Taylor Jackson, a fourth-year Bachelor of Design student, has launched Press Pause - a start-up that focuses on youth mental health and wellness. As a student who faces everyday feelings of stress and anxiety, Jackson said she is uniquely positioned as the product’s spokesperson as well as its target audience.
With the help of Conestoga's Venture Lab, fourth-year Bachelor of Design student Taylor Jackson has launched Press Pause - a start-up that focuses on youth mental health and wellness.
“All my friends were stressed out and I wondered what I could do to help the people around me. I care a lot about mental health - and it’s something we talk about a lot in my family - so this is where that idea came from of pressing pause and finding your calm,” explained Jackson.
She began work on Press Pause in her second-year Studio course where she was tasked with building a creative brief to submit to the Association of Registered Graphic Designers as part of its student awards competition. Jackson developed a print submission for the Social Good award which is judged on its value to the community and how it solves local or global challenges.
After researching mental wellness, the types of tools currently available, design features like accessibility and colour psychology, and extensively interviewing her peers, Jackson completed a rough first draft of Press Pause: a print material mental wellness self-help kit that takes individuals away from the noise of the online space to focus on their mental wellness through journaling, cognitive behavioural therapy tools, positive thinking exercises, reflection and planning for the future.
“When I had to find a co-op placement in a pandemic I didn’t know where to turn,” said Jackson. “I heard about the Venture Lab at Conestoga and applied with a few ideas. Press Pause was the one that I felt most strongly about and the mentors agreed. Through the lab I was able to take my project and develop it into a business.”
The Venture Lab, the college’s own business incubator, is part of the Conestoga Entrepreneurship Collective (CEC) and designed to support the development of early-stage start-ups. The program includes four months of one-on-one coaching with a venture coach, a customized development road map for each company, workshops and targeted sessions with subject matter experts and access to industry mentors as well as college and community new venture development resources.
CEC venture coach Kris Ronan said Jackson’s drive and connection to the pressures and challenges that students face helped her stand out when she pitched her business idea to the lab.
“It was nice for us to see somebody who had a passion for the topic - who was experiencing it in real time among her peers - and decided to do something about it that wasn’t app based,” said Ronan. “When we looked at the product and the person behind it, we really thought there was something there.”
Through her research, Jackson found that half the Canadian population will identify as having suffered from a mental health problem by the age of 40, and half of that group will not get help or talk about the problem. When it comes to Canadian post-secondary students, one-fifth have admitted to battling a mental health issue which is up eight per cent from 2013.
Press Pause works by providing individuals with a set of evidence-based tools to help improve their mental wellness while providing directions to further resources if needed. The kit has been reviewed and validated by health-care workers.
Jackson has secured an order with Conestoga for delivery of more than 9,000 kits for distribution to first-year students, and her long-term plans include marketing Press Pause to post-secondary institutions across the province.
Press Pause was also recognized with a $2,000 second-place win at the college’s Pitch Day competition on October 28 where Jackson pitched her business to an external judging panel that included local business leaders.
Press Pause kits are available for sale online. For more information, visit www.press-pause.ca.
The Conestoga Entrepreneurship Collective empowers and inspires students and alumni to successfully participate in the Waterloo Region entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem by providing multiple pathways for engagement that include developing a new business, becoming a corporate innovator and providing support systems to the ecosystem.