Teen Entrepreneur Turns Mental Health Struggles into a Thriving Business and Advocacy for Gumboot Friday


Teen business idea

The increasing demand for youth counseling in New Zealand, which has surged by 500% over the past two years, underscores the pressing need for support in addressing mental health challenges among young people.

One Christchurch teenager, Amelie Coggan, has taken her personal journey with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and turned it into a thriving business aimed at helping others grappling with mental health issues while raising funds for the Gumboot Friday initiative.

Amelie’s own mental health odyssey began at the tender age of three when she experienced a disturbing nightmare. She vividly recalls, “I was walking through a wooden house, and there was a hand poking through a hole in the floor.”

Her parents even documented the dream in her baby books, and for the next six months, a towel had to be placed on the floor every night to soothe her anxieties. Yet, the nightmare was just the tip of the iceberg.

As she grew older, Amelie’s struggles with obsessive thoughts intensified. Everyday worries became all-consuming, affecting her relationships and daily life. She recalls, “It got to a point where I had to wake every person in my family, including my two-year-old sister, every night to make them promise I wouldn’t have a bad dream.”

Her diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive disorder finally came at the age of 15, accompanied by what she describes as “typical OCD symptoms.” For Amelie, the number nine became an obsession, dictating her actions. On a family ski trip, she had to clap her hands nine times each time she descended a slope, even though she despised skiing.

By the age of 16, her mental health had deteriorated to a point where she had to discontinue her education. Amelie reflects on the severity of her condition, saying, “It was debilitating. I couldn’t get out of bed… I just didn’t want to be here anymore. I was trapped in these, like, really intrusive thoughts of me dying and stuff.”

Amid the darkness, a glimmer of hope emerged. The handmade toys she had been creating, which she affectionately calls “Little Joys” today, became a source of solace and purpose. Amelie Coggan shares, “It gave me purpose.”

Amelie’s Business Idea Will Create Funds For Gumboot Friday

Fast forward two years, and Little Joys has blossomed into a thriving business, offering a wide range of wellness toys and trinkets. Notably, the success of her enterprise has paralleled her personal transformation.

Her toys, along with handwritten kindness letters, can be found in a mailbox at Christchurch’s Bottle Lake Forest, inspiring others to embrace moments of joy.

Driven by the desire to make a positive impact on the mental health landscape, Amelie Coggan is currently on a mission to raise funds for Gumboot Friday, an initiative aimed at making counseling services more accessible to those in need.

She emphasizes, “I was privileged enough to be able to access private counseling, but not everyone is, and that needs to change. It’s super important that we raise enough money through Gumboot Friday for everyone to be able to access counseling.”

Amelie’s journey from personal adversity to becoming a young entrepreneur advocating for mental health support serves as a powerful testament to resilience, compassion, and the positive impact that one individual can make in the lives of others.

Amelie Coggan’s story is a beacon of hope, shedding light on the importance of understanding, supporting, and providing accessible mental health resources to young people facing similar challenges.

As the demand for youth counseling in New Zealand continues to rise, Amelie’s initiative showcases the remarkable potential for positive change when individuals channel their struggles into creating support networks for others. Her dedication to raising awareness and funds for Gumboot Friday offers a ray of hope for those who may be suffering in silence.

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