Meet Paul Gerrard: founder of Happy Paul and Young Minds Partner interview
Monday 10th October 2022 is World Mental Health Day. Ahead of that we spoke with Paul Gerrard, founder of Happy Paul and Young Minds Partner
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and the journey that led you here.
I’m no stranger to the beauty industry. My formative years were spent in my parent’s hair and beauty salon, washing hair, sweeping floors, laying on sunbeds and soaking in the experience.
For the past two decades I’ve been immersed in beauty and wellbeing as the Brand Comms Director to Gerrard International – a business my parents had started in 1991, distributors for Jessica Nails and Mii Cosmetics.
But it hasn’t all been beauty and well-being for me.
I began my working life as a fresh faced Accountancy graduate, and after a brief stint and the realisation that accountancy, as it turns out, was not my life’s calling, I headed off instead to Adland as a creative. Having spent a decade working for the likes of Saatchi & Saatchi, JWT and Grey, I did what many smart advertising execs do and pivoted to client side, taking charge of Brand Comms at Gerrard International.
It was here that the idea for Happy Paul was hatched. An idea that would combine beauty with wellness with self-care. Having lived with depression since my early teens, I spent much of my life looking for something that was missing. What I discovered was that I was missing some purpose. I worked out that doing something to make others feel happier, made me feel happier. It was a win-win.
So I immersed myself in my work. Over the next few years I consulted and was guided by leading minds and beauty experts to create a self-care range that focussed on simply wanting to make people stop and breathe and smile. I believe that a smile represents the most accessible and basic form of wellness – even a forced one. Happy Paul, born at the latter end of 2021, aims to change an ‘all or nothing’ approach to wellness by creating products that encourage simple, rewarding acts of self-care and give a little smile to the end user.
Happy Paul offers a mood-lifting product range that aims to support a happy body and mind. How do you think self-care can positively impact our mental health?
Stopping to take stock is so important. Burnout has sadly become all too common throughout all sections of society. Burnout makes it near impossible to function, even to address the simple things that we so often take for granted. Caring for yourself both physically and mentally, can help strengthen a sense of self and make burnout far less likely.
If we care for ourselves, first and foremost, we become better equipped to care for others too. Self-care is not the same as being self-centred or selfish. It is completely necessary and deserved. It is about being empathetic to your own genuine needs.
Happy Paul is a charity partner with Young Minds – can you tell us a bit about their mission and why you decide to support this cause in particular?
Since my early teens I have suffered from depression and at times have felt extremely lost and alone. Now I have children and they have had their own challenges to overcome. My wife and I have had to navigate a particularly challenging period with one of my children but we are fortunate to have found the support needed.
I am grateful for this but recognise that there are many people who don’t know where to start or where to go. YoungMinds provide support in fighting for a world in which young people don’t have to suffer.
Before Happy Paul I was introduced, by a friend, to the CEO of YoungMinds.
I was just exploring ideas and wanted to know how I may be of any use to the charity. It became blatantly obvious that what they needed more than anything was money (of which I had little) and volunteers (of which I could give a little).
The seed for Happy Paul came shortly after that meeting and so did my want to find out more about the charity. I felt that the best way to do this was to work with them. I volunteered for the parents and carers helpline. They trained me and set me loose to help those in need. The team are incredible. I felt so supported in my role to support others.
There are so many credible mental health charities doing amazing things, not just changing lives but saving lives too. I firmly believe that in order to slow and even reverse this mental health crisis we must tackle the challenges at a grass roots level – in schools, nurseries, through policy etc. This is where YoungMinds excel. They want to create a future where all young people get the mental health support they need, when they need it, no matter what.
You’re also an Ambassador for Global Wellness Day – can you tell us a bit about the project and what inspired you to get involved?
Global Wellness Day was started 11 years ago by Belgin Aksoy in Turkey.
To put it simply, it’s a day you dedicate to wellness. The day is about concentrating on the simple things and spreading the message about self-care. I think in recent years wellness has grown an association with being a luxury commodity and being inaccessible. “Global Wellness Day really brings wellness back to the masses, sharing all the different areas of wellness that people around the world can tap into. For me, Global Wellness Day is not just one day, it is a marker for the rest of the year that shows how you may incorporate a little wellness into your daily life.
What would be the best way for our readers to get involved with any of these initiatives?
Follow our GWD UK Instagram @globalwellnessday_uk
Or visit globalwellnessday.org for lots and lots of information and ideas how you may get involved.
Follow YoungMinds on Instagram @youngmindsuk or visit youngminds.org.uk for information, events and ways you may support.
This World Mental Health Day, what advice do you have for someone who is suffering or knows someone who is?
No-one deserves to suffer.
Seek help or offer help.
Asking for help is the first stage to recovery.
Be kind to yourself and give yourself what you need right now.
What do you wish there was more of in the world?
This question is the easiest to answer.
Smiles. Lots more smiles.