FARGO — Sydney Craig wants her new business to create light out of darkness.
The Fargo woman has started a clothing line that aims to help remove the stigma surrounding mental illness and promote mental health awareness.
It's something she has firsthand experience with, as she suffered anxiety and depression in her high school days and was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder starting in sixth grade.
The 21-year-old woman, who now smiles easily and often, has come a long way.
She earned a degree in psychology from North Dakota State University and has started working online on her master's degree from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul. Her goal is to become a mental health counselor.
The clothing line that she is so passionate about has also impacted how she feels about herself and the community.
Besides offering T-shirts, hoodies, joggers, crew necks and loungewear created with the help of local artists, Craig's business also aims to spark a conversation where those with mental illness can feel heard, supported and encouraged.
On top of that, she is donating 10% of every piece of clothing sold each month to a different nonprofit organization that helps the nearly one in five Americans, or 43.8 million adults, with a diagnosable mental health condition.
Since her website — createlight.org — started earlier this year, she has made donations to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Active Minds and Imagine Thriving.
She created the clothing brand "because there many people who struggle with mental illness, know people who struggle or have even lost their loved ones to mental illness."
Craig said mental illness continues to have a "negative stigma surrounding it, unlike physical health."
As an example, she said when someone breaks a bone they are often met with sympathy and offers of help.
If it's mental illness, she said many just "turn away."
"Mental health is just as important as physical health," she said. "We just want to create light wherever we can out of the darkness."
The clothing line delivers messages such as "Be Kind to Yourself" or "It's okay to feel."
Another message on the clothing simply says: "Mental Health is Health."
Craig said her business is working with "incredibly talented" local artists to create original artwork featured on the various colorful clothing designs. Some of those she's working with so far are visual artists Addy Miller and Britta Anderson, as well as photographer and graphic designer Travis Beauchene.
Craig's work on the clothing line, and with customers, artists and the community "has had such a positive impact on my life," she said.
She hopes her clothing line can play a small part in bringing about the changes she wants to see.
"I'm just going to keep working to try to end the stigma surrounding mental illness," she said. "It's my passion."