STUNN Collective exists to empower women to harness their own unique beauty and potential by providing a mental wellness forward approach to beauty. Merriam Webster defines beauty as “the quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit”. By this definition, beauty touches on core human concepts about pleasure, mind, and spirit.
Experiencing beauty around us is one thing but feeling beautiful is another. To feel beautiful is to feel whole, confident, loved, and worthy. And this all starts with mental wellbeing. Beauty is an inevitable consequence of feeling mentally well. So yes, beauty includes how we look and how we view others. But true beauty is a much deeper concept and isn’t something we need to be perfect to achieve. We simply need to find the love and compassion to see it in ourselves. At STUNN Collective, we envision a world where this is possible.
As part of our series about young people who are making an important social impact, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jordan DePass.
Jordan DePass co-founded STUNN Collective, a beauty and wellness supplement brand offering a mental wellness forward approach to beauty, with his wife, Ashleigh, in 2019.
Jordan is an engineer turned entrepreneur with an avid interest in innovation, consciousness, and wellness. Prior to starting STUNN Collective, he found himself deeply dissatisfied with his career, which led him on a journey of self-discovery through meditation, traditional medicine, and entrepreneurship.
In the rare times when he’s not pursuing his dreams or spending time with his family, you will probably find Jordan meditating in a sauna, exercising, or working on expanding his consciousness.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us about how you grew up?
I couldn’t have selected a better upbringing. My parents were amazing role models and guides, and my younger sister was, and has remained, one of my best friends. My early childhood was spent playing outside, helping my dad with projects around the house, and hanging out with family.
I have always been curious and analytical. I spent a lot of time reading novels and lying on my back looking at the sky, lost in thought and wonder about how everything worked.
I naturally took to sports and played competitive hockey through my teenage years. I was provided access to amazing physical, mental, and nutritional training, and from an early age, I was shown how high-quality nutrition and mindset training can impact physical performance.
Leaning into my curiosity for the world, I decided early on that I would become an engineer. I went off to university immediately following high school and enrolled in electrical engineering. I generally loved the education — it sparked my drive to dig deeper and quenched my thirst for knowledge.
Four years later, I graduated and landed what I thought was my dream job at a leading corporation. Within a few months, however, I started to come to the realization that it wasn’t exactly something I was passionate about. What drove me to become an engineer was my innate need to find out how things worked and the prospect of being on the leading edge of innovation, but I found the office politics, mindless meetings, and mundane “look busy” tasks seemed to be a more accurate description of the job.
I realized I was completely dissatisfied, so I began a process of self-discovery where I turned inward to rediscover my passions, and I tuned into a creative part of my mind that I had largely neglected up to that point. Meditation, journaling, and mental wellness became my solace from the workday, and I started experimenting with natural ingredients that have been used for millennia in Ayurveda and TCM. Beyond helping to shift my mindset, I found a deeper passion in the connection between science and spirituality that many plant-based ingredients offered.
I spent the next couple of years exploring side hustles, and creative paths, and even set up a couple of businesses, but I kept coming back to my growing interests in mental wellness and the power of plant-based ingredients, which eventually led to me teaming up with my wife, Ashleigh, to create STUNN Collective.
Is there a particular book or organization that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
Two books come to mind. The first is Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth, and the second is Tim Ferris’ 4-Hour Work Week. Like any impactful book, both came at a serendipitous time in my life. Eckhart Tolle’s book was the catalyst that allowed me to start taking my life into my own hands. A few weeks prior to picking up A New Earth, I had my first memorable spiritual experience which opened up a part of my mind that would have previously been turned off by this type of book. In A New Earth, Tolle describes how we can connect with a deeper part of our being to find purpose and inspire a world where peace and positivity reign. Reading this book lit the fire for me to start making my own life changes. I began meditating daily and found strength in building my own mental wellness routines. Through this process, I realized a large cause for my unhappiness was that I felt like I had never actually taken control of my life or truly considered how I wanted to live it. I was successful by all surface metrics, and I had to find a way to go beneath the surface to discover what success actually meant to me.
This brings me to the second book. A few months after starting my journey into mental wellness, I realized that I had to quit my “successful” job and do something that allowed me to make a positive mark on the world. But that realization came with immense fear and doubt. The thing was, I had really never spent the time considering what my passions were. The 4-Hour Work Week appeared in my life and changed all of that. It inspired me to dig deep, take risks, and find what my passions were. It would take a number of years for me to build my confidence through side hustles and passion projects before I would gain the courage to quit my job and start my new life as a full-time entrepreneur, but I doubt I would have started that journey at all if it wasn’t for Tim Ferriss and The 4-Hour Work Week.
You are currently leading an organization that is helping to make a positive social impact. Can you tell us a little about what you and your organization are trying to create in our world today?
STUNN Collective exists to empower women to harness their own unique beauty and potential by providing a mental wellness forward approach to beauty.
Merriam Webster defines beauty as “the quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit”. By this definition, beauty touches on core human concepts about pleasure, mind, and spirit.
Experiencing beauty around us is one thing but feeling beautiful is another. To feel beautiful is to feel whole, confident, loved, and worthy. And this all starts with mental wellbeing. Beauty is an inevitable consequence of feeling mentally well.
So yes, beauty includes how we look and how we view others. But true beauty is a much deeper concept and isn’t something we need to be perfect to achieve. We simply need to find the love and compassion to see it in ourselves.
At STUNN Collective, we envision a world where this is possible.
Can you tell us the backstory about what originally inspired you to feel passionate about this cause and to do something about it?
My cofounder (and wife), Ashleigh, has taught me a lot about the challenges women face with their own beauty, and how those challenges impact their confidence, and ability to succeed in life. Ashleigh’s mission is to empower women to redefine their definition of beautiful to include themselves so they can step into their own greatness. She wants all women to be able to fearlessly take on their dreams without their perceived external inadequacies being the thing that holds them back.
