How a Family Turned the Tragic Death of Their Son Into an Online Legacy
This family tackled grief by taking over their son's mental health awareness brand, Happy Jack.
On July 3rd, 2020, Bradi Nathan got the call no parent wants to receive: her son, Jack, had passed away at the age of nineteen. The prior evening, Jack had been at a friend's birthday party and swallowed, what he thought, was a Percocet. The pill was laced with Fentanyl and he never woke up.
Prior to Jack's passing, he had created a company called Happy Jack, an online lifestyle brand and community designed for those struggling with mental illness. Jack had periodic bouts of depression and painting became his therapy. Happy Jack showcased the founder's designs on apparel, with a portion of the proceeds going to mental health foundations. From the very first week of sales, Jack donated $1,000 to the Child Mind Institute.
Bradi chose to continue what Jack started to honor his legacy and to continue his mission.
"He wanted to change the world," recalled Jack's mom. "He wanted to make this world a better place by speaking openly and by letting other kids know that they were not alone."
A son's brand as a mother's therapy
Bradi continues to use Jack's designs on new product drops and has since donated $60,000 to mental health foundations like Active Minds, Born This Way, Release Recovery and the American Cancer Society. The path to donation is not an easy one: sourcing, manufacturing, distribution, site management, customer service and fulfillment were all roles that Bradi stepped into in her son's absence.
"It's funny when someone tells me that they contacted customer service," revealed Bradi, "because I am customer service."
Happy Jack is a family-run business welcoming advice and consults from experts as they grow the brand organically. Bradi and Jack's father David would ultimately like to have a COO step in, gain financing and build a proper infrastructure. This would allow them the space to focus on personally sharing Jack's story.
Healing while helping
With the additional aid of Jack's sister, Drew, the project has partnered with fraternities across the country to create fundraising events. Brand ambassadors across college campuses are enlisted to help create mental health awareness. Happy Jack has also conducted pop-up shops in spaces like WeWork and the Seaport District. These allow the family to meet and share stories with many who too are struggling.
"There was never a question as to whether or not I would continue Happy Jack," added Bradi. "It seemed like the obvious thing to do."
Related: 8 Best Health and Wellness Podcasts