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Stephenville woman helping stop the stigma through her business

Jennifer O’Quinn of Stephenville continues to keep the conversation about mental health going through her business Display Rules.
Jennifer O’Quinn of Stephenville continues to keep the conversation about mental health going through her business Display Rules. - Frank Gale

It’s not been an easy go for Jennifer O’Quinn, what with attending university and dealing with mental health struggles for some time now.

To ease the tension, she’s been writing an online blog for about four years to not only express her own feelings about what was going on but find a way for other people to share their stories on the issue.

It all resulted in her starting a business called “Display Rules,” which started off featuring T-shirts with messages related to mental health and through it starting conversations about the topic and hopefully someday stopping the stigma related to it.

This business started in St. John’s, where she was attending university, back in February of this year and is still going strong.

Home on Christmas vacation with her parents Gertie and Brian O’Quinn she continues with her sales and set up shop in the supportive Killick Café at the end of Main Street in Stephenville on Thursday afternoon, into the evening.

Sales were brisk and it’s clear people in her hometown realize how serious this subject of mental health is because of the lineup to purchase her merchandise that in addition to T-shirts includes: sweatshirts, calming herbal teas, bath balms, tote bags and tea cups.

“It’s all about getting the message across and as usual 20 per cent of my sales go towards a charity,” she said. “My first donation will be to a mental health organization here on the west coast.”

O’Quinn has completed a four-year program in Bachelor of Business Administration but said it hasn’t come easy.

She struggles with her concentration in class and it was difficult studying at home, but she said it really feels good now to have it done.

“I still have tough days where it’s hard to get out of bed, but the good part is that those type of days are dwindling,” O’Quinn said.

She credits a couple of good friends, Alex Massie and Claire Lambert, with keeping her on track during her university years.

In addition to that she has learned a lot of self-care to help her get on the mend.

She said the best message she could give to others battling mental health issues is the one that’s restated: “Talk about it.”

In November, O’Quinn attended a business competition called the Global Student Entrepreneurship Award and won for the Atlantic region. In January she will get to attend the national competition being held in British Columbia.

She will return to St. John’s in the New Year and running her online store from there, where people from around the world can buy her mental illness inspired clothing.

O’Quinn also plans to do more public speaking engagements “to continue the conversation.”

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