It’s Mental Health Month, so what better time than now to sit down with the founder of Gold Coast brand LIVIN, Casey Lyons, and talk all things business, mental health and changing the world.
What was your inspiration to start your own business?
LIVIN evolved after the death of my best mate, Dwayne Lally, who like too many others took his life at only 25, after living in silence from a mental illness. Initially Sam Webb and I designed T-shirts to sell at Dwayne’s funeral with the intention to raise funds to help Dwayne’s family cover costs.
When we visited Dwayne’s parents to give them the money we had raised, they encouraged us to keep funds to start a charity in Dwayne’s honour and continue our work trying to help prevent other young people from taking their lives.
We have worked tirelessly over the past 7 years to build LIVIN and to reach as many young Australians as we can with our core message – it ain’t weak to speak. We need to normalise that conversation, and how to access support, and feel comfortable in accessing support
When did you know the timing was ‘right’?
LIVIN initially started with selling merchandise to raise funds for mental health programs. Processing the orders, and packaging the shipments started in my garage and mum’s kitchen, I was packing and sending off orders till midnight, while still working full time as a carpenter. Seven years on and, LIVIN is now a national charity, raising funds to redirect into free education programs in schools.
I knew it was time to quit my day job when my boss at the time pulled me aside and had a heart to heart, we spoke through how as long as I was trying to do both, one would suffer. He told me if LIVIN didn’t work out I’d always have a job with him, he was very supportive of what we were doing, and still is to this day.
How did you make your big break?
So many incremental milestones come to mind; the first time I saw someone wearing LIVIN merchandise who I didn’t know, and Chris Hemsworth rocking a LIVIN hoodie on the set of Thor in 2016 was amazing. Orders started pouring in. It was the catalyst to take LIVIN to the next level and allow us to help so many more young people across Australia. We can’t thank Chris enough for his continual support, as well as all of our amazing LIVIN ambassadors who regularly rep our merchandise and share our vision to break the stigma around mental health.
There is still an ongoing stigma around mental health and seeking support. Until people know who we are and understand it ain’t weak to speak, and we can normalise the conversation around mental health and suicide prevention in this country, we haven’t made our big break, and will continue to work towards it and continue to educate people
What was your training prior to starting your own business?
I started my career as a builder before LIVIN. In the early days it was definitely a learning curve, and my mental health literacy back then was not what it is today. We experienced all the ups and downs, the late nights and early mornings, but I wouldn’t change a thing. Every day is still a learning experience and it always will be.
What are the biggest challenges of being a parent and a business owner?
My daughter is one of the best models I’ve worked with for the merchandise. My amazing wife Amy also works at LIVIN, so it is a juggling act, but the whole LIVIN team has become a family. I couldn’t have better people around me to support LIVIN but also represent the brand and our #itaintweaktospeak mantra.
One of the hardest things about being a business owner and a parent, especially with young children, is the constant juggling act along with sleepless nights. But I’ve found it’s very important to prioritise what matters, and prioritise self-care, you can’t support those around you if you aren’t in the best place mentally yourself.
Being in the mental health space we understand better than anyone, that a work life balance and taking time to be with your family, or even just having a break to unwind is necessary, and we encourage that too, with flexible working, and a supportive environment, but understandably it can be hard to do this when there is a job to do, but self-care is so important.
What is your top tip for maintaining a work/life balance?
Learning to devote your time to where it’s needed at the appropriate time is my top tip. I like to do this with schedules and structure in place. Everything in my day that’s going on, no matter how simple it is, goes into my calendar, so I can see it and once it’s in there I’m accountable to it.
Learning to say no is also critical, especially when it helps prioritise yourself, your loved ones, or the things that make you happy
What is your biggest learning since starting your own business? Is there anything you’d do differently?
I would have defined our systems and processes more thoroughly from the start. I believe it is important to do as much as possible early on to get things off the ground etc. but its important to learn to say no to those things that make you burn the candle at both ends; the things that long term aren’t sustainable.
What do you do in your spare time to keep yourself sane?
I have plenty of work to do fixing fences on a rural property we have just bought, 40 minutes from the Gold Coast. And outside of that and LIVIN my time is split between the beach, time with my family and friends, golf, and burgers.
What’s one thing other people should do who are looking to start their own business?
Have a plan, and passion for the business as you will be spending a lot of hours working in your business especially at the beginning. And choose people who have the same values as yours as they will be your most valuable asset.
A question we ask ourselves every time we go do something is, what am I trying to achieve here? Is anyone currently doing this? Can I do it better?
Finish this sentence: I can’t get through a workday without…
Checking my emails, with coffee in hand!