The Amethyst Story
Amethyst seeks to be a respite of inspiration and hope supporting mental wellness within the Black community. The Greek translation of amethyst is “not intoxicate” because it was believed the wearer of the stone would be protected against drunkenness. The goal of this Amethyst is to help protect against the toxic environment we find ourselves in today, ranging from the debilitating pressures of systemic racism, the constant battle of being comfortable in your own skin to a micromanaging supervisor suffocating your creative space. I want to extend a message of love, comfort, and acceptance through the products and services offered through the store. This is a place where you could breathe easily and build community. You are not alone.
The idea of Amethyst started when I was in college in 2009. I noticed the need for a support group for young people transitioning from home to the college campus experience. I could not initially name what the issue was but I knew that there were some coping methods that I wanted to share. However, I did not think I was the one to speak up because I lacked the professional title. Luckily, I have learned that the platform you need is typically one you create for yourself so, here we are!
At the end of a hectic day, I find having open conversations over dinner with friends who take the time to listen or speak positivity and encouragement into my life recharges strength I need to continue to the next day. While I am not an expert, I surround myself with people who know more than I do, who make me better and who push me further, including my friend that encouraged me to pursue this venture. Most importantly, I appreciate those times when a friend reminds me that I am not a machine, and that I need to take time to repair and restore my mind, body and spirit. This is the purpose of the virtual community of the Creative Corner (coming soon!)
I was raised in church, and I knew the first Sunday at my new college had better be in the pews of some church, preferably Baptist. The church I found was small, but it was obvious their efforts were directed to helping freshmen navigate through college life with a Christian hand for guidance and a place to call home away from home. During the first meeting, the freshmen were paired with third- and fourth-year students to create a family unit that served as an anchor for the new students. In addition to Sunday fellowship and Bible Study, we also did a “family camping trip” where we went whitewater rafting in Tennessee. I only kept in touch with one “sibling” through my college experience, but those family units inspired a desire to make the connections as I moved through college, after graduation, and through my professional careers.
In 2020, while locked in, due to stay-at-home orders and attempting to clean out old documents, I found my original written plans to create the support group and I thought, why not start with items of comfort: hoodies, t-shirts, and leggings (literally, my quarantine uniform)! I finally gathered up the courage to pursue this project and started designing. Again, due to COVID-19 and travel restrictions, I had to adjust from apparel to artwork and accessories, but the message is still the same. I want you to appreciate how amazing you are, how capable you are and to remember that you are not alone. As a person of African descent, living in the United States of America, I imagine our mental state to be like a cracking dam, held together with Band-Aids. We deal with everyday stressors, like traffic or expensive bills, but if you also consider the effects of racial trauma, microaggressions, gender bias, and colorism – and you realize how much weight we carry around. I figured I was managing this well enough and refusing to let these circumstances get to me, until I allowed myself to be vulnerable with other Black women and men to hear their experiences. These “heart-to-heart” conversations of struggles and successes granted such relief and reminded me of the importance of strengthening bonds within my community. That sense of community and my faith in God have together been the solid rock which has kept me grounded.
My hope is that, while you are shopping around, you can review the Mental Health Resources, find organizations that specialize in mental health, a reading list of books and articles, and even a Mental Health Wellness Plan that you can customize, depending on your need. If you are interested in joining the Amethyst family, I hope you join the Creative Corner: a virtual community for members to find an open-minded support group, where we can share our art, spoken word, and just a space in which to vent, with the common goal of uplifting and motivating one another.
I love the idea of surrounding myself with positivity and inspiring messages to remind myself to love, care, and celebrate myself. I hope you find these collections as the little reminders that you are absolutely amazing, and you have always been enough.
Grace E. Simmons