The Santa Barbara–based shoe brand SeaVees has partnered with the Santa Barbara Mental Wellness Center to create a shoe inspired by mental health awareness, working with students from the center’s Wellness Connection Council and agreeing to donate 10 percent of the shoe’s sales to the center.
Students from the council, made up of area high school students, were involved in the advertising aspect of the shoes, modeling for the official promotional pictures of the shoes that can be seen on the SeaVees website. The council focuses on destigmatizing mental health among young people through education and empowerment.
Gabe Munoz, a junior at San Marcos High School, was one of the council members who modeled for the SeaVees shoe launch. “I thought it would be fun to be the face of something I’m proud of,” Munoz said. He joined the council his freshman year, following in the footsteps of his sister, and said working on the council through the pandemic has allowed him to address anxiety and depression among students. “I think doing this has helped a lot with my mental health,” Munoz said. “It definitely helped a lot with my communication skills.”
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Though SeaVees is a national shoe brand, their flagship store is based out of Santa Barbara. Rachel Bacal, content and community manager for SeaVees, said the idea for the shoe was developed at the height of the pandemic, and it was always intended to be a community collaboration. After taking about a year to complete, the shoes officially launched in March 2022. “We always want to make sure we’re giving back to the community,” Bacal said. She also said she was very impressed by the dedication of the connection council, calling them the “voices of the campaign,” from start to finish. “It’s been amazing to have [the Wellness Connection Council] take part in the creative process.”
For the design aspect of the shoe, SeaVees collaborated with Instagram personality Carissa Potter Carlson, who runs the account @peopleiveloved. Carlson wrote the phrase “You got this” on the outside heel and “I got this” on the inside sole, as well as a small drawing of a hand with her “People I’ve Loved” logo written inside. The bottoms of the sneakers are a dark-green shade, the same color as the green ribbon internationally known as the symbol for mental health awareness. Bacal said Carlson has a “raw, sincere approach to talking about emotion,” which the SeaVees team felt would pair nicely with the message the shoe was meant to convey.
Annmarie Cameron, CEO of the Mental Wellness Center, said fundraising was never a main focus for the project, but she was grateful the students were given the opportunity to participate in the project. “Inspiring curiosity and passion is a bigger objective than fundraising, though we are grateful for the contributions,” she said.