5 Years in the Making: The Story Behind the Among the Greatest Collection

The Story Behind I&I Outfitters: 

In 2016, I started a brand on Instagram to raise awareness about mental health. I called it "I&I Outfitters," with the tagline, "In the darkness I am, in the light I am."

At the time, I had no idea what I was getting into. I knew I wanted to create something tangible that people could feel proud of and excited to share with their family and friends, something that made the conversation surrounding mental illness much more approachable and less intimidating, less embarrassing.

I started a community on social media, openly sharing my experiences with anxiety and depression. In the process of this, I began to realize the very thing I had been hiding from others, out of fear that I'd be judged or ridiculed, was the very thing that connected me to those around me.

And the more I shared, the more I realized I wasn't alone, that a lot of people felt like there wasn’t a safe, non-judgmental place to have these conversations. I wanted to create that space.

In the past 5 years, I’ve had the desire to grow this idea into a global community, but I had to walk away from it multiple times, ironically, to focus on my mental health.

All the while, I kept telling myself that I would soon come back to this concept, when I was capable, and I would create something that we could all share in, together. After my close friend AJ took his life in February of 2021, I knew I needed to bring this back.

The Among the Greatest Collection features a list of 20 famous figures throughout history that have various mental illnesses. From anxiety to addiction and depression, these artists, musicians, actors, writers, philosophers, poets, scientists and athletes have accomplished amazing things, in spite of, and inspired by the challenges they face. If you have a mental illness, you are not alone. You’re one of many, among the greatest.

One day we will live in a world where acknowledging the depths of our humanity will be honored, explored, and generously encouraged. It will take many of us deciding to speak up and share our experiences openly before this narrative will shift. Until that day is here, we will keep showing up. With your help, we can make a difference.

In researching these 20 people I found it very difficult to represent certain ethnicities and backgrounds, which highlights just how stigmatized mental health it can be in certain cultures and conversations around the world.

I did my best to craft a list of people that represented a majority of the major types of illnesses, from different races, backgrounds, sexual orientations, nationalities, ages, and artistries. If you have any suggestions for additions, I’m open to all feedback.

It’s my hope that this piece of clothing can be a conversation starter that enables us to understand that mental illness isn’t a character flaw, that we can do amazing things despite and because of the challenges we are faced with.

On average, 1 in 5 adults experiences mental illness in their lifetimes, but 5 in 5 humans have mental health. Let's start making it easier and less intimidating to talk about.

What I’ve realized throughout this process in sharing my story, is that a lot of the stigma surrounding mental health is internalized. One of the keys to undoing that is to speak up about it and share our truth. That’s why I created I&I Outfitters.

Thanks for reading & I look forward to continuing on this journey with all of you 🙂

Founder | I&I Outfitters

Meet the People Behind the Among the Greatest Collection

Kendrick Lamar Rapper, Songwriter
Anxiety, Suicidal Thoughts
Kendrick Lamar Opens Up About Depression & Suicidal Thoughts 
Video: Kendrick Lamar Talking About Depression

Demi Lovato Actress, Singer
Bipolar Disorder, Bulimia, Cutting, Suicide Attempt 
Dancing with the Devil Documentary
Demi Lovato Talks About Mental Health Reform

Cara Delevingne Actress, Model, Writer
Anxiety, Depression, Suicidal Thoughts
Cara Delevingne Opens Up About Depression
On Battling Depression & Suicidal Thoughts as a Teenager

Francisco Goya Painter, Artist

Brandon Marshall NFL Athlete
Borderline Personality Disorder
NFL Wide Receiver Talks Borderline Personality Disorder
Brandon Marshall NFL Mental Health Awareness

Kevin Love NBA Athlete
Panic Attacks, Anxiety 
Everyone is Going Through Something
Why It's a Huge Deal When Male Athletes Talk About Therapy

Val Resh Artist, Activist, Writer
Looking at the World Through the Eyes of a Schizophrenic 
Ted Talk: Madness: The World Has it All Wrong 

Temple Grandin Scientist, Professor, Autism Activist
Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Depression 
The World Needs All Kinds of Minds
About Temple Grandin

Logic Songwriter, Record Producer
Anxiety, Depression, Derealization
Logic Talks Suicide Prevention and Coping with Anxiety
Logic Talk Battling Anxiety: "It was the worst year of my life."

Abby Wambach Soccer Athlete, Olympic Gold Medalist
Depression, Substance Abuse Disorder 
Abby Wambach Reflects on Addiction
Abby Wambach Shares Her Addiction Battle

Gabourey Sidibe Actress, Author
Depression, Bulimia, Anxiety, Suicidal Thoughts 
Gabourey's Mom Laughed When She Said She Was Depressed
Gabourey Sidibe Reveals Battle with Bulimia & Suicidal Thoughts

DeMar DeRozan NBA Athlete
Depression, Anxiety 
DeMar DeRozan Discusses Depression & Personal Struggles
Mental Health: The Human Side of DeMar DeRozan

Carrie Fisher Actress, Screenwriter, Writer 
Bipolar Disorder, Substance Abuse Disorder
How Carrie Fisher Championed Mental Health
I'm Bipolar: How Do You Feel About Mental Illness?
Carrie Fisher Opens Up About Her Demons

Dale Chihuly Glass Sculptor, Artist, Entrepreneur
Bipolar Disorder, Depression 
At 75 Dale Chihuly Discusses Struggles with Mental Health 
Glass Artist Dale Chihuly Opens Up About Mental Health Struggles

Yayoi Kusama Artist, Painter, Sculptor, Poet
Anxiety, Depression, Hallucinations 
Artist Describes How Art Saved Her Life
Yayoi Kusama by Grady T. Turner

Frida Kahlo Artist, Painter
Depression, Suicidal Thoughts 
The Life, Art, and Mental Illness of Frida Kahlo
Self Portraits of a Struggle with Addiction

Dwane 'The Rock' Johnson Actor, Producer, Investor
The Rock Opens Up About Seeking Help for Depression
Dwayne Johnson Opens Up About His Battle With Depression

John Fobes Nash Mathematician, Economist 
Living with Schizophrenia: John Nash

Lady Gaga Singer, Songwriter, Actress
PTSD, Chronic Pain, Disassociation, Anxiety, Depression 
A Personal Letter from Gaga About Mental Health
Lady Gaga Talks About Depression & Anxiety

Kurt Vonnegut Author, Playwright 
Depression, Suicide Attempt 
Kurt Vonngeut's Battle with Depression
The Tragic Life of Kurt Vonnegut 

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published