Even with the pain and suffering of our brothers and sisters, police brutality and racial injustice, there is still a way to find beauty in disruption and that is exactly what MahSol Stationery founder Mahogany Waldon has done with her stationery company. This Black woman-owned brand was conceived in the hopes of inspiring people of color through the healing power of writing and creativity, which could not be more timely considering the circumstances in the Black community.
While the hard-hitting news cycle may not have a silver lining, MalSol Stationery is giving people of color the opportunity to do so on their own. HelloBeautiful had the opportunity to speak with Waldon about her passion for writing, the impact of the Black Lives Matter movement on her stationery company and viewing art and writing as a method of healing.
The Hampton, VA native’s interest in stationery and writing came along far before she was born, but now deems it as her primary method of rest, relaxation and escape. “My mom kept a lot of journals around the house and was a lover of stationery long before I was born. I remember being little and finding the diaries of my older siblings around the house. So naturally, I began keeping diaries. Then, I noticed I was really good at writing poetry,” Waldon told HelloBeautiful.
Waldon went on to win several youth poetry contests and had one of her original poems published as a middle school student. Fast forward to her high school years, she knew that integrating writing into her long-term career goals was not an option for her, thus prompting her to pursue communications and journalism while in college.
“Everything I do revolves around writing so that’s what really sparked my interest in stationery. Even now, I keep journals and pens nearby in my purse or on my nightstand. I always thought that stationery was so interesting. I love good pens and quality paper products,” Waldon told HelloBeautiful about her interest in stationery from a young age. “I was raised to be a little old fashioned too, so I still send greeting cards in the mail! I love all things paper – books, writing utensils, journals – you name it.”
Waldon told HelloBeautiful that she recognizes the healing powers of art, writing and stationery and how mental wellness goes hand-in-hand. “In psychotherapy, art and writing is used to help others to process what’s going on with their psychological well-being,” she explained. When she first began therapy, she was tasked with writing assignments to understand her triggers, cope with my anxiety and reframe my state of mind. Though initially expressing your feelings or emotions can be a bit difficult, especially when from a stigmatized community of color, Waldon found a method of expression that worked best for her without using verbal communication.
“Creative avenues like art and writing are extremely expressive and even if it’s writing a poem or a diary entry or painting a picture, these hobbies can offer great relief. Mental wellness goes hand-in-hand with overall wellness and any form of creative expression can be a method of healing,” she continued to HelloBeautiful.
The MahSol Stationery founder and owner has always been locally involved in her Hampton hometown when it comes down to the social justice movements. While temporarily living in Brooklyn, New York City towards the beginning of the year, she witnessed the brutal, heartbreaking protests and rallying that took place as a result of the killing of George Floyd, which later turned into trampling and violent arrests by the New York City Police Department.
“As soon as I moved there, the city was being shut down due to COVID-19 and I was working a job that was in a lot of ways a toxic work environment. I was extremely overwhelmed. On top of that, a few months later, the world watched the death of George Floyd. I had just been fired from the aforementioned job and was really confused about life. I remember attending a few protests because I’d always been civically and socially engaged. What I saw was traumatizing. People were thrown to the ground and violently arrested by NYPD. People were taunted on the streets by the police. Black men and women were fighting once again for their humanity and I was watching it firsthand,” the Norfolk State University graduate recalled of the horrific chain of events.
“That’s when the idea came to me, one that I always had, but never acted on. I wanted to create a business where I could leverage my love for writing (which has also been a medium for my own healing) to inspire other people of color to heal. Journaling our thoughts is a great way to process our traumas and I wanted to introduce journaling and stationery to other people as a way to enrich their lives, but as a way to also help them to cope. That was the inspiration behind MahSol Stationery.”
Though the world is in the middle of two Earth-shaking pandemics — a second wave of COVID-19 and combating police brutality and systemic racism — Mahogany admitted to HelloBeautiful that everything that has been happening to and within the Black community has been a beneficiary source for MahSol Stationery. “In full transparency, the recent events in the Black community have impacted my company for the better. My company’s mission is to be an inspiration to the Black community. So, the recent events have allowed me to position my company as a beacon for those looking for an outlet. People of color enjoy my products and what I do because they see themselves in my brand. When they make a purchase, they do so in confidence knowing that I’m someone that they don’t have to question. Many Black people are becoming distrusting of brands because we’ve become a PR stunt for many corporations. Black people, now more than we have in a long time, are taking the Black dollar very seriously,” she told HelloBeautiful about the support that the Black community has shown her; and indeed they have.
Her stationery company sold out of her popular pens the day of her launch and Waldon believes that when Black women see her company, they are inspired to better themselves in ways they have not before. In addition to the pens, Waldon has stickers and journals available and is adding additional items like greeting cards to her shop; every item features popular slogans, song lyrics and sayings made popular by Black culture. “My people are empowered to rethink what healing means,” Waldon said to HelloBeautiful about her customer demographic and what makes her products so successful. Her wellness/financial journals include monthly budgeting tactics and “feeling wheels” to help Black women improve and manage their finances and wellness practices, especially in light of recent racial and social unrest and the current state of the economy with furloughs and unemployment.
“We don’t often talk about healing, especially as it relates to topics like finances and spirituality. Black women are empowered when they see my brand because I keep it real, I address what’s hard to speak on and they resonate with it. I believe that my brand empowers other Black women to want to create other revenue streams for themselves. I’m not afraid to tell my audience that I got fired from my corporate job in the big city that was supposed to be my ‘American dream.’ Black women hear my story and decide that if I can do it, they can, too!,” she said powerfully about her triumphant journey throughout the past few months.
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