In August of 2015, I closed down my very first start-up. An organic skincare brand, which I had built from scratch with no prior experience whatsoever. The idea behind the brand was to use essential oils proven in clinical trials to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. The research was gained from an eight thousand-word thesis paper I was writing at the time while studying a Master of Public Health. I had become a little obsessed with the application of complementary and alternative therapies for depression and anxiety as I was looking for ways to treat my own symptoms.
A lot of mental, emotional and financial resources had been outlaid on the brand. The purpose of the brand was to inspire happiness. I had designed the most beautiful packaging, as well as the skincare formulations with a manufacturer. I had six beautiful products that looked pretty, performed excellently and smelled great! However, as statistics state, 95% of all start-ups fail, and sadly my first start-up had become a statistic. The closing down of my skincare brand took such a toll on me that I vowed not to think about any form of entrepreneurship for at least six months. I would use that time to rest, recuperate and figure out what to do next with my life.
From that moment on, I would try as I might to do the “normal things”: apply for a normal job, or go back to study. I would apply for jobs that seemed remotely close to the excitement a start-up environment could offer. Yet I failed every time to get a job offer, as I was found to be either “over qualified” or “under qualified”. Frankly my start-up experience wasn’t valued, and so I began to believe that I too as a human with great potential wasn’t valued in the “normal” corporate environment.
Meanwhile, my ambitions to start my second start-up simmered under the surface, I tried my best to ignore it every time. Yet despite myself, I somehow managed to register a domain name Sekehla.com and opened up Facebook and Instagram accounts. The name Sekehla translates to happiness. It comes from a language spoken by my maternal grandmother, from the Gogodala tribe of Papua New Guinea.
As you can see, my interest in happiness as a brand narrative hadn’t quite escaped me. However, I wasn’t sure what direction to take the brand, and my continued attempts to fit into “normal” society had influenced my decision to pursue further study so as to get a well-paid corporate job, and all my problems and shortcomings would be solved.
So on January 2016, I enrolled to study a Master of Marketing. Finally my life could get back on track and I could at last be valued as someone who could contribute to society and add value to whom ever would hire me. However, one semester into my study and I quickly realised I was bored with the content, feeling uninspired and lacking in motivation. I was beginning to feel like a failure and had nothing to show of all my efforts so far.
I would spend hours on end escaping my thoughts of inadequacy with fantasy genre movies and books. Fantasy had become my favourite genre as it transported me to far away lands where anything was possible and the hero would always win the day. I loved that despite the hero’s many challenges, a solution was always reached. I lived vicariously through these stories. I told myself that I wasn’t in fact wasting time, while I really should have been studying. Because all my previous research had taught me that when symptoms of depression and anxiety occurred in the brain, it is like a map of roads and pathways that stops growing, and when you do things like consume stories, and read, you begin to open up those neural pathways again.
I was committed to opening up those neural pathways again. And frankly reading and watching those movies was the only thing that brought me momentary happiness and a place to escape all the worries that had consumed me. What had started out as a form of escapism had turned into an obsession, one that I was more than willing to fuel. I would prefer to huddle up in my bed with a great movie than to see friends, or do normal things like date. I was the crazy person in movie cinemas taking down notes. Everything else seemed too overwhelming, while I only had time and energy for my super heroes and my stories.
I slowly developed an interest in stories and their transformative effect on your life, your brain and the positive effects on symptoms of depression and anxiety. Instead of completing subjects within my Master of Marketing degree, I was learning about how to become an author through YouTube and Podcasts. I found this far more interesting than the “How to create a blog” tutorial taught at my university. I already knew how to create a website/blog and I was hungry for something that I didn’t already know how to do.
I would instead learn about the art of story telling and it’s effects on the psychology of happiness. Rather than spending money on dinner and drinks out with friends, I was spending my money on books and movies that inspired me, taught me new things, and started to give me pieces of myself which I felt that I had lost. Then it hit me, here it was; the answer I had been searching for over the course of twelve months since shutting down my organic skincare brand. I would transform Sekehla.com into a brand experience that utilized the art of storytelling with the psychology of happiness to create products and experiences that inspired happiness in people.
I would build a world that was inclusive of people just like me, people that didn’t quite fit it, people that thought differently and were shunned for it, and people with grand visions that were laughed at for having such audacity to dream big. Within the world of Sekehla, anything would be possible, and you were encouraged, always, to chase your dreams.
This would be my very own fantasy genre story, where fantasy meets reality. But with every fantasy story, a hero is needed. And so I would create the main character behind Sekehla, her name would be Karmen Aurora. Sometimes I feel like she found me, rather than her being a figment of my imagination. Through Karmen’s stories, we are all given the opportunity to live a different perspective on life. The greatest lesson she could ever teach us is the power of imagination. With imagination, there are no limits.
Lots of love,
There are adventures awaiting.
Come join us! Sign up below.