I’d like to think the world is full of heroes. Not the ones you see on TV, with their superpowers and ability to fight the bad guys. No, I’m talking about heroes we see in our everyday lives.
The ones that can love unconditionally, show kindness and compassion. The ones who say ‘’I’m listening’’ in a group where everyone talks over each other, and it feels like no one’s really paying attention to you. The ones who fight their hardest just to get up every morning and the ones that have been doing it for years.
But the biggest heroes out of them all are people that are going on about their lives, doing the simplest of things despite mental health issues lurking in the background.
When I started Spectrum, I didn’t want it to be a pity parade. I wanted to show the world that there is no bad without good and there is no good without bad. There is something to learn from each story, there are positives in each one of them. There is hope and inspiration, there is sympathy and understanding, and there is the validating feeling of knowing that people with mental health issues can do it all.
A great example of it is Laura Schmidt. An amazing entrepreneur, a visionary, and a hero.
An advocate for mental health awareness, Laura, after graduating from Nottingham Trent University where she studied forensic mental health, has started Lovendu. A company that provides a very powerful tool for dealing with mental health issues. Of course, I’m talking about her lovely journals, which are not only pleasing to the eye but also to the mind.
The subject of mental health is deeply familiar to Laura, however, there is a good ending to each of my stories and this one is no exception.
Q: Laura, where does the name Lovendu come from?
L: There is no story behind Lovendu. It was a word I created on a whim. My logic was, that the best brands in the world were one word. Think Google, Amazon, McDonald’s, etc. so I wanted to create my own word.
I took words that I liked and just played around with the letters. Lovendu was born! There is no meaning behind it, no specific way to pronounce it. I think it’s just a cool word now.
Q: How, when, and why was Lovendu born?
L: When COVID hit in 2020, I found that my mental health was rapidly deteriorating, this led me to desperately begin journaling in the hope that it would improve my own mental well-being.
I soon found that I had more self-awareness, I was sleeping better and being more productive. I began to realise the benefits of journaling and wanted to share this with others. This is how my own dream of starting a business began.
My background in psychology and mental health was extremely helpful in starting the business. I’ve struggled with my mental health since the age of 8. I grew up feeling different and felt like my mental health has certainly restricted my life.
Throughout the years, I’ve tried various treatments which haven’t been effective. Before I started the business, I was struggling to work due to my mental health. The future seemed pretty bleak.
As someone who prided themselves on their intelligence and work ethic, not being able to work was something that really affected me.
The products for Lovendu were something I had brewed on for a while and definitely saw a gap in the market. But it wasn’t until I started journaling myself that I realized the true impact it had.
Lovendu has given me purpose. It has become a love letter to myself. It’s proof to the world that someone who has chronic mental health issues can both suffer from mental illness and be successful.
Q: A lot of the time people think that to start a business you need a very elaborate plan and a huge savings account, is that true?
L: This is very untrue. You don’t need an elaborate plan; you just need to start. Pick a point to start and go from there.
I’m very organized and like plans/to-do lists but you need to make sure you’re actionable. Entrepreneurship is about self-development and constant lessons to be learned so any plan you may have will most likely go out the window.
In terms of money, it really depends on the product you’re launching.
For me, I started with £10. I created two samples of journals for photography on the website and social media channels. I then created the journals on demand and when I had made enough sales, I ordered stock in bulk.
Q: Fast forward to the year 2023, you have quite a big following on TikTok and Instagram, how did you manage to create brand awareness for Lovendu?
L: Tiktok has been a huge part of our growth. I have posted consistently on there for years now and have had a few viral videos which have definitely taken the business to the next step.
I think the biggest lesson from this has been perseverance. I’ve had times when my TikTok’s were struggling to get views, or no one liked them. But it would just take one video to blow up a few months later and things would change completely.
I think it’s also important to show your personality on social media, people love the behind-the-scenes, and also I listen to what my audience wants.
Q: What is the best part about having your own business?
L: The freedom. I choose how, where, and when I work. If my mental health is awful, I can take some time for myself, and I don’t have to deal with the stress of having to explain myself to someone.
Also, it’s exciting to know the endless opportunities this could be! Anything could happen and it’s all super exciting!
Q: In terms of the hard part of running a business, what is the behind-the-scenes reality that not many of us see?
L: I would think the biggest struggle and the biggest thing I try to hide is my mental health struggles. When I’m going through a bad patch, I will try my best to just reply to emails. During these times, it’s not glamorous or exciting as you see on social media.
I’m usually crying under a blanket feeling guilty that things aren’t getting done. I have to heavily rely on my Mum to help make sure orders are dispatched and things are ticking over.
An issue we’re currently struggling with is finding the right warehouse space for us to work in. We’ve grown and we want to scale but finding somewhere the right size, price, and close to us has been difficult.
We have 3 storage units to hold all the stock and pack orders in our tiny conservatory. It’s just been a stream of small problems that we’ve had to fix whilst waiting for a space to become available. This will hopefully be resolved soon!
Q: There are so many people that struggle with mental health, but everyone has a different experience with it. How would you describe your experience?
L: I struggle big time with mental health issues, and I have been since I was a child. I struggle to leave the house, cope in social situations, sleep, etc. Which doesn’t help with trying to scale a business.
I’ve tried various treatments which have been ineffective. I’m learning to live with it and try and push myself when I can. Doing things like journaling, going for walks, and talking with my Mum, has really helped and the only person who can drive your recovery is yourself.
This is why I wanted to create products that could help with this.
I think although the stigma towards mental health is improving, there is still a long way to go. Being a business owner with mental health problems has had its major challenges! And I still feel the need to hide my mental health struggles from the world.
Q: Who are the people in your life that have been your support system throughout this whole process?
L: My Mum has been the most selfless and biggest support with my business. She has packaged orders until late and talked through big decisions with me. Although she’s not employed, she is a massive part of the business.
I think initially, people were hesitant with their support because they didn’t know if my business would last long. But now we’re doing more serious numbers, they’ve been more supportive!
Q: What does Laura do when she is not running Lovendu?
L: I am honestly very boring. I am introverted and like the indoors so if I’m not running Lovendu, I am either sleeping, watching Netflix, or have ventured out shopping. Business consumes my whole life.
Q: You’ve recently launched Seek Self, could you tell me a little bit about it?
L: We wanted to create a product that was the same but more masculine and discreet so men could journal too.
Male mental health still is extremely stigmatised, especially men opening up or prioritising their mental well-being, so I wanted to include men and give them a tool to help them.
Q: You are such an inspiration to me and many others. You’re still so young but have achieved so much already, so naturally, I must ask, what’s next for your business?
L: That is so kind! Thank you!
Honestly, we’re focused on scaling. Finding a warehouse, hiring more people, ordering increasing stock, and hitting those 7-figures!
I’m just trying to enjoy the ride and be grateful for each moment. I want to create more of a community. Try my best to create events for customers and people to come together. We have so many cool ideas we want to try!
Q: If you could give some advice to people that want to start their own business, what would you say to them?
L: For most of my life, I wasn’t sure about what I wanted to do. However, part of me always knew I wanted to be some sort of entrepreneur and I put it off for so long because I was worried about what people would say.
I think my advice would be to stop letting the opinions of others dictate your life. If you want to start a business, just do it! Be authentic to yourself.
I would also suggest focusing on how your product is different and solves a problem. Everything is so saturated; you need to differentiate from the crowd.
Perseverance and failure are needed to be successful in business.
Visit Lovendu here and follow their social media: