While for many, the word ‘mindfulness’ is a pretty new realisation, there are those who have been safe in the knowledge of its power and purpose for many years.
Frances Verbeek is definitely in that circle. Here, she chats to Eloquently Her’s creator about the journey to creating an entire ‘empire’ of positivity.
Who in your life is REALLY happy?
Think on that for a minute.
I mean, for all the smiles, the cheery insta-worthy family pics, the enviable big houses and the impressive career badges, which of your friends and colleagues and loved ones are truly truly living in a state of ‘happy’?
It’s perhaps not something you give a great deal of daily thought to, particularly when we’re all just trying to manage our own state of ‘happy’.
And yet, with all that we’re hear about mental health, depression, anxiety and self-harm, the sense is that we’re predominantly becoming a nation of ‘unhappy’ individuals.
So what is the key to fixing that?
How do we get to that state of happy we once enjoyed in childhood, where perhaps we were that much more naïve, and less fixated on what may or may not happen in our world?
Frances Verbeek is the kind of woman who has some pretty great theories on this matter.
“It’s easier to create your life with a blank canvas, and I’ve learned from experience that when you get older, you get stuck in ways, and fear becomes rife in the mind,” she says.
“Fear makes things ten times harder to face and change… and it’s always 10% truth and 90% bullshit.”
This refreshing and straight-talking approach is not necessarily what you might expect from an entrepreneur who experienced her own kind of ‘enlightenment’ back in her late teens.
Indeed, you’ll be encouraged to hear that 35-year-old Frances wasn’t born in to the ways of Buddha from the outset, and took a great deal of convincing that there really was something in this ‘spiritual’ approach to life.
“No, it definitely wasn’t something I was always into,” she continues, laughing.
“Want to know the real truth? I was actually the one banging on my brother’s bedroom door to shut him up when he became interested in Buddhism and was exploring chanting and things.
“I thought it was just a bit ‘out there’, and I’d got no connection with it, or need for it, whatsoever.”
That changed for Frances when, at the age of 19, she subsequently followed in her brother’s footsteps and took time out to attend a metaphysics retreat.
He had been more ‘open to learn’ and had returned from his experience – in Frances’s words – ‘a changed human being’.
“The things my brother was talking about when he got home from that retreat were just so powerful,” she insists.
“I didn’t think I was in any way interested, and certainly not wanting to be ‘converted’, but his intuitive gifts became so apparent, and I was in awe of what that experience had done for him.
“I immediately wanted to learn more for myself and couldn’t wait to get on the retreat.
“When I did, it opened my mind to all things holistic, and made my world so much more purposeful.
“It created a desire in me to let go of fear, to find happiness and love in everything I did, and to want to help other people in the world to find their state of happy too.”
You have to scroll forward quite some years, however, to understand where this awakening has led Frances.
Whilst she didn’t immediately set out to create a business of happy-generation, or to carve a niche for herself as someone channelling mindfulness and positive affirmation, there are a few key episodes which led to that accomplishment.
For starters, she accidentally developed her own product range, driven by the wish to provide her sibling with an appropriately thoughtful gift.
“As soon as I came home from the retreat, I covered my walls in post-it-notes capturing everything I’d learned and recalled from the time away,” she explains.
“It was my way of ensuring that all the important sayings, positivity lessons, energising and motivating tools, were all preserved so that I would be encouraged to keep them in my world on a daily basis.
“When it came to my brother’s birthday, I wrote them all on individual cards – as daily affirmation reminders – and gave him a set in a box, thanks to contacts I had in my professional world as a designer.
“It was these early cards which have then gone on to be central to my business today.”
That ‘business’ (although one might argue it should also be dubbed a ‘movement’) is Frances’s Happi Empire.
At its core, she admits she’s on something of a mission to help people find positivity in their world and to transcend any negative thoughts.
Each of the products she produces – which total about a dozen to date – are designed specifically to help us be mindful, stay positive, reaffirm our happy state, and find hope in every moment.
“Officially, I launched the Empire in 2012,” she explains.
“It was at that stage that my website was ready to retail to the online world on a more official level – but really, the products have been around in some variant since about 2005.
“So many people started to ask me about the cards that I made for my brother, so initially I started creating them for friends and family, and then I moved to Australia to have some new experiences, and hadn’t really thought I was still going to be ‘in demand’ for them there.
“It turned out the interest was only just beginning, so while I was over in Australia I found I was getting people both sides of the globe wanting to buy them, so I got some formal production for them, and then began selling via a few stores.
“That then turned into me finding a distributor, and developing things like the gratitude journal, to sit alongside the cards.”
Since officially announcing the business to the world whilst living in Sydney seven years ago, Frances has now returned to the UK – complete with surf-loving husband Will – and is living in Cornwall, extending the range of products and eyeing up plenty more scope for the Empire.
“Whilst I absolutely loved Sydney, I’m also really happy to be where we are in the south of the UK now, as it’s just a great place for creative vibes, which does wonders for my business ideas,” she continues.
“The audience for The Happi Empire products is growing all the time, and I’ve more and more international clients getting in touch – particularly those from the United States, who definitely seem to have clicked more into the idea of affirmations and positivity in a bigger way.
“It feels like there’s less cynics out there about the world of mindfulness, and that more and more people are keen to discover the very things which my brother and I became aware of back when we in our late teens.”
Frances completely accepts that achieving ‘inner happiness’ isn’t an easy goal, and that it doesn’t come overnight, nor ever without ups, downs and shifts in the sands. In fact, it’s worthy of note that she named the business with an ‘i’ in Happi to reflect ‘inner’, and to stress that true happiness comes from within.
Challenging though it may be, she does believe we can all learn to improve how close we get to that happier, more peaceful, and more contented state.
“It’s like a muscle, and so you just have to keep working at it,” she says, directly.
“I never went in to creating the cards and journals thinking that I could make everyone into a really really happy person and take away people’s sadness – but I do think tools like mine are a great way of keeping you aware of living in the moment and trying to seek positivity over negativity.”
The Happi Empire is undoubtedly a movement with much still to achieve, and with a continual evolution of products and ideas.
While not a product list of ‘magic pills’, the items Frances has mindfully and lovingly created, are clearly life aids which many of us could hope to take benefit from.
“I consider myself really lucky, and proud, to be running a business which in some small way might help the state of mind of people struggling with their own sense of self, or trying to find positivity,” she reflects.
“We all have the power to lift ourselves into a happier place, and I hope my empire is playing a part in making that happen.”
For more information about The Happi Empire, go to www.thehappiempire.com
Frances is kindly offering Eloquently Her an exclusive offer of 10% off. Use this code at checkout to get your discount: eloquentlyher. Offer valid until May 2019.
Frances also runs a website design company and can be found at www.happifran.com