Mindfulness Matters

New Orleans-based The Village Anthology and its mental health mission

"... we at The Village Anthology [have made] a commitment to address this mental health issue challenging the emotional health of young people."

A well-rounded life has many aspects: love, friendship, physical health and mental and emotional well-being.

 Adults often neglect the latter, and overlook it completely in kids. The idea of incorporating into everyday life the practices and objects that encourage happiness has become more mainstream with the popularization of mindfulness, or the process of directing one's thoughts to the present moment. Mindfulness has been studied for its effects on everything from mitigating depression symptoms to smoking cessation.

 The Village Anthology online shop (www.thevillageanthology.com), operated by founder Sydney Petite Hinds, is filled with products that promote positivity. Items include swaddling scarves printed with positive affirmations such as "Life Grows Lovely Where You Are," dreamy cloud mobiles and crystal healing jewelry. Clothing, shoes and accessories for babies and kids are available in vivid, fun colors and patterns.

 "We specialize in sourcing artists and goods from all over the world," Hinds says. "It's a lot of small-scale artists."

 The website has products from Dubai, Copenhagen, Indonesia and Australia. But it's not simply a children's boutique. The Village Anthology also sells mindfulness products for adults, such as grounding spray by Brooklyn-based Lovewild Design, and roll-on essential oils that reduce stress, made by CakeFace Soaping right here in New Orleans. The Village Anthology also sells hand-painted silk robes and sunglasses in bold silhouettes.

 "I wanted to create a very inclusive boutique, so a parent could find something for themselves and the kids," Hinds says.

 The Village Anthology's mission doesn't end with curating a collection of beautiful objects.

 "With the growing concern (over) significant increases in depression among children and teenagers, we at The Village Anthology [have made] a commitment to address this mental health issue challenging the emotional health of young people," Hinds says.

 Her company has partnered with Canadian author and mom Tamara Hackett to sell her books Mindful ABCs and Mindful 1,2,3. Each book features Hackett's writing and water color designs.

 "[Hackett] was looking for a way to introduce the topic of mindfulness to her two children, but was having a hard time finding age-appropriate sources," Hinds says.

 Hackett's Mindful ABCs encourages children to expand their emotional vocabulary by associating words, such as grateful, with a picture of a recognizable animal, like a giraffe. The book allows children to learn mindful concepts in the same way they would learn the alphabet.

Mindful 1,2,3 is more interactive. The book counts from 1 to 10 and each number offers an accompanying physical task. For example, number 2 tells readers to take two breaths, and number 8 says to feel eight beats of your heart. This encourages caregivers and children reading the book to connect with their own bodies and with each other.

 Hinds further supports mental health initiatives by donating to the Seleni Institute, a nonprofit organization that focuses on mental and emotional health for mothers and their families. The Seleni Institute was founded in 2011 to destigmatize mental health issues and provide support for families dealing with infertility, third party reproduction, miscarriage, stillbirth and menopause, among other concerns.

 The Village Anthology shop donates $1 of every purchase to Seleni and hosts a monthly "Seleni Sales Day," when 10 percent of profits go to the Seleni Institute.

 Hinds' passion for mental health was ignited after a car accident left her with a trau- matic brain injury. She decided to fill her life with beautiful objects and images that make her smile, and to pass that beauty on to others through The Vil- lage Anthology.

 "Everything in our store is happy," she says. "It's crazy, it's eccentric and it's colorful. This [store] is a passion project to put my energy into."

 The online shop has been open since June, and Hinds plans to open a brick-and-mortar store in fall 2018.