Fashion entrepreneur Claire Mazur talks about dealing with depression through running, work-life balance, and meditating, and speaks out on how to break down stigma.
Claire Mazur, 34, is co-founder Of a Kind, an online business that sells pieces from emerging fashion designers and tells the designers’ backstories. She has been listed in Forbes’ “30 under 30” and Fashionista’s “50 Most Influential People in New York Fashion.” She speaks of her experiences with depression so that others don’t feel alone.
What inspired you to start a fashion retail business while still in your 20s?
In 2010 I started Of a Kind with one of my close friends, Erica Cerulo. I had a background in fashion and art and was working in the art world. Erica was the editor of a men’s magazine. We both had a lot of interest in fashion and, with the Internet, saw an opportunity for an intersection between content and commerce.
What’s your best fashion tip?
Wear what makes you feel good!
Why do you speak openly about your depression despite persisting stigma?
Depression can be isolating and lonely, but by talking about it, I hope to make it a little less so. It’s not a rare thing and you’re not alone. I wish when I was [first] going through it, people talked about it more.
Have you experienced any backlash?
No, but I have gotten a lot of positive feedback. People who have struggled with depression have told me that they appreciate when people are honest about it. People have also told me how much exercise has helped them manage their depression. To hear that has been very rewarding.
What are your most challenging symptoms?
Intense isolation and loneliness. I feel like I’m not grounded, and it’s accompanied by anxiety. It’s definitely something I still deal with regularly.
How do you manage your mental health in your work life now?
I exercise almost every single day. I run for a half-hour minimum, three to six miles a day. It’s really important for me to run first thing in the morning. Often the morning is when I’m feeling the lowest. Running doesn’t always solve the depression, but it mitigates the symptoms. If I wait until after work to exercise, I’m hungry or I’m too tired. So I do it in the morning before anything else comes up or anybody starts putting meetings on my calendar.
What other strategies help you maintain wellness?
Talk therapy is really important. Meditation helps, too, even it’s just for five minutes a day. I like a free app called InsightTimer that has guided meditations of different lengths, so I can just grab one that is five or ten minutes long.
How does your experience with mental health challenges influence how you deal with your employees?
My experiences with depression are something I talk openly about, and if someone on our team is struggling, I let them know I’m available and open to talking about it with them if they want. [Erica and I] try to set a good example about finding time to exercise and eat healthy and find some amount of [work-life] balance. We try to set reasonable expectations about working hours and taking time off, too.
Any advice for entrepreneurs hoping to start or nurture a business?
One of the most important and overlooked thing is asking for help. You can’t do it on your own; you have to rely on so many other people.
What have you learned about depression?
First, I learned that there’s a strong connection between body and mind. Sleep, eating well, and exercise all play a huge part of making sure you’re taking care of yourself. Second, depression is not something that can be taken care of by ignoring it or feeling ashamed about it. And feeling ashamed about it just makes it worse.
Printed as “Back Chat: Claire Mazur,” Winter 2019
via Esperanza – Hope To Cope
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