We got to sit down with the inspiring ladies, behind the wellness platform, Mendü to see how they balance their day jobs, working together, and managing the self-care platform.
What made you come together to set up Mendü?
We were best friends for years before we started working on Mendü. We’ve both had our struggles with mental health in various aspects of our lives – directly and indirectly. After years of super deep conversations (often over wine and cheese), we started wondering: where are the wellness messages that are targeted to women who look like us? Everyone has their own struggles and mental health journeys are all different but we weren’t finding anything that really spoke to the distinct issues we were having to grapple with in our day to day. We wanted something that would speak directly to us. And that didn’t exist…yet.
When you come from an underrepresented group, you inevitably end up in a lot of spaces where you’re the only one, and there are legitimate struggles related to that experience. We felt that there were a lot of options out there in terms of tools to self-care when faced with common things like “stress at work”. But, what about the tools to self-care when you’re faced with discrimination and different cultural norms from what they’re prescribing? We don’t want to gloss over our own reality, and that’s why we’ve made the tools so we can feel well too.
You hold great events and provide regular content on your platform, all whilst working. How do you manage your time between working and Mendü? Whilst of course ensuring you don’t get burnt out?
It is a difficult balance, and we would be lying if we said that it’s always been smooth sailing. A lot of the time, we don’t get as much done as we’d like to for various reasons. At the end of the day, we do as much as we can to the best of our abilities with the time and resources that we have. When we do that, there’s nothing to regret.
In terms of trying to avoid burnout, our perspective is that it’s about being committed to working on ourselves. We think of self-care in a holistic way as a part of our job, and not something that we do on the side, because our job is to show up every day. It’s not working ourselves to the ground one week and being unable to show up the next.
What has been key to growing your platform?
We wouldn’t say that we’re experts on how to grow a platform, but we do believe in being ourselves and trying our best to serve our mission. That’s the key for us. There’s a lot of facets to growing a platform, and no clear rules on how to do it really, so we all have to try to do it in a way that suits us. For us, it’s about having a clear mission and values. That’s who we are no matter what happens. Beyond that, it’s been about trying our best to show up and provide value in a way that serves our mission.
What top tips would you give to readers looking to set up their own platforms?
Our top tip is to start out by having a mission and values. This who you are and what you stand for. Beyond that, a lot of it is about communicating your mission and values. Our second tip is to start out by being willing to experiment. We all want to start out with a perfectly thought out plan that will be widely successful. But, the truth is that every platform is different, and as platform creators, we need to continuously learn what suits this particular platform. The last tip (which we’re guilty of breaching all the time), is to try to enjoy the process. There’s always ups and downs, and some aspects that are successful and others that are less so. At the end of the day, you should be doing this because you want to and feel that it’s important.
How do you stay motivated to keep doing what you do?
Our biggest motivation to keep on going, is that we believe that our mission is important. Womxn of colour have historically often been an afterthought when it comes to mental health and self-care, and products & services are not made with people who look like us in mind, even though we are the most affected. That’s not ok. We’ve both been personally affected by this, and lost people that we care about. Enough is enough.
Staying motivated on the other hand, is a skill that we’ve had to learn. Journaling to practice self-compassion and have perspective is a big part of it, but so is remembering to take time to celebrate the small wins, and supporting each other through the ups and downs that life inevitably presents – having community really. Like all new skills, it’s been something that’s required consistent work and commitment from us, but it’s been equally rewarding.
Finally, what is your sassy life saying?
Gosh, we have so many. We’re incredibly inspired in general by people who tell their truth, like Maya Angelou, Toni Morrisson, and Audre Lorde. A quote that stuck with us recently, is one by Octavia Butler: “If you want a thing — truly want it, want it so badly that you need it as you need air to breathe, then unless you die, you will have it. Why not? It has you. There is no escape. What a cruel and terrible thing escape would be if escape were possible”
Mendü is a self-care app with empowering journaling prompts to rise for Womxn of Colour (WoC). Their mission is to provide the tools so WOC can do the inner work and rise. So we can be the heroines of our own stories.
Calah Singleton is a writer, editor, and mental health advocate. She holds degrees from Yale University and the London School of Economics.
Regina Zheng is a therapist and researcher. She holds degrees from Columbia University and Fudan University.