For as long as I can remember I have experienced seasons of low mood, but I find that even if I feel quite down, I can still feel like attending events and mixing with people.
If I’m having a bad day, I push myself to approach new people, strike up some small talk and make a connection.Zoe E Breen
Or sometimes I don’t. Instead I sit quietly on the edge of things, wishing I felt more sociable or that someone would just come and talk to me.
One thing that I have learnt is that almost nobody enjoys the awkwardness of having to ‘break the ice’ at these kinds of events. I just think it’s harder if you feel, think or communicate differently from other people.
The birth of Care Labels For Humans
One day in 2014, when I was feeling particularly reflective, I mused upon the fact that the clothes we wear carry care labels so when we put them in the laundry we know how to look after them to keep them at their best.
And I asked myself – how come there was something like this for our clothes but not for ourselves?
In that moment Care Labels For Humans was born.
I’m going to fast-forward through some of the next bits. What you do need to know is that over the following years I experienced what I now describe as ‘catastrophic loss’.
This included the death of my 90-year-old grandmother Muriel (my mum’s mum) in 2015, and then losing my mother, who was just 69, to pancreatic cancer in 2016.
In 2014, shortly before these events I lost my dear cat Cosmo who had been with me through thick and thin for sixteen years.
They were not easy times and I needed Care Labels more than ever.
OK, so what are Care Labels For Humans?
It was through attending a F*ck It ‘Do What You Love’ retreat in Italy in 2017 that I was finally to reflect on what really mattered to me. When I got home, I started work to prototype and test a very basic version of Care Labels For Humans.
This is probably a good point to illustrate what Care Labels For Humans looks like now. You can wear your Care Labels on your lanyard card at event. This video might give you a better idea of how they work.
The card has space for your name, your name on social and your preferred gender pronouns.
You can then add labels which describe how you would like others to approach you, how you’d like them to behave around you and the kinds of things that are important in your life.
So, in the example you see here. The flower represents openness, inviting others to ‘step right up’, the dots in the circle mean you can ‘ask me anything’ and my interest labels are travel, healthy habits and shows.
The current deck features 3 ‘Approach’ Labels (A), 6 ‘Behaviour’ Labels (B) and 22 ‘Chat / (Self)-Care Labels.
And what can I do to help?
I’ve had so much great feedback from user testing mostly done with my Manchester Girl Geeks group, and from people suggesting different applications of Care Labels For Humans that I’m now developing several related products which I plan to bring to market later this year.
I’m running a Crowdfunder campaign to raise money to pay a third party to undertake a product validation project. I work full time so it’s not something that I can do myself.
I’ve produced some great rewards for the Crowdfunder, as well as event kits, there are Care Label definition cards and an exclusive journal which allows you to reflect on your Care Labels privately.
This project has been a labour of love for me for over five years. Many hours of love, thinking and cutting up coloured paper have been involved.
I am deeply grateful for any contribution that you can make. Please pledge and share with anyone else you think might be able to support Care Labels For Humans.
I’ve only got until 18th September to raise the funds and every bit of support really does help and any pledges will be very gratefully received.
Zoe E Breen is a Digital Producer and Product Designer, you can find her at @ZoeEBreen on Twitter