By Chris Gionta
Springfield College first-year Jamie Albrecht was in – what she described as – a “hole.” It began with a hardship that was occurring within her family.
“My aunt ended up getting COVID really bad,” Albrecht said. “She was in the ICU – it was just not a really good time for me and my family.”
It was happening in the dead of winter of 2021-22, with the daylight ending at its earliest and the temperatures at their coldest. Albrecht was also in between fall and spring seasons with the women’s volleyball team, which got her out of the routine of regularly being with her teammates.
She was not in a good mental place, and things started to spiral.
“My grades started slipping. I wasn’t in spring season yet, so that was very difficult. The weather was terrible,” Albrecht said. “It was just a domino effect and it felt like I couldn’t get back out of where I was.”
Luckily, she had people by her side to provide moral support.
“My mom– I would talk to almost every day [saying] ‘I can’t do this, I want to come home,’” Albrecht said. “And she would help me reset my mind and be like ‘It’s okay, just take it day-by-day.’”
She was also able to go to someone important to her on campus who serves as a symbol of leadership.
“[Someone who helped me was] my volleyball coach Moira Long here,” Albrecht said. “I would go to her office almost every other day during spring semester just crying and asking her what I should do, and seeing what she can do to help me.”
As her spring season arrived and the weather got better, so did Albrecht.
“I got to see my teammates more often, we went to lift more often,” Albrecht said. “So, I was finally forced to get out of my room and forced to do things with people.”
She ended her first year on a higher note, spending more time with her team as well as improving the grades that were once slipping.
Heading into the summer break, Albrecht determined she wanted to spread a positive message across campus. She felt a responsibility to help people who may have been going through similar struggles.
“When I got home for summer break, I was like, ‘Well, maybe I could do something with this –put my feelings out and let people know they’re not alone,” Albrecht said.
The next step was deciding the type of platform her idea would purvey itself.
“I started just brainstorming what I could do – if it was making posters with positive words on it or bracelets,” Albrecht said.
Finally, she figured that her message was not going to be hard to miss.
“I finally came to the [realization] – I love wearing sweatshirts and I know everyone else loves wearing sweatshirts and comfy clothes,” she said.
Additionally, her father’s best friend’s wife owns an embroidery shop, which made the process for producing sweatshirts easier. As Albrecht worked with the shop, she was creating designs for what she wanted.
Ultimately, she decided to sell the sweatshirts in multiple colors: tan, pink, and dark green. The front of each shirt displays the word “mind” with a horizontal line below it and the word “matter” under that – the message being “mind over matter.” The back of the sweatshirt says — with one word on top of the other – “happy mind happy life.”
In the process of creating the brand, there was an important person by her side helping the process.
“My dad really helped me get it on track, figuring out what I wanted to do, what colors, and what I wanted to name it,” Albrecht said.
Once the sweatshirts were made, they were distributed quickly.
“I got them two weeks before I got back for preseason, and with the mass order, I was completely sold out from my team and some of my friends from college,” Albrecht said.
This semester, students sporting shirts with a positive message for mental health have been a common sight across campus. However, Albrecht went into the creative process knowing there was no guarantee that her idea would show such immediate impact.
“I never thought I would be able to make it on campus with this,” Albrecht said. “I thought it was just going to be a summer thing, an idea, a dream.”
Witnessing her message be conveyed by so many on Alden Street is something she does not take lightly.
“Seeing my stuff [on campus] — there’s no greater feeling — it’s a lot, and it’s wonderful,” Albrecht said.
For more information on her brand, go to @mind_over_matter_official on Instagram.
Photo: Mind Over Matter Instagram