This week, we're releasing a very small batch of handmade beaded lanyards that today will help to keep you from losing your mask, and post-COVID will help to keep you from losing your sunglasses. You should buy them, they're great. Also, they were made by my mom and my Aunt Janet. All of the proceeds from the Lanyard Project are going to the JED Foundation, which helps protect and promote the emotional and mental health of teens and young adults.
The Lanyard Project was Danny and James's idea.
Danny is our Director of Brand Strategy and James is our Director of Product, and they are both cool.
Like really cool.
And I say this with the understanding that as I type, I have a mustache that a colleague this morning told me makes me look like a "70s Major League Baseball Player". I'm not cool.
Besides being exceptional humans and valued members of the Day Owl recycled backpack family, Danny and James know things. They know how to wear a turtleneck un-ironically and pull it off. One of them has a Buckminster Fuller dymaxion map projection of Earth hanging in their Zoom background. Danny and James seem to know the people who manufacture the zeitgeist.That's why when they wanted to introduce me to their friends Margot and Ryan from their old lives at Nike. I immediately said yes. Ryan and Margot were making lanyards and wanted to collaborate to raise some money for JED.
I chatted with Margot last week because she was the one that started this whole thing. During quarantine, she found some joy in making a beautiful beaded lanyard for her Day Owl face mask. Each time a friend admired a lanyard, she’d give it away and make a new one. Because of her own struggles with mental health, she's also the one that suggested we donate the cash to JED.
In a year like 2020, I understand and support the push to protect people's mental health, but talking to Margot resonated on so many levels and made it personal.
Margot is an athlete. She's a bad ass runner who runs ultra-marathons. She's running from LA to Las Vegas this May with the Speed Project. We're going to get her tied into to our Run Across Haiti. She was a creative at Nike who worked on some of the coolest cutting edge work there, and last year, she was pretty unceremoniously laid off. Then the pandemic hit, and her mental health started to deteriorate. It got bad, and she decided to get help.
"I didn't realize how much of my identity was tied up in my work, and in my employer," Margot told me. "When it was taken away, I really lost track of who I am. That really, really sucked."
As someone who has at times tied WAY too much of themselves up in their work over the years and struggled with mental health as a result, I can relate. We all look for stuff to hold onto that signals who we are to the rest of the world: our jobs, our friends, what we wear. When those things are taken from us, it's disorienting and crappy. It can get bad, and it can mean you start to think hard about why you're living at all.
You're not alone. We've been there. It's totally natural, and you're not crazy. Best of all, it can get better.
If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health, check out JED's mental health resource center here.
When I started this work, after the earthquake in Haiti way back in 2010, I had just left a life in television production. I left because it always felt like no matter how hard we worked, we were always reaching for the lowest common denominator, and yet SO much attention was paid to who you knew and what part of the moment you were part of. I thought that's what it was all about. Turns out that what you have or what you wear (even if it's a lovely recycled backpack) doesn't matter even a little bit. It's about loving ourselves, loving each other, and working hard on things you care deeply about, no matter how weird other people think it might be. That's the stuff that ends up filling us up and making it all worth while. Turns out, that's also why I like Danny and James so much.
Thanks for supporting the Lanyard Project. If somebody admires yours, feel free to give it away and come back for more. You never know when a little bit of shared joy can make the difference for somebody.
To being in this thing together, Ian