Rocky pair combat crippling illness with new clothing label
JACOB West is only 24 and has been to more funerals than he can count on his fingers.
He has lost some of his closest mates to mental illness and watched their families suffer.
Jacob was diagnosed with severe post traumatic depression himself which crippled him to the point where even he contemplated giving up.
He knew something had to be done. But what?
Jacob confided in close friend Regan Farrer and fiance Kyomi Auberson, and over dinner the idea of Soldiers United was born.
A clothing line designed to raise awareness and money for the fight against mental health was the way these three young locals could try and make an impact.
That idea spawned a small business, with shirts for sale only five short weeks away.
Jacob said from the moment they began discussing the idea, they made their minds up that nothing would stop them from creating a label and awareness.
"We decided right then and there that we where going to design a product and service to spread the word and pass our knowledge on and hopefully that would be enough to help someone going through a crisis or talk someone back off the ledge," Jacob said.
NATIONAL 24/7 CRISIS SERVICES
With an idea in their heads and armed with ambition Jacob and Regan began sorting out the finer details of how to run a business and produce quality clothing people would want to wear.
It's actually kind of funny because Regan works in the mines and I am actually a diesel fitter by trade so designing clothing is a whole new world for us," Jacob said.
"We really just wanted to start a business that wasn't just about us, but a business that creates awareness while a percentage of proceeds could be donated to a charity that fights mental illness.
"We began studying everything from online marketing, charities, mental illness, manufacturing, designing, business skills and most of all creating a label that truly means something."
Jacob said they contacted countless manufacturers to find the perfect one.
"We only wanted the best quality shirts," Jacob said.
"We finally settled on one and one night I sat down and drew up a rough copy of what the design would look like and then got it professionally drawn up and it has just gone from there."
Jacob said the Soilders United brand would start off with shirts only but with all of the support shown already, he hopes to expand the range.
"We have massive ideas in the pipelines to create shirts, socks, hats, kids wear, ladies wear and basically all clothing that can be seen to help spread to people and show them they are not alone and can become a part of Soldiers United," Jacob said.
"The shirts are still about five weeks away and we will be selling them on Shopify.
"We will keep everyone updated with their arrival time on our social media platforms which include Facebook (Soldiers United) and Instagram (soldiers.utd)."
Jacob said they wanted the Soldiers United brand to be a community where people could share their challenges and find ways to overcome their struggles.
When asked where the name of the brand stemmed from, he said from having the ability for people to soldier on, which he learnt through some tough lessons himself.
"I always say to myself there are people worse off then me but I myself had been down some long dark roads and faced some tough battles," he said.
"After losing three grandparents, having my little brother Kurtis West at only 18 years old taken from us in a tragic motorbike accident, praying my sister would make it through when she was on life support and facing financial troubles I felt there was no way out or no light at the end of the tunnel.
"I was diagnosed with severe post traumatic depression and it was crippling me to the point where even I myself contemplated giving up.
"One day I woke up and read an article about not letting a mental illness battle beat you and I said to myself, I am not going to lay down and let this illness take my life over, I am going get up and face this battle head on and become a soldier.
"Adding United to the name was the best idea because if you look at a battle in simple terms the more soldiers that are united the more chance of winning this war on mental illness. We want people to feel as though they are all in this together and as soon as they put their shirt on nothing can bring them down as there is a soldier within."
JOIN THE FIGHT
Head here to check out the tee's.