We had the good fortune of connecting with Merrily Talbott and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Merrily, what principle do you value most?
What drives my business is the idea that our minds are powerful and that taking care of our mental health is a priority. When I was in my early 20s, I started therapy in an effort to make sense of my dysfunctional family. Over the years, I’ve lost a friend to suicide, seen kids I care about become drug addicts as well as watched strong, independent women fall victim to domestic abuse. These are serious issues that have affected me deeply. Twenty-five years ago I was teaching peer counseling to teenagers and trying to reduce the stigma of asking for help with the daily social-emotional issues that we all face. I think this was kind of a fringe idea at the time. When the recession hit, the funding for this program was the first thing to be cut. Now, I think the culture is coming around to this idea that mental health struggles are a very real issue and that we’ve got to do something about it. I have been committed to figuring out ways to support people with mental health for my entire career. Placebos® Mints & Gum are just one of my creative solutions to this.
What should our readers know about your business?
I think what sets my business apart from others is that we’re trying to take a subject that’s pretty serious (mental health) and present it in a light and fun way that hopefully reduces the stigma around getting support for it. Just like physical health, we all need to take steps on a daily basis to stay healthy in our minds. Placebos® Mints and Gum are not just candy–when used according to our “dosage instructions,” they’re frequent reminders to take charge of our thoughts, to replace despair with hope, to believe in our ability to overcome limiting mindsets. I’m proud of the advice that’s included inside each package. With a background in counseling and education, I enjoy writing those words that I hope will make a difference for people. I love when I hear from customers that they’ve had the advice paper taped to their mirror for years–this makes me so happy. And donating a portion of our profits to mental health organizations is also very satisfying, knowing that we’re contributing in a small way to the good work that they do.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If my best friend were visiting Colorado, there would be plenty to do in the Paonia area, where I live. We’d go backpacking in the West Elks, we’d take winery tours (Azura, Quotori and Stone Cottage Cellars in Paonia, Mesa Winds Winery in Hotchkiss), we’d do some mountain biking, grab a meal and some music at Delicious Orchards, catch a show at the Paradise Theatre. We’d have KVNF radio playing in the background and go out to eat at the Flying Fork in Paonia or PJ’s in Hotchkiss. Maybe we’d hike the Black Canyon of the Gunnison or float on the North Fork of the Gunnison. If it were August, we’d definitely be at Pickin’ Production’s free music in the park on Thursday evenings.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I could not have built my business without the help of so many thoughtful and dedicated people. Jim Olp and Priscilla Orozco from Denver’s Small Business Development Center have really supported me. Lazaros Bontour and Gerry Dumani have been particularly supportive in the last year. I participated in the Ice Lab’s business accelerator at Western Colorado State University. I’ve had mentors from Region 10, Energize Colorado and Score. At the end of the day, I couldn’t do it without the love and support of my husband and my mom.