My name is Jessie and I am 29 years old. I am now a content creator on Tik Tok full time where I challenge my stammer. I also struggle with my mental health as I have anxiety and depression, so every day I like to spread awareness and document my journey. I had a dream to own my own beauty brand and I want my own pop-up shop, so I am on this journey to achieving it.
Oh my goodness, I cried! I cried because I thought to myself, when you document your day and you spend quite a lot of time by yourself (my partner works long hours), you don’t realise the impact you are having on other people’s lives. So when I saw I had been nominated for that, it just made everything seem real and I got to see the bigger picture. It was weird as it was just this email and a certificate, but it just spoke a thousand words to me. It was just the best feeling, and I still can’t believe it! It made my whole week when I read the email.
I started my Tik Tok as my beauty brand and I was just posting my products, I was doing makeup tutorials.
It was October, and I had been a support worker for just over 2 years. When I joined, it was the start of the pandemic. As the world was starting to open up again, I saw my job relied on my speech so much. I had a massive breakdown at work one day and cried for 4 hours straight; my manager had to come in and I was signed off work by the doctor because I was severely depressed and I was just so anxious to go into work that I couldn’t say a single word.
I remember driving home from my 24-hour shift after that, and I just knew I had to change and start focusing on myself. I was driving past a Starbucks and I thought, “I really want a Starbucks right now,” but I was too scared to go through the drive thru as the speaker box instantly freaks me out. I swung into the drive thru anyway and thought I was going to film this, so I did. I just remember I was so anxious but after I did it I was on cloud 9 and I was so proud of myself. I hadn’t felt that level of happiness for so long, so I decided to post it on my Tik Tok. I thought I was going to get nasty comments and trolls. I didn’t know what I had just done, so I didn’t check my phone, and I was mindblown when the video got 1 million views straight away. I decided to do it again and the same thing happened. Then I thought to myself, I am going to try to do it in other aspects of my life. And so I did, and I documented it.
I then sat down with myself and said if I am challenging myself to all of these things daily, I want the biggest challenge and I thought I really want my own pop-up shop to welcome everyone, to speak to everyone, to do the till and to do a masterclass. I thought, OK, I am going to do it, and now it has just turned into so much more. It’s this journey now with all these supportive people and I am just so grateful.
It has been a massive journey. I always knew I wanted to have my own business. I went to university and did fashion and advertising photography. After I finished university I tried to do wedding photography, and it was the worst decision of my life. I couldn’t communicate at all and I had to bring my friend, who would have to speak for me. I thought I couldn’t keep doing this, so I closed the business down.
At that time, I was on Instagram and I was creating makeup looks and I was being reposted by makeup brands like Morphe and Anastasia Beverly Hills. I then had my friends ask me to do their makeup, so I started building up my makeup kit. I could see certain things, for example, the mink eyelashes. I didn’t want to put these mink eyelashes on my friends, so I tried to look for other options, but they were too shiny and looked too plastic. So I decided to create Mimi Darling Beauty. I went out and found a manufacturer, I sampled and sampled, and then I found the perfect vegan, cruelty-free eyelash and they look amazing!
I think it is all about the product, but it is also about the other side of the business to. It was exactly like when I was trying to be a wedding photographer. I had the product but I couldn’t do the vocal, the directions or the interaction. I just needed the other side, that was my voice. I feel like now I represent Mimi Darling Beauty and everything it stands for, and I am really proud of that.
How important do you think it is to open up the conversation to mental health/mental illness and normalise talking about it?
I could talk about this subject all day long. Growing up, I struggled with anxiety and I never knew. I just thought I was different. I remember every time there was a school Christmas concert I would go into panic mode and every single morning as I was getting ready for school I would repeat my name as I hated the register and I would be so anxious about it. I was a child who was so uptight about these little things and there was no support.
When I think back to when I was a teenager, I was severely depressed, and I had no idea. I remember I was almost 16, and my mom came into my bedroom with my national insurance number, and she said I could get a job, and I thought I was not going to get a job because of my speech. At the time, I was also very suicidal as I used to think to myself, I wouldn’t ever be accepted for a job as you need to communicate to have one.I think back to that time, which was only 13 years ago, and there was no support back then. I had no idea I was depressed. I thought that was the normal way to think.
So now I think it is so important to talk about it and try to be as open and honest as you can be. I do understand that not everybody wants to talk about it, as it is such a hard thing to talk about. It isn’t a weakness to feel this way, it actually takes quite a lot for a person to wake up and to feel this way and to carry on with their day.
When I was growing up in school, I didn’t have any support at all and I was just instantly put into the lower sets as I wouldn’t communicate in the classroom and in groups. I finished school and I got an A and an A* in art. I think back then to the support I didn’t have and to grow up into my adult life, once again with no support, to now where I think it is so important to spread awareness as it’s a fluent speaking world.
It is 2022 and there are so many fluent speakers who don’t know how to communicate with a person who has a stammer. I remember before, I was helping a customer and this man laughed in my face. I will never forget that moment because it makes you feel small. So I’m just trying to educate people, but I’m also hoping to inspire other people who struggle with their speech that people do care and want to learn more about our speech impediment. Growing up can be such a traumatic experience that when you reach adult life, you remember everything you went through as a child.
I just hope we can spread that awareness now.
If you ever meet anyone with a stammer just stand there and give them patients and also eye contact, it just reassures us you are listening and you care about what we are trying to say.