Mental health is the biggest concern of the media right now and new self-help style books are being added to shelves every week. Mindfulness is also infiltrating everything from technology to travel, and it’s about time too. TV presenter and entrepreneur, Poppy Jamie, is the latest to launch an app to help ease anxieties among millennials. We speak to her about the unexpected challenges in building a tech company, tips on finding a healthy balance and how she stays grounded as a multi-hyphen millennial juggling several projects at once.
What inspired you to set up Happy Not Perfect?
We want to help the mental health epidemic - anxiety and stress levels have never been higher. This is having such a negative impact on how we feel day-to-day as well as our physical health. It also came from a desire to change how we view our mental health - we brush our teeth every day and move our bodies, so we should be approaching our minds in the same way. It’s a muscle we need to look after. I found there wasn’t really any practical tools other than meditating.
How is your app different to your competitors in the wellness industry, such as Headspace?
We’ve taken an interactive approach to mindfulness. Headspace is great for meditation, but for those who perhaps struggle with attention span or want to try something on the go, we’ve created the first ‘interactive mind gym.’ We give minds a workout in seven steps in under five minutes, which encourages introspectivity to help make better decisions, improve sleep, and so on. As well as meditation, we also offer other routes, such as our grateful diary. We have to think about the mind in the same way we work out - we don’t just go to the gym and do sit-ups. We see our app as a toolbox of tricks.
What surprised you most about setting up an app? What challenges did you face?
So many! It’s like having a pet - it’s so unpredictable. The app really needs looking after and it’s very much alive. I’ve learned a lot about patience - if you want something done quickly, don’t go into tech. You’ve got to really love the process as there are no shortcuts.
How can we manage technology better in our lives? Can you give us three tips?
One: Instagram can be an amazing thing, just be careful who you follow. Make sure all the people you’re following are value adders i.e. people/accounts that make you feel good. This could be inspirational quotes or people you are thrilled to see updates from. Remove anyone who makes you feel bad about yourself. Your self-esteem is your armour. Secondly: make sure you have a moment before bed where you allow time before sleep. Technology disrupts our circadian rhythm, which has a detrimental impact on sleep. Finally: control technology and don’t let it control you. If you receive a message, don’t feel the need to immediately respond. Create boundaries with technology, for example when I’m with friends and family I don’t let my devices interrupt. Writing down rules can also help you make commitments to yourself.
We heard you’re looking at setting up stores in the future? Is this because you’d like to generate offline connections via an online brand?
Yes. When it comes to mental wellbeing, a huge factor that affects our happiness is community. We’re looking at organizing pop-ups globally to bring people together. We’ll also sell physical products such as happiness diaries. We want our customers to touch, feel, see and breathe the brand.
As an app that encourages a healthy approach to being online, how have you applied this to Happy Not Perfect’s social media strategy?
Technology is not the devil, it’s how you use it. For our brand’s Instagram feed, we love inspirational quotes and little nuggets of wisdom. We’re launching ‘The Daily Time Out’ on the app too, which will offer a perspective shift or a breathing exercise. Ultimately, we want to stimulate positive thoughts via our social media.
How do you balance your time running Happy Not Perfect with your other brands, such as Pop & Suki?
Happy Not Perfect is my baby, so right now I’m thinking, living, breathing it 24/7. Pop & Suki is like the older sister who is doing really well and doesn’t need a lot of support as it’s already established.
What do you do offline in your spare time?
I try to see as many friends as possible. I’m also a big fan of yoga and walking meditation. In this world where we are constantly told to do more, time out for yourself is like a type of radical self-care.