Unfinished Apparel was founded by Lauren Hackett in 2021 as a response to her own experiences with mental health and other’s experiences with in-patient psychiatric treatment. In 2020, Lauren experienced a serious depressive episode as a result of a medical condition that brought her to the point of seeking admittance to a local in-patient psychiatric center. Before she began the process, she was stopped by a friend and warned that she may not know what treatment is “really like.” Not having any real knowledge of treatment other than that it should be the place you go when you need help, Lauren was shocked by the stories she heard.
Being nervous to enter treatment, Lauren began asking around and posted a few videos asking others to share their experience of in-patient treatment. Most poor responses included complaints about the “clothing” they were forced into. Come to find out, this “clothing” was the farthest thing from it and what these garments actually were, were paper scrubs. The scrubs being described by people were see-through, itchy, and constantly tore in places they shouldn’t; not to mention, many patients were victims of trauma that exposure would be incredibly triggering for.
It was borderline unbelievable. Why would we put patients who are at their lowest point in something so dehumanizing and uncomfortable?
Lauren received a few responses to this question, most being, “It’s cheaper and more efficient” or the worst being, “It keeps patients in line.” The only response that held any real value was that it was safer for the patient. But, after speaking with hospital staff, the only patients who needed to be in paper scrubs were acute-high-risk patients. There was no real reason for concern for low-risk patients.
The more Lauren learned, the more motivation grew to make a change. Less than a year later, having just taken up embroidery as a hobby to distract herself from her own mental health struggles (as recommended by her therapist), Lauren planned to sell embroidered clothing and use a portion of the proceeds to donate colorful, decorated, string-free apparel to any psychiatric unit that would take them. The company was named Unfinished Apparel as a reminder to both herself and others that your story is unfinished.
It took months to find a hospital willing to be the first, but The Horsham Clinic became Unfinished’s first donation partner in October of 2021.
Lauren started posting on social media, raising awareness about the many problems with paper scrubs as well as marketing for the company, and was flooded by thousands of comments expressing the same reaction Lauren first had when she learned of paper scrubs. The other thousands of comments were people sharing their stories of treatment and educating people on the damage of paper scrubs.
Since then, Unfinished Apparel’s mission has grown far beyond what Lauren thought it would be and shows no signs of stopping. Lauren is so grateful to have found her purpose and attributes much of her ability to continue writing her story to having started Unfinished Apparel.