9to9 Selfcare with Mimmi, Founder at By Van Der Crussen
Meet Mimmi van der Crussen, designer and founder at the new sustainable clothing brand - By Van Der Crussen.
I met Mimmi through the Power Ladies after-work and again at a HER drinks. I instantly warmed up to her, to her story, and to her passion for her brand and its mission. Kind and determined, poised and passionate - her personal journey and the story of By Van der Crussen are deeply intertwined. In adolescence, she was treated as ‘waste’ and started believing that of herself — that she was ‘waste’. Instead of being supported, her ways of expressing herself were discouraged and beaten down. Through a remarkable personal journey she is now flourishing and her brand is about changing perspectives: how something treated as waste (her stunning pieces are made from surplus material from furniture factories) can become valuable. Her message is incredible. It’s about helping, inspiring and encouraging one another to be themselves.
And if you are anything like me - this interview will deeply move you and encourage you to seek meaning and love for yourself. This one is a longer one, but oh boy it is worth every word. So flag it, send it, share it - you will love it!
Now time for 9to9 Selfcare with Mimmi.
Self care = ?
The way I see it, self love is something that we all have deep inside ourselves. And if we can connect to this love, then self care becomes a natural thing to prioritize. To be able to love myself I must get to know myself. But that isn’t so easy when you get bombarded with input and stimuli through social media, advertising and what not. I am constantly reminded of what other people love, like or dislike about myself (and about people in general). But what do I love, like or dislike about myself? The challenge lies in cutting through all the layers of fear, and ingrained patterns of thought and prejudices. Most of my self care practices revolve around nourishing my body and mind. Spending time in nature, cooking and eating healthy food, exercising, meditating and creating things (sketching, sewing, writing) are favorites. But if I had a bathtub it would top the list!
Are rituals and routines important to you?
I think rituals, routines and habits are very interesting. Over the last couple of years I’ve replaced many of my old ones with thought-trough and truly energizing routines. Instead of jumping straight from the bed to my phone with a black cup of coffee; I now start the day with a breathing session. I use a similar technique to the Wim Hof Method, and for every conscious breath I take, I connect more and more with the energy that lives within me. It’s like I’m waking up the body, and ride the natural wave of life energy — which is far more powerful than a caffeine based! :) I end the breathing session with a meditation, and smile and thank myself for taking the time to start my day in a positive way. Not that long ago I would probably have laughed and discarded this little ritual as quite foolish, but my longing for change (+research and curiosity), brought me to try something new. No matter how uncomfortable and hard it was in the beginning (and still is some days), I’m happy I did, because I’ve noticed that this last little practice of thankfulness helps me notice other things to be thankful for throughout the day. This change also makes me question how my old routines did affect me. What if scrolling through social media before breakfast instilled an ‘unhealthy’ take on the day? Did it condition me to notice and focus on how others looked or what they could be thinking of me?
What's your safe place?
This may sound contradicting, but I’ve learned that uncomfortable experiences often brings great comfort. It has something to do with fear. Adding safety to my safe place, or comfort to my comfort zone, doesn't work for me. I need to step out of what’s comfortable, challenge my fears and in doing so - I get to understand that my safe place is big. The more I practice this the bigger it gets. And the bigger it gets the freer I feel! The feeling of having the whole world and my whole life open for me to explore and enjoy fires me up and makes every day better. If I really want to re-energize instantly, I grab a towel and run as fast as I can to a lake. I practice my WHM breathing and then slowly endure the uncomfortable feeling of being immersed in ice cold water. Blood is rushing, thoughts in my head disappear and every cell in my body awakens — I become present to the moment and it sure no doubt makes a shitty day better. But of course, sometimes I’ll just make my day a little better by adding an extra spoon of honey to my cup of tea and enjoy it in front of the fireplace. :)
What is your self care commitment to yourself?
Always ‘check in’! Just like I need to stay in touch with friends to maintain a strong relationship, I need to stay in touch with myself. So, I have a date with myself in a flotation tank at least once a month. This is the most important tool I use to cultivate my inner wellbeing. Floating Oslo has played a major role in me being able to develop a steady relationship to myself. From having spent over a hundred hours in the tank, I’ve learned a lot about myself. I’ve built up a strength and belief in me that I’m not so sure could’ve come from the outside. I highly recommend it! The breathing techniques every morning is also a way for me to connect with myself.
How defined are you by a mindful practice?
