By: Stephanie Jade Wong
You don’t have to wait until Mental Health Awareness Month in May to talk about the state of your mind.
Social media influencer and creative entrepreneur Mai Nguyen (AKA Little Mai Sunshine) takes pride in being a mental health advocate. The Jersey City-based 20-something uses her platform to help those who struggle with their mental health.
“I love what I do mostly because I get to meet and work with ambitious leaders and passionate go-getters, and create unique projects,” Mai says.
We partnered with Mai to create this Mind Over Madder unisex tee. Mai’s idea behind the phrase is to reframe our language to include stigmatic topics like mental health into everyday conversations. It’s Mai’s hope that this will dissolve negative biases and shed some light.
“Our minds are our own and no one can label it as otherwise,” Mai says. “So when we say mind over madder, or matter, we are saying that we empower ourselves from within first, regardless of external foresight.”
The Mind Over Madder top is screen printed by hand at a print shop in Brooklyn, NY, and 5% of the sales will be donated to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, better known as NAMI. NAMI helps better the lives of Americans affected by mental illness.
AM: What does mental health mean to you?
MN: When I think of mental health, I think about the unseen, and sometimes unknown, ebbs and flows that live in our minds. These hidden parts need tending and nourishment that we easily overlook because we notice our physical health first. But mental health, or what I call mental wealth, is a significant self-relationship to further color our understanding of what it means to connect to our inner wellbeing and enrich our lives with a more mindful presence.
AM: Why did you select NAMI as your charitable cause?
MN: I wanted to contribute on a grander scale rather than relying on my social media influencer presence as the only channel of advocacy. I align with NAMI’s mission of educating, listening, and sharing stories. They are open to any and all help in growing this movement that it makes me feel more determined to contribute to the allied cause.
AM: What are three adjectives that describe you?
MN: Dedicated, personable, and hardworking.
AM: Do you have any side hustles/passions?
MN: Blogging, dancing, and creative/branding consulting.
AM: What inspires you in work and in life?
MN: I’m inspired by everyone around me who persistently chases their dreams and work hard to achieve their goals. It makes me believe in myself, too. Having those people in my life thoroughly inspire me daily.
AM: What motivates you?
MN: When people tell me that my work matters and my bravery doesn’t go unnoticed. Sometimes I feel like I do all the work that I do, but I feel so insignificant in the bigger movement. When people go out of their way to remind me that they really appreciate what I do and that it inspires them, that keeps me going.
AM: What's your proudest accomplishment of this year?
MN: I was a guest speaker for the first time at two different events. I spoke about my life as a social influencer and how I use my platform to further invigorate my strong advocacy for mental health. I was also a featured speaker last month at an event where the theme was “change.”
AM: How do you celebrate your wins?
MN: Wow, I really don’t, and I probably should celebrate more. My celebrations are small self-care moments or treating myself to little escapes such as a museum day or a nice lunch out or even a music concert. I love celebrating moments by being in the moment during experiences that make me happy. It’s about leaning into my happinesses to breed new ones.
AM: What are a few uplifting phrases that you use often?
MN: “You give life to what you give energy to”, and “Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.”
AM: What's something about you that we wouldn't know by looking at your social media profiles?
MN: I am not happy and okay 100% of the time, and that’s OK. I post pretty photos as visual reminders of the little things in my life that wholeheartedly fulfill me. They aren’t intended to display a filtered reality of my life, but to share the good things that have glistened my journey.
AM: What are you celebrating in life today?
MN: That I’m finally reaching out and collaborating on so many amazing projects towards a more meaningful brand that strives to inspire and connect with people!Follow Mai on Instagram @littlemaisunshine and find her on Facebook here.