Milly / The Girl with a Patch for Your Heart
The first place where I noticed Milly was Instagram – the paradise of aesthetic and joyful life on a pink cloud. However, there she has created her own world full of skulls and denim – Straight Talk BN1. And the first place I met her was an amusement park – a bright and loud kingdom of kitsch and fun surrounded by laugh and excitement. And yet again, the topic of our conversation touched the dark side of our own.
by MONIKA SMILGYTE
photographer DARIUS MARKUNAS
For how long have you been residing in Lithuania? How did it happen that you decided to live in Vilnius?
It’s all about love! I arrived here from England to live with my boyfriend and I have spent two years here already. It seemed pretty exciting and interesting to live abroad for some time, so I chose to move here. Not so long ago I started taking Lithuanian classes, so one might guess that I will be staying here for a bit longer.
What is your style? What style does mean to you in general?
Well, while growing up in England, I was always inspired by various present subcultures. I took something from the New Romantics. But the strongest influences came from Punks as it is what I associate myself with the most. I love when people belonging to a pop culture testify this part of their lives in the way they dress. I could describe myself as being quite alternative also based on the music I listen to.
What is Straight Talk BN1? How should one decrypt it?
BN1 stands for the postcode of the street where I used to live in Brighton. Straight Talk covers the main aspects of my brand. It underlines the company of clothes production and also the mental health blog. Initially, I picked the name, because it sounded kind of punk - where my inspiration comes from. But it also worked out to present the mental health side, as I wanted to spread a message and to get people to talk straight to the point. And somehow it works for both sides of what I am engaged into now.
The clothing or the blog came first then? And when did it go live?
The clothing, actually, came first! It all began when after the university I moved to Brighton with an idea to create my own brand. From the very beginning, I knew it had to be handmade denim jackets and, thus, I started with a line of 6 jackets. Later, it expanded to patches and t-shirts. But then, I launched a blog functioning aside the company.
You offer a very outstanding collection of patches – why did you choose to create them?
I discovered this technique of linoleum printing – when you just carve your own designs. It’s also very easy to customise and fit individuality, make a statement and be unique.
It seems like you prefer making clothes of denim – is there any specific reason for it?
I just love denim – it’s so iconic and easy to wear. I like the idea of creating individual clothes designed just for a specific person instead of making thousands of identical looking ones. And even these days when denim is super popular, it still feels like being a strong fabric, which helps to make a statement of a personality rather than a temporary trend that you would wear just once.
This brand of clothing is related to your personal blog Straight Talk BN1 – what is the idea behind it?
I felt like writing posts about my own struggles with anxiety, mental health and suddenly it really picked me up. I noticed that this is something what people are usually secretly into and it felt like they actually want to start talking more openly about. So, it got me like “Hang on. I could be the one for them to break down the stigma.” So, first I wanted to create a place for people to come and talk online about what they can relate to. And helping out at least one person to solve his/ her mental health-related problems seemed worth a try. That was the time when I went to Pinterest and found a massive “mental health community” with whom I could share my experience on anxiety. And yeah, Pinterest is all about inspiration at first, but if only you start digging a bit deeper, you can find so much meaningful stuff there, believe me.
Not so many people feel comfortable talking about social anxiety – do you meet many of them?
Well, not in person, but there are people who write really nice comments under my posts about their own experiences or how I actually managed to help them out. However, in person, it is really hard to get someone to talk about this kind of thing. Of course, I can compare with my friends back in England who were more open about such sensitive topics. While people here in Lithuania tend to stay more silent about what troubles them.
Could you tell us, what was your case? What was your turning point that there is something wrong?
As for the most of us, I did not know what was wrong with me. As I recall, it was the second year at university. I just could not attend my classes – I don’t know why, but I just felt dread even when leaving my house. My chest felt really tight and as I didn’t know what is wrong with me, I went to the doctors. They scanned my heart and all they told me was: “There is nothing physically wrong with you. You can go home, you are fine”. But I felt that there is something more. So, I decided to clear out my head a bit – I found a new job and moved to live with my parents for a while. Then, I met some people with the same kind of thing and I was like “Oh, so I didn’t even know what anxiety was!” This was the reason to start my blog – to let others know that such a kind of thing exists and they don’t have to suffer it alone.
What would be your tips and recommendations for a person who could relate himself/ herself to social anxiety and/or depression? How to pull away from this state of mind?
From my own example, writing about it online helped me to get this fog out of my mind and out from my sensory system. What is more, it meant a lot to connect with other bloggers. Reading about their experiences and receiving their tips on how to deal with mental problems were very valuable and indeed helpful! Having in mind that mental health is different from physical illness, it’s not that simple just to go to the doctors and get it fixed. Many people don’t speak out because they don’t feel like there is something wrong with them. Most often it is simply ignored until the problem gets even worse. Feeling like sh*t and all alone starts to seem like a normal state.
So, if it feels too hard to talk about it loudly face-to-face, then you should be aware that it is also possible to find people who suffer from the same state of mind and who could help you to cope with it online. So, don’t be afraid to say that something is not OK. And don’t forget to use various self-care methods – I believe loving ourselves being one of the best trends ever!
Do you think that a person’s style and appearance could be a reflection of his emotional state, too?
You can take a look at me. My style could have developed as tough unconsciously trying to cover-up what is inside. As I remember myself, there was a time when I wore much more make-up, had a lot of different colours in my hair and it definitely was some kind of my own version of a personal mask. On the other hand, despite my looks, you can find me talking about very vulnerable and sensitive things online, where I am not trying to pretend that everything is perfect.
Is there a specific piece of clothing that can make you happy?
Yeah, actually, I have one. It’s my boots, I guess. Wearing big boots makes me feel more confident and more “myself” than just happy. And sometimes when you need to get yourself together, you just get dressed, put on your shoes and it helps to trigger that feeling “That’s me”.
Get to know more about Milly and her “no bullshit” life advice blog Straight Talk BN1 here.