Francesca Timbers is a British-Italian Psychology graduate from London. She also happens to be the creator and driving force behind self-care band-aids ‘Motivational Tattoos’.
In September 2015 the most likely place to find Francesca would be her parents front room. A place she would often sit to hand cut and print her tattoos ready for an eager and supportive fan base who were desperate to wear her motivational tattoos.
Three months later she launched a successful Kickstarter campaign where 327 backers would help her raise a whopping £4,657. By January she was re-branding, prepping for mass production and had set up permanent base online with motivationaltattoos.com.
Her work now sells world-wide reaching over 20,000 plus people in over 60 different countries. Not only does she inspire those of us dealing with mental illness with her thought-provoking and reassuring band-aids, she’s also a huge credit to the world at large with her dedication to raising awareness in mental health. As an entrepreneur and designer myself, I find Francesca’s dedication, drive and designs greatly inspiring, and having spoken with her I’m also greatly encouraged to learn that she has created such a successful brand helping so many people, all whilst dealing with her own mental health issues. An interview that has been a long time coming, I managed to catch up with Francesca to learn a little more about ‘Motivational Tattoos’ and introduce you all to her wonderful world.
It’s great to finally speak with you Francesca. Let’s start with the basics. How would you best describe ‘Motivational Tattoos’ and why did you decide to create them?
Motivational Tattoos are temporary tattoos shaped like band-aids with motivational quotes and affirmations on them. They serve to act as little pick-me-ups and reminders throughout the day. I created these after dealing with my own mental health issues, and when I shared them on social media, a few people expressed interest in buying them, so I set up shop on Etsy.
Since plummeting head first into the mental health and wellness industry, ‘Motivational Tattoos’ has regularly popped up across our network. Did you ever anticipate your project being so successful and do you find it difficult to keep up with at times?
I never expected it to be so successful and was quite overwhelmed at the beginning. I have mental health issues myself, so dealing with the store, and my own personal issues has been quite testing at times.
How do you best deal with your mental health and what impact can suffering with this have on your work?
I try hard not to let my personal, and mental health issues get in the way of my work, but it’s hard. I suffer from depression and generalised anxiety disorder. I’ve been on SSRIs (antidepressants), and am currently in therapy. This past year my personal life has been particularly testing, and managing a busy store at the same time, has been one of the hardest things I’ve done. However, at the same time, the customer feedback, and support from the community on social media, has also kept me going through the darkest times.
Everything about Motivational tattoos is so aesthetically pleasing we naturally assumed you must be from a creative/design background, so we were actually pleasantly surprised to learn that you are in fact a psychology graduate? Could you tell us a little more about your journey to studying psychology and was Motivational Tattoos your first graduate project?
I’ve always had a keen interest in psychology, and I use some of the studies I read whilst at university to inspire my products. e.g. there are studies that suggest temporary tattoos can decrease self harm behaviors and counter negative body image. Straight out of university I got into teaching, and then I got really ill, and spent a period of my life in hospital. This then led onto me creating Motivational Tattoos.
Your work has been featured in Oprah’s Magazine – I almost don’t want to make this a question because the statement looked so good on its own but, for interviews sake, I’ll ask – How did this happen?
One of the editors at Oprah spotted the tattoos online and emailed requesting if I would send them a few packs to try. I happily obliged and they featured them in the next issue!
What have been the most challenging aspects with working on Motivational Tattoos and how did you overcome them?
Honestly, dealing with mental health issues, physical health issues, and personal issues, whilst balancing orders and customers. It can be challenging at times. I have to remember to set aside self-care time for myself. You can’t pour from an empty cup.
What motivates you to make positive changes?
My biggest motivation comes from helping others, so I’d have to say the customers and followers motivate me more than anything!
How important do you think positive affirmations are for our well-being and do you think as a nation we should be putting more emphasis on teaching this in primary education, as a preventative measure to combat future mental health issues?
I think generally, there needs to be more discussion about mental health in the education system. Not only with positivity, positive affirmations, etc. but just generally talking about mental health and encouraging people to be more aware of their own mental health. For a very long time, I was depressed and very anxious, and just assumed everyone felt this way. I lost so much of my youth to depression as a result. I am sure there are a lot of people like me out there whose lives could be completely different if they just had better access to mental health resources, and education about their own mental health.
What’s the most motivating feedback you’ve ever received from a customer?
One of the first custom orders I received, was from a guy who requested I make pack to send to his girlfriend. She was studying at university in another city, she suffered from depression and he was sad he couldn’t be there with her, so he told her to wear a tattoo whenever she felt down. She later emailed me saying that she had almost quit university, and this gift had kept her going through the bad days, and now she was graduating! It felt good that something I’d created had impacted someones life so positively.
What’s next for ‘Motivational Tattoos’?
I have so many ideas in my head that I just need to create! Stay tuned. =)