LAMAV EMPOWERING WOMEN SERIES
At LAMAV we’re all for empowering and celebrating women. Our new blog series focuses on Inspiring Women who are all doing their part to help others and make positive change. Grab a cuppa and take some time for you to sit down and read along while they share their experiences and advice to enjoy a happy, healthy and successful life. We know you’ll enjoy reading their journeys and insights as much as we do.
We interviewed Jenna Abbasi, a lived and experienced mental health advocate, content creator, artist and new mum from Brisbane to talk about the balance between motherhood and business and how she found the courage to share her own battles in an attempt to help others heal.
You became a mother earlier this year, congratulations! How are you finding motherhood and juggling your jewellery business, Melleosun?
I became a mother recently in March 2023, and although I did prepare myself for the big change in how my life would be.. I struggled with the concept of not being able to do things I usually did. I loved being able to just get up and go for a walk, be creative, make things, go on my laptop and study etc. Creativity is really important to me and it felt so stressful not being able to engage in my hobbies.
Hobbies are a form of therapy for me, it makes me happy. So I did some thinking and naturally found a new hobby that I could do on my phone with one hand.. and that is editing content, creating more helpful posts for my followers on instagram, sharing more about healing and this new chapter of life, creating a new business called Melleosun. Which I can also do from my phone.
It has brung me so much purpose and kept me somewhat sane on the days I feel stuck indoors being a Mum. Juggling both things can be a struggle for me in the sense of.. I'm someone who likes to instantly act on my ideas.. but can’t with a baby. So I've simply just balanced my time and priorities being a Mum.. but utilising my time in the morning and time at night when my husband is home, using that time to engage in my new hobbies which includes doing posts and making jewellery for Melleosun!
Art seems to be a passion of yours. Can you tell us a little bit about how you started creating and why you enjoy it so much?
I have always been a creative person ever since I was a small child, I was always sitting there painting, making, getting into my mum's oil paint kits. When I started struggling with my mental health.. I lost interest in everything. I didn’t really know what I was good at or even enjoyed doing. I was so preoccupied with engaging in disordered habits that my eating disorder brang upon me. When I was in hospital I would do art in my room, create things when I could & I remembered how safe it made me feel. How the happy bright colours and freedom of creating bring me joy.
When I began healing and recovering.. I started rediscovering my interests and hobbies and found art again. I started going to art school as something to do whilst healing and figuring out where I wanted my life and career to go.. and I was the happiest I had ever been. Going there everyday and creating. I found a joy for painting and ceramics and started a Clay and Sip business by myself. I started with 2 customers and some plastic tools.. and very fastly grew to 250+ customers a week and hit 100k that year. I always stayed true to my values and never made it about money. I feel like staying authentic allowed me to naturally move through abundance and feel gratitude for what I was doing.
When I became pregnant last year I put this on hold and began working from home as a youth mental health worker online since mental health advocating was still another passion of mine.
As a busy mum and small business owner, how do you take time out of your day to look after yourself?
Sometimes I can’t and I've noticed my value for “ putting myself first ” has actually had to be put aside. I’ve had to learn to come to terms with compensating my own needs and putting my baby's needs first in some tough moments! It’s been a struggle, but the new way I’ve learnt to look after myself is to “think, observe, accept, change and forgive “
I listen to positive affirmations on the TV every morning and I find this helps me facilitate a space of compassion for myself. To forgive myself when I feel like I’m not a good mum if I look after myself too etc. I find looking after my mum helps a lot since looking after myself physically can be hard some days with a baby now!
A couple of years ago you bravely shared your story about your struggle with an eating disorder. What prompted you to share your story and how did you find the courage to talk so openly about something so personal?
One of my main purposes when I started recovery was to share it with others so I could help others. I was already sharing my raw authentic journey online when I had a youtube account.
I would create vlogs sharing my healing process, challenging food behaviours and talking about all things recovery. So many other people would watch and feel inspired to begin recovery too knowing that if I can do it.. they can too.
