Free your mind

Business Name:  Free your mind

Support received: Local initiative for Redbridge residents

Location:  London

Website:  http://www.freeyourmindcic.com/


Natasha Benjamin, a social entrepreneur founded her mental health support organisation Free Your Mind in 2013, influenced by her own experiences.

We spoke to Natasha about her move into running her own business.

What inspired you to set up Free Your Mind?

My personal experience influenced my business model.  I started a blog in 2012 after I was diagnosed with acute depression as a way to put my experience into words and share what I was going through with others in a similar situation.

What initially started as a self-coping mechanism, soon morphed into a blog with a strong following – where readers were able to contribute, share and express themselves.

Having previously worked in marketing, I never envisaged starting or running a business until my personal experience motivated me to take the plunge.

I decided to turn the blog into a social enterprise delivering a range of workshops, events and support groups. I wanted to help educate people about mental health and wellbeing, and show people how they can self-manage their emotions safely. My own experience brought me to want to help others.

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“Once I decided to turn my blog into a business, I attended LSBC’s business start-up course after which I was assigned a Business Advisor to work with me in creating a business plan and cash flow forecast under LSBC’s local initiative for Redbridge residents.”

How has the London Small Business Centre supported you?

Once I decided to turn my blog into a business, I attended LSBC’s business start-up course after which I was assigned a Business Advisor to work with me in creating a business plan and cash flow forecast under LSBC’s local initiative for Redbridge residents.

I find my sessions with my adviser very motivating. Sessions are always a good time to take stock and look at what I have achieved because I don’t get the chance to do that anymore!

How has the business grown and developed?

Free Your Mind has an online community exceeding 20,000 users.  I’ve been organising events, workshops and selling branded merchandise to encourage more young people to express the difficult issues they may be facing through music or writing.

I currently employ one full-time employee and rely on volunteers to help me with Free Your Mind’s activities.  I am keen to reach beyond London’s vulnerable youth, therefore I also launched a crowd funding campaign to help me to develop and launch a mobile app to enable a wider reach.

What advice do you have for other budding entrepreneurs?

Keep going even when it gets hard. You will want to give up so many times, but don’t give in to those feelings.

Images: Copyright Free your mind

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