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Sophie Nistco is one of our awesome ambassadors, and fellow modern makers. She started her mental-health-focused apparel brand from her parent’s basement as a hobby and has grown it to be a full-fledged apparel and accessories brand. All before the age of 23!! We sat down with Sophie to learn more about her and her experience growing a small (and very successful) business.  

When did you cut your first sticker?

I cut my first sticker back in May/June of 2019, and it came out horrible! The paper was too thick, the coloring from my printer was not accurate, and they were far from waterproof. But the fact that I had actually made it myself, and turned my art into a physical accessory was the most exciting feeling. I still remember how it felt to have my passion for creating, reignited!

What are a few big moments, or lessons learned to remember since you started your mental-health-focused apparel brand, See The Way I See?

The lesson that I very quickly learned after starting See the Way I See is that I am not alone. After building such a supportive and loving community online and the conversations that I’ve shared with them, I’ve realized that we all have different stories, but our struggles are similar.

How do you stay zen while running a business?

I’m still trying to figure that out if I’m being completely honest. I still have little to no separation between my work life, and just time where I can do whatever I want. I’ve seen this becoming an issue because I created my job around my main hobby, which I am so proud of but at the same time realize that I need to create more things that aren’t for my business. Just for fun! Then again my job doesn’t feel like work too often, unless I’m packing orders all hours of the day for a week straight.

How does art help your mental health?

When I was around fifteen, my Mom actually signed me up with an art instructor (hi Bob!). It wasn’t like classes where they’re teaching you how to connect the knee to the ankle, it was more of an art studio where you pick a seat in whatever area you want, you go through his boxes of props, stacks of photo references, or bring in your own idea, and decide what you want to draw. There were about ten other people there at a time, at all different ages, wearing headphones, and just being “in-the-zone”.

I remember thinking, this is a bit weird isn’t it? But it wasn’t at all. I would have a time span of four hours there and it quite literally felt like twenty minutes, because we were all artists going off into our own worlds of creating. I would be completely focused on the art that I was creating, and Bob would pop in here and there to give me tips and help me on parts of the piece that I got stuck on.

The point of me telling this whole story is that even when I was a younger teenager,
I found art to be my own form of therapy. That four hour art session felt so short because I was able to zone out, and let any worries I had at the time go. 

Would you share with us your mental health journey?

Of course! I have suffered from chronic migraines since I was around the age of fifteen (about 15- - 20 migraines a month). I didn’t realize for the longest time that it was stemming from severe anxiety. Whether it was having to be a perfectionist with my grades, having way too much social anxiety for a teenager, or just worrying about my future. But then came the days where I had anxiety about quite literally, nothing! I couldn’t pinpoint it, and it took a long time for me to realize and understand that there isn’t always a specific cause for anxiety. You can be anxious without reason.

So with the help of my neurologist for my chronic migraines, she was also able to help me find the right medication to help better my anxious thoughts. At first I was intimidated and upset by the idea of having to take a medicine to help “fix” my mind, and even ashamed of needing to be on medication. But over time, I began to understand that I can’t help what I cannot control, without it. Then again I’m not saying it cured me!
I still overthink everything, I still can get anxious from the simplest of things. After all, I am just an emotional twenty-something-year-old just trying to do her best.

Do you have any favorite go-to resources for those learning to cope with their mental health conditions?

One of the best resources to help cope with your mental health is your family and/or friends. Even if they don’t completely understand, sometimes just venting is all you need to do. Or go online (but be safe)! Search up your mental health condition and trust me, you will find a whole community whether it’s on different forums, Instagram, or TikTok. But, if you are in some need for serious medical advice and help, I recommend talking to your doctor to figure out the best steps to take for you.