Part of the breathing session I do in the morning is meditation. I find it much easier to meditate after conscious breathing, than without. I also write a lot. I often scribble random reflections in the notebook I always carry. Later, when reading it in another mood or context, I can interpret it differently and write a more defined text based on those initial thoughts. This helps me clarify my beliefs and understandings — my mind. With my gratitude morning practice, I notice more things to be thankful for throughout the day. So every time I do feel great gratification I try to embrace it and make it bigger than it may appear in the moment. Writing about, and expressing thankfulness makes me more mindful of how much there is to be thankful for.
How would you describe your relationship to food?
One of my brothers recently introduced a new word to me, which I find descriptive of what I don’t consider myself to be: ‘smaklöksslav’ — a slave to the taste buds. Primarily, I eat food to energize and fuel up my body and mind. Then, of course, I try to do this as tastefully as possible. I also care for the environment and animal rights. Therefore, plant-based food is the way to go for me! This year I’m actually celebrating my 20th year without any industrialized meat in my diet - Hurray!
What relationship do you have with exercise and movement?
I’ve always enjoyed going for a run, but I don’t think I’ve ever really understood the importance of exercise, until recently. When I struggled with depression, anxiety and sleeping problems; the doctors recommended a cocktail of medications. I saw this as a short-term solution. As I was searching for a long term- more beneficial solution I came across a medical documentary on BBC One called “The Doctor Who Gave Up Drugs”. Essentially: exercise can be a painkiller. I questioned myself whether I wanted to sit back with my painkillers and watch life happen to me, or if I wanted to take charge and create my own life story. I chose the latter and got to experience a great sense of mastery. I also felt an obvious difference from killing pain with exercise instead of medication. I got a clear mind. It’s no secret that antidepressants are designed to numb the depressive feelings. But it also numbs all other feelings, leaving me in a mental fog, feeling quite listless. But what does numbing the feelings really help for? If I were to break my arm, no doctor would numb my feelings of pain without healing the fracture. I believe the pain occurs to let us know that there is a wound that needs to be healed. It’s like how lobsters grow: they are soft animals living in a hard shell. The shell doesn't grow, so when the lobster becomes too big for its shell it experiences great pain. Discomfort. A life crisis. So it hides under the rocks, crawls out of its shell and while being really vulnerable, it starts to build a bigger shell in which the lobster can grow. I love this as a metaphor for how we should view anxiety and depression!
Hehe, spinning off topic a little, but I’m super engaged in this matter :) And after having read the book “The Real Happy Pill: Power Up Your Brain by Moving Your Body” written by Swedish physician and psychiatry specialist, Anders Hansen, I feel I am now more dedicated to my relationship with exercise and movement.
Does the thought of losing control ever scare you?
I used to have a stable job, a stable relationship and my career was looking bright. I felt I had a lot of control. In hindsight I can see that I built fear of losing it all because I was clinging harder and harder. I was fully leaning onto this external construction of safety and comfort. Then, a couple of years ago I hit a major turning point when that construction started to crack and soon after collapsed completely. I had to give up my sense of ‘having control’. I have since realized that when I was dependent on external conditions, my safety and comfort could be taken away at any point. This lesson thoroughly high-fived me in the face! Learning to live "without control" has shifted my focus inwards and this is where I’m finding real and sustainable safety and comfort. Nowadays, it feels like I’m not controlling anything but rather designing everything. Wow, in that sense I actually have real control now.. And here comes the fear again!! Haha
'Digital detox days' yay or nay?
To my point about checking-in with myself and nurturing the relationship with myself. I think we can all agree that it would be exhausting to be social all the time. Like, I wouldn't want 10 people in my bathroom or a hundred in my living room — constantly. So I think it is obvious that we also need those days and moments without social media. But that is not to say it’s easy. Far from it! I face a lot of fear of missing out and fear of loneliness, but the more I focus on my journey instead of focusing on others, the fear diminishes. My remedy: all notifications are turned off. I am also lucky to be able to visit my parents home on a tiny island in the Swedish archipelago. Being there, surrounded by beautiful nature, I feel that the world is missing out on what I’m experiencing rather than me missing out on what’s happening in the world!
The podcasts that make life a little happier?
I mostly listen to conversations about big topics like humanity, consciousness, masculinity and femininity and all sorts of Science. There are four people I think are hosting interesting guests and present great deep conversations in their podcasts: Joe Rogan, Tim Ferriss, Sam Harris and Aubrey Marcus. The podcast that brings me the most instant happiness, inspiration and motivation though, is Power Ladies Podcast — of course! This is the podcast that inspired me to actually start this brand. So, I’m beyond happy to announce that the host of the podcast, Yrja Oftedahl, will be a part of my launch in May.
Thank you so much to Mimmi!
Launch date of By Van Der Crussen is May 25th and will be open for everyone, so stay tuned at @byvandercrussen for location!
Interview by Evodie