Navigating Business and Mental Health

Written by Kristin Farmer


Posted on September 06 2023

I started my business, Curly Contessa, after a mental health breakdown that revealed my Bipolar II and Borderline Personality Disorder diagnoses. In this blog post, I'll share my personal journey and the invaluable lessons I've learned about entrepreneurship and mental health.

Finding My Niche:

One of the first steps in starting a successful business is finding your niche—a specialized segment of the market for a particular product or service. For me, this meant focusing on illustrating Black women and placing these images on home goods and giftware items. This niche not only fulfilled my passion but also resonated with a broader audience seeking representation in their everyday lives.

Balancing Passion with Pragmatism:

While pursuing your passion is essential, it's equally crucial not to get too carried away with what feels good. Entrepreneurship demands a strategic approach. I learned the importance of creating lists to help me prioritize and stay focused. It's easy to get lost in creativity and create numerous products that may not find their market. Balancing passion with practicality became a key factor in my business's success.

Knowing My Target Audience:

In the world of business, it's impossible to please everyone. Understanding my target audience was crucial because it guided my product development and marketing efforts. Curly Contessa found success by resonating with a specific audience—those who valued and sought representation of Black women in their daily lives. Tailoring my offerings to this target audience ensured that my products had a meaningful impact.

Thinking Before Spending:

One of the most valuable lessons I learned was the importance of prudent spending. During hypomanic episodes, I found it tempting to invest heavily in various marketing ideas and products without proper validation. This led to financial strain and setbacks. To avoid this, I always make sure to validate my ideas before committing substantial resources.

Realistic Sales Projections:

Entrepreneurship is a journey filled with ups and downs. During periods of slow sales, it's easy to experience deep depression. To mitigate this, I've learned to create realistic sales projections. Understanding that there will be setbacks and challenges along the way, I maintain a long-term perspective and don't let temporary downturns define my journey.


Starting a business after a mental health breakdown and discovering my dual diagnosis of Bipolar II and Borderline Personality Disorder was an extraordinary challenge. My story with Curly Contessa serves as a testament to the power of resilience, self-awareness, and strategic thinking in entrepreneurship.


My journey with Curly Contessa reminds me that success in business is not just about profit but also about personal growth and self-discovery. Finding your niche, balancing passion with pragmatism, knowing your audience, wise spending, and realistic projections are invaluable lessons for any entrepreneur. And, as my story illustrates, these lessons can be even more profound when paired with the courage to confront and manage mental health challenges. Through it all, I've learned that every setback can become a stepping stone towards a brighter future.