After Lifelong Struggles with Anxiety, Janelle Martel Creates Self-Care Subscription Box

When you can’t find what you are looking for, create your own! That is exactly what Janelle Martel did when she couldn’t find any care packages for people that want to give their mental health some love. Channeling her love of psychology and passion for helping others, Janelle created Caring Crate, a subscription box for those who are suffering from chronic illness, experiencing mental health issues, or just need a little extra TLC. With goodies from healthy snacks and scrumptious tea, to journals and beauty products, Caring Crate helps put self-care back at the top of your to-do list.

Janelle was sweet enough to send me a Caring Crate to try recently. To be honest, I completely forgot it was coming, so when the box landed on my porch in the middle of a hectic week, the anxiety prone, overwhelmed, and overworked parts of my soul stepped forward to indulge in some much needed R&R.

My box included:

Channeling her love of psychology and passion for helping others, Janelle Martel created a subscription box for those who are suffering from chronic illness, experiencing mental health issues, or just need a little extra TLC.

Self-care can feel much more like a responsibility, or even a non-essential task, when we’re so caught up in making sure our existence is reassured via a busy schedule, but Caring Crate is bringing positivity back to the self-care experience. Anyone can throw 4-5 products into a box, but Caring Crate is so much more than that. Instead of shoving the significance of self-care down your throat, Janelle is offering you practical self-care tools that are, quite literally, delivered right to your door step.

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Caring Crate is an opportunity to explore new coping techniques (like coloring), an introduction to useful distractions (like baking), and an extra incentive to love yourself.

Being a major advocate for mental health, especially among business owners and entrepreneurs, I couldn’t resist chatting with Janelle and asking her a few questions to get an inside look on what led to the development of Caring Crate…

We’re about getting real honest around here, so tell us about your own, personal confrontation with mental health:

I’ve struggled with anxiety for about as long as I can remember; as a kid, fun things like field trips that everyone else was excited about would leave me feeling sick.  It gradually got worse as I got older, and I ended up having to take the last two years of high school from home because I just couldn’t handle going to class.  My anxiety tends to manifest itself with physical symptoms, which can make it really hard for me to do the things I want to.  My journey with anxiety is very up and down, and it’s something that I’m learning to live with.

How did the concept for Caring Crate come about?

Necessity! I’ve always loved the surprise of subscription boxes and, during a bad week with anxiety, decided that I would love to receive a subscription box for my mental health.  I was shocked after googling “mental health subscription box” to learn that there wasn’t one available in North America. After a couple of days, I still couldn’t get the idea of starting my own out of my mind.

Out of all the subscription services out there, what makes Caring Crate different?

I think our focus on mental health and chronic illness makes us really unique.  I also think that Caring Crate stands out in that we send 4-5 full-sized and high-quality items each month, rather than a mix of samples or low quality products.

How do you select the products that go into each Caring Crate box?

I’m really picky about the products that go into Caring Crate!  I want my subscribers to feel like they’ve just gotten an awesome gift from themselves when they open their box, so I choose products that I would feel great giving as a gift, right down to awesome packaging.  I also love choosing products that are made by local, small businesses and makers because they often have really high-quality and unique products using natural and healthy ingredients.

RELATED: The Mental Cost of Owning a Business That We Need to Talk About

Why is self-care so important?

Self-care is so important because we often forget to be kind to ourselves.  Battling any kind of mental health issue or going through a rough period is crazy tough.  It’s easy to forget this and be hard on yourself or feel bad for needing to slow down.  Self-care is a way to show care for yourself the way that you do others, and to recognize how amazing you are.
Self-care and success walk hand in hand.

Aside from sending a Caring Crate, what’s the best way to be there for someone who is struggling mentally?

I think the best thing that you can do is just let that person know that you’re thinking of them and that you’re they’re for them.  Mental health issues can be incredibly isolating, and simply letting that person know that you’re there is helpful.  I’d also suggest regularly checking in on them and offer to grab them some groceries, go for a walk together, or just watch some Netflix.  Remember, it may be hard for them to ask for your support, and some days they just may prefer to be alone.  Being compassionate and understanding without trying to change them is an incredible way to show your support.

What’s one thing you wish someone would have told you about owning a business you wish you would’ve known before you started?

How many things would go wrong! I certainly expected that I would make quite a few mistakes, but I really underestimated the number of things that would go wrong that were simply out of my control, like issues with the postal service.  I’ve really had to learn how to let go once I’ve done all that I could.

What’s your most memorable experience as an entrepreneur?

I’ve been fortunate enough to get a lot of incredible messages from people that have been impacted just by the idea of Caring Crate.  Before I was even taking orders, I got an Instagram message from an incredibly brave individual who confided in me that she had been going through a really intense bout of depression that had caused her to try and take her own life.  After she’d been released from the hospital, she came across Caring Crate on Instagram and told me that the idea brought her to tears because she was so relieved that there was something like this out there. If I’m ever struggling with my business, all I have to do is think of this message and I’m instantly re-inspired.

Channeling her love of psychology and passion for helping others, Janelle Martel created a subscription box for those who are suffering from chronic illness, experiencing mental health issues, or just need a little extra TLC.

What’s the biggest thing you struggle with as an entrepreneur?

One thing I really struggle with is confidence – I frequently catch myself thinking that there’s so many others out there who know more and could be running my business more efficiently than me. I try to remind myself that I’m not alone in this struggle, which does help.

Notice a trend here Gems? Jewelry Designer, Steffi Keung, also talked on the importance of, and struggles with, confidence

Where do you see your business in 5 years?

That’s a tough question!  Like any business owner, I’d love to continue seeing growth.  In 5 years from now, I’d like to have grown my business to the point where I’m able to have an amazing team working with me.  I’d love to work with inspiring, creative and devoted individuals who may not be able to hold a traditional job due to a mental health issue and/or chronic illness.

RELATED: Battling Depression Encouraged Me to Become an Entrepreneur

  • Dan

    Wow! That’s great! Feeling similarly inspired, my wife and I created, which is a subscription box featuring candles and hand-crafted ceramic bowls made by artisans near the shores of the Mediterranean. Maybe these candles could be good to accompany your yoga, too?

  • What a fantastic idea for a subscription box. Thank you so much for sharing, I know so many who would benefit from something like this (myself included!).

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