It was a motivation for me to heal, if I could guide others to heal too. Naturally I became a mental health advocate and worked with mental health foundations through Instagram and I was given opportunities to speak on podcasts, speak in high schools around my city, speak on the news and in newspapers. It felt like my story was valued and I only wanted to do it if I could inspire someone else. I always believed in the “ small bits of light in the darkness can help “. If I could inspire just 1 person, I'd be happy. Do it for the 1 person is what I'd say to myself. Because I held so much empathy knowing that when I was at my worst, this is exactly what I would have needed. Someone to authentically just go for it and bring hope.
What positive change do you hope to achieve by sharing your story and journey?
I want to reduce stigma in this world, create a SAFE place for people to show up and exist authentically in this world without feeling bullied and shamed upon by society's horrible standards of worthiness and beauty. I pray for authenticity, acceptance and inclusivity.
Sharing my vulnerabilities online helps others also share theirs.. and that is what makes us humans feel human. I believe it needs to happen.
A world that is full of hustle, chaos and assertive norms.. is not a world that feels authentic to me and I know it doesn’t for a lot of others. I know how it feels to be stuck in thinking life should be lived a certain way.. but it doesn’t and I want others to feel free from that and to take back control of their life.
Has becoming a mother changed how you view your body?
It hasn’t really, it has just helped me appreciate my body, embrace it and love what it has done and can do. When I was pregnant I struggled with the comments I'd get from others and my appetite changes. But I stuck to my positive affirmations which helped me accept whatever would happen.. would happen.
What steps did you take/have you taken to heal from your experience? Do you have any advice for others who may be experiencing body image issues? What are some steps or resources you can suggest that they may find helpful?
I began searching inwards and started surrounding myself with people online that I could feel inspired by. It was a form of self help, self development and self healing. I started learning from professionals, other mental health advocates, writers, poets and all types of people online and began applying wisdom to my own journey to healing. Surrounding myself with beneficial things online was a massive step to healing for me. Unfollowing anyone and anything that didn’t allow me to feel authentic in this world.
For anyone experiencing body image issues I would highly recommend surrounding yourself with people online that you can relate to, people who post about body neutrality, body diversity and show all types of bodies. You don’t have to love your body, you just have to accept it and find neutrality. Moving into spaces that allow you to feel safe to express yourself helps a lot. It takes away from a body being a focus and instead your worth, personality and what you have to offer in this world ends up being the focus.
If you could go back 5 years what advice would you give yourself?
I would tell myself to just hold on because things will be different one day. That life isn’t going to stay how it was forever. I would reassure myself that everything WILL be okay and that life WILL fall into place.. as long as I keep going and stay true to my values.
What advice would you give to young women who aspire to open their own business?
I would say.. just do it. Personally every-time I have started a business.. I haven’t told anybody about it until I've done it. I’d rather stay clear of any resistance and any opinions that may be unhelpful from others and just GO for it myself. As long as you believe in yourself.. that’s all that matters. Life is too short to be scared and sit back, there’s no harm in trying and failure is a part of the process. It’s how you approach it that helps you succeed. I always believe in getting back up and accepting all parts of it helps.
Time is precious when you’re a busy mum! If you had more spare time what would you do with it?
I would be more creative with my hobbies like pottery and painting. I recently got into doing UGC so I’d 100% spend more time editing! I’d love to spend more hours taking photos, filming and marketing for my business.. collaborating with others and would love to spend more time researching for a skincare business I want to create one day.
You encourage a lot of self-care and positive thinking on your social media. How do you stay positive when you’re having a tough day?
I usually try to focus on the present moment and ground myself to the present rather than trying to waste the day away or “ miss “ the past. I always remind myself that the rain will pass and the sun will shine again. Being kind to myself has to be at the forefront because usually a bad day means more anxiety, and for me more anxiety easily leads to unwanted self blame and negative self talk. Positive affirmations on the TV are my go-to.