf. The knit kit includes two skeins of cotton yarn, the pattern, knitting needles and a large-eyed blunt needle. The crochet kit includes two skeins of cotton yarn, the pattern, a crochet hook, yarn and large-eyed blunt needle. The yarn’s bright green hue denotes the national color for mental health awareness. Available at LionBrand.com; the kits retail for $19.99 each. Distribution will soon include crafting retailers. Proceeds benefit MHA.
“The joyful experience of working with our products provides comfort and care through the satisfaction of accomplishment, self-fulfillment, interaction, engagement and shared experiences,” said Blumenthal.
A slew of promotional activities supported the May kick-off, which coincided with Mental Health Awareness Month. Promotions included a month-long “Makers Move It” virtual walk/ run. T-shirts were available; proceeds benefited MHA. There was also a social media challenge.
In May, a representative from MHA made a live debut on the audio-networking social app Clubhouse. Another representative appeared on “The Shi Show,”—a daily web series, hosted by Blumenthal on Facebook Live.
Blumenthal is also the founder of #HatNotHate— an international anti-bullying campaign that generates awareness via the donation and distribution of knit hats during National Bullying Awareness Month in October.
“Our vision is to create a more colorful, connected, comforting and caring world. We see no better way to do that than inspiring people to take care of themselves and others,” concluded Blumenthal.
CRYSTALS AND STONES
For more than 40 years, Ohio-based GeoCentral has been celebrating nature and transforming its bounty into jewelry and home décor. Its collection includes crystals, rocks and holistic gemstones. Every item is curated to deliver positive energy.
“Mindful living focuses on practicing awareness, reflection and acceptance,” explained Megan Giese, vice president, creative and strategic operations, GeoCentral. Due to an upturn in consumer interest in self-care, GeoCentral expanded its collection. Crystals are among the fastest growing categories.
“Crystals are thought to hold various properties. They can help with relaxation, meditation and intention setting,” said Giese. Many of GeoCentral’s recent launches support mindfulness as part of a daily self-care ritual.
Its best-selling Healing Stones collection offers 12 sparkling, pocket-sized stones. Among them is clear quartz, which promotes balance.
The packaging highlights information about each crystal and its affiliated property, and includes traditional healing practices. The box, which dons a contemporary redesign, offers tips on how to cultivate calm.
For 2021, GeoCentral introduced Meditation Stones, which encourage the practice of meditating while using crystals. The set includes seven stones from rose quartz, which radiates calmness and self-love to sandstone, which enhances creativity and eases mental distractions.
Giese encourages retailers to display the collections with the boxes open to enable customers to view the crystals. She also suggests merchandising loose crystals with packaged crystals.
GEMS & BAUBLES
Natural gemstones have been a focus of Bella Vita Jewelry since its debut in 2008. The company, based in Little Rock, Arkansas, also operates its own retail shop.
Its Zara, Birthstone and Token collections are adorned with natural stones. Each creation includes a card that highlights the stones used and their metaphysical properties. For example, amethyst promotes intuition and healing.
Several years ago, Brandy Thomason McNair, owner/ designer, Bella Vita Jewelry, paired up with Essence One—an aromatherapy company in Minneapolis to launch jewelry with essential oils.
“Essence One brings awareness to mental health and wellness through its all-natural aromatherapy products. Each product and scent has been formulated to support an inspired, less-stressed life,” said Lauren VanScoy, owner, Essence One.
The duo’s Essential Oil Diffuser collection offers a bracelet, bracelet set and necklace. Each contains an aromatherapy oil blend. They include Morning Calm, Breathe, Balance and Energy. Each comes with a card that highlights information about the oils and the associated mental health benefits. Suggested retails range from $15 to $30.
“Wellness is an important part of our jewelry collections,” said Howard, owner of Calabasas, California-based Whitney Howard Designs. Its Rock Garden, Blessing Rings and Quotable Cuffs are available at retail at yoga studios, hospitals and recovery centers.