When the pandemic began, many teens and college students felt themselves struggling. Jack, who was experiencing anxiety and some depression, was eager to help his peers who felt the same way.
So as a rising college junior in his dorm room, Jack created paintings and clothing designs that radiated happiness and broke the stigma surrounding mental health. The result was Happy Jack – a safe haven for youth who struggle with mental illness.
“Jack was searching for his purpose in life,” his mother Bradi Harrison said. “He was always very existential. It dawned on him that he could parlay his passion of painting and design into a business to help others. He simply said, “If I could just help one person, if even for a moment, then it will all be worth it.”
After Jack’s first week of merchandise sales, he donated a thousand dollars to the Child Mind Institute for mental health resources and vowed to “add more zeros to that number.” In order to help more youth, it was important to Jack that every dollar made through Happy Jack be donated to a mental health organization.
Jack died suddenly one month later, at the age of 19 unrelated to mental health issues.
Now, Jack’s parents – Bradi and David Nathan – are devoted to continuing their son’s legacy by running Happy Jack’s World – a lifestyle brand that embraces the idea that “It’s okay not to be okay.” With the help of his sister Drew and Happy Jack ambassadors who knew or were inspired by her son, the mission has continued to extend its reach with new clothing collections, a pop-up store, and messages of love, positivity, and mental health awareness on social media.
This May – which also marks Mental Health Awareness Month – Happy Jack is launching a new collection that focuses on the anxiety related process of overthinking called “The Cloud Connection.”
On the Happy Jack website, his parents write, “Jack was a survivor. Not a victim. He struggled, yes, but he persevered. So that’s what we ask of you. Persevere. For Jack, for us, and for the millions who wrestle with mental illness.”