Aiden Hatfield: Leeds clothing company boss on coping with mental health issues
At least 20 boxes of stock are piled up in Aiden Hatfield's front room - and that's not counting the hats, T-shirts and jackets that have taken over the rest of his Morley home.
For the past four years, the 29-year-old has run his own clothing company In Music We Trust from his house, each sale supporting people, like himself, living with mental health problems.
And as orders continue to flood in from as far away as Mexico, China, Australia and Canada, he is now looking to move to commercial premises for the first time.
He told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “It’s amazing that there are people all over the world who appreciate more needs to be done to support people with their mental health.
“I’m grateful for every minute of this and for everyone who has supported the company.”
In his words, Aiden’s business sells ‘music’s merchandise’.
As a man who since the age of 13 has played guitar and gigged in bands, the theme seemed like an obvious focus.
But more than that, the company gave Aiden an opportunity, for the first time, to speak openly about living with depression and how he manages day-to-day.
“The one thing that has always kept me going is playing music,” he said.
“Music is the one thing that has always made me feel safe, alive and at home. It makes me feel like I am worth something, I am good at something.”
His dream of running a clothing brand dates back to his teenage years, when he hoped to follow in the footsteps of bands like Blink 182 who have their own branded merchandise.
“But I wanted to do it for good reason,” he said. “I didn’t want to be yet another musician that also runs a clothing brand on the side.”
Inspired by Toms shoes, which through people’s purchases, provide shoes, sight, water and safer birth services to people in need, he launched his firm in 2014 and since day one, has donated fifty per cent of the profits to charity.
At first, it supported the Depression Alliance, but when the organisation joined MIND, Aiden, who was born in Lichfield but grew up in Dewsbury and Mirfield, followed suit and his company now supports people experiencing a range of mental health problems.
“I knew that I was on to something amazing,” he said.
“I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t think it was.
“I knew that it had the potential to do as well as it is doing but I didn’t know I did, and to begin with I didn’t.
“I’m still surprised that I managed to do it and I managed to do it single handedly.”
Reflecting on his depression, he added: “The worst part is not knowing why you feel the way you feel.
“When stuff starts going well, it is difficult to enjoy it because you think I am going to really miss this when I have another down day when the depression kicks in again.”
As well as processing orders, Aiden, who has run the company full time since August last year, spends hours each day on social media responding to messages and encouraging people to talk about mental health and to seek support.
He said: “My aim is to let everybody know that it is okay to talk about this stuff. It doesn’t make you any less of a person because you suffer from depression or any other mental health issue.
“Anything that is difficult to do that you manage to do makes you a stronger person.”
Spreading the word that it is okay not to be okay is something Aiden also does through his music.
He is in the process of writing his first solo release and plans to play across the country later this year, urging people to talk about mental health in the process.
The YEP’s Speak Your Mind campaign is also encouraging people to speak about mental health and aims to challenge stigma and discrimination.