Her passion for this cause grew out of her own struggle with the limiting beliefs and negative perceptions she had with her appearance. Like many women, feeling like she was not beautiful enough caused some major setbacks and ongoing challenges in her life. And she realized she needed to make a conscious effort every day to overcome these challenges.
Prior to meeting Ashleigh, I was aware of the role beauty plays in a woman’s life — I grew up with strong feminine influences, including my mom, my sister, and my grandmother, and I saw first-hand from an early age how beauty for women is so much more than simply “looking” good. But it wasn’t until I got to know Ashleigh on a deeply intimate level that I realized how a perceived lack of beauty acts as the key limiting (and often dangerous) barrier for so many women.
Ashleigh and I are now expecting our first child, which we are excited to share is a girl. Needless to say, I have been giving a lot of renewed thought to our mission and have a new sense of urgency in our execution. For most of us, our limiting beliefs begin when we are a child, and I am committed to creating a world where my daughter feels adequate, confident, and beautiful.
On a final note, I believe men face a lot of the same issues with how they perceive their own beauty. Growing up, I lacked confidence because I didn’t think I looked good enough. I would obsess over my hair, wish I could hide my acne, and work out for hours in attempt to become more muscular — thinking that if I could just change those things, I might be worthy enough.
I am also an extremely emotional and empathetic person — two additional traits that don’t fit society’s traditional definition of “masculine”. Growing up, I tried to suppress these parts of myself, which often led to negativity and anger. I have recently realized that I am battling with years of self-inflicted emotional damage resulting from my poor self-image and fear that I was not “beautiful” enough. Though the markers of beauty for men may be different than they are for a woman, they are no less critical to how we view ourselves, and the confidence we have in the world.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
There is not one story I can think of that stands out more than any other, and I think that is because the journey of starting a company is truly a life changing experience, where every day brings a new challenge. There have been moments of pure euphoria, moments of blissful clarity, moments with customers that have cut through on an emotional level, and more than a fair share of moments of despair that have caused me to question whether I am on the right path.
In effort to provide an answer, I will provide a story about a life changing realization I had recently. But first, a bit of back story.
Prior to starting STUNN Collective, I was dissatisfied with my corporate job. On the surface, everything looked great — the money was great, the work was stable, and I was progressing. But it wasn’t right for me — I had a burning desire to pursue my passions and make an impact on the world.
It took a number of years to build the courage and experience to make a significant change, and when I finally did, I felt like I was on top of the world. I was finally a full-time entrepreneur!
This was short lived though. Very soon, the pressures of running a business started taking over. My excitement for becoming an entrepreneur and passion for creating a change in the world was overtaken by my fears, anxieties, and insecurities — and topics like business growth, runway, and product market fit started to become more important in my mind than the wins that come with inspiring one other person, earning the respect and loyalty of one happy customer, and having the privilege to live life on my terms and create the change in the world that I am passionate about.
As my fears about financial success and insecurities around my ability to run a successful company started to take over, I found myself slipping into the same pattern of dissatisfaction I had at my corporate job. I tried to overcompensate and hide from this fact for a time by working harder, but I eventually reached a point where the burn out was just too great. I had to face the fact that I was depressed.
Luckily, Ashleigh is both my partner in business and in life. She noticed the change occurring and managed to handle me with patience and tenderness. She convinced me that I needed to take some time off of work, and practice what we always preach — mental wellness.
We took a full weekend off last fall to reset (a long break from work for us at this point) and have committed to taking micro breaks every day with larger breaks at least once a week. We take this time to reset and remind ourselves how lucky we are. I have put a new emphasis on my own mental wellness practices and have reinvigorated my connection to spirituality. Our reality really is what we make it out to be, and if we choose to be positive and see the lighter side of situations, our reality will become such.
Happiness takes constant effort — but through the process of starting a company, I have realized that happiness is in my own hands. This is the most significant revelation starting a company has provided me so far.
Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
One story that comes to mind is of a customer who had been taking our products for a number of months. Out of the blue, she reached out to Ashleigh to engage with her on a more personal level. As a side note, we make it very easy for our customers to reach either Ashleigh or myself for this exact reason. We are running a business to serve many customers, but it is the deeper interactions that occur on a one-on-one level that really fuel us.
Ashleigh discovered that this particular customer was a small business owner who was on the verge of giving up her dream to have a profitable party rental business, and as a huge fan of our products and content, she was looking for another level of support. She was inspired by Ashleigh’s journey, and her mission to empower other women to harness their beauty and potential.
Ashleigh continued to keep in touch and check in with her, acting as a friend, and a guide where appropriate. These simple and authentic gestures helped the customer realize that she was not alone, and that she was worthy and had what it takes to run a successful business. A few more interactions and a few months later, and this customer reported back that she felt completely empowered. She has been growing her business and has overcome many of the roadblocks she initially thought were insurmountable.
The reason I like to tell this story is because on the surface it has nothing to do with beauty — but when we peeled back the layers, we found out the reason she did not feel worthy in her ability to run her business was because of her limiting beliefs about her appearance — and that was why she first started to engage with our brand. The root of so much inner turmoil starts when we are young, and much of that can be tied back to a toxic relationship with our beauty.
How do you define “Making A Difference”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
I used to become overwhelmed by the idea of trying to make a difference because I thought it meant I had to make a profound difference that could be felt worldwide — a feat that few accomplish in a lifetime. What I have since learned is real ‘difference’ happens every day, and during every interaction. Inspiring just one person to live a happier or more positive life is making a difference.
Beyond this, the foundation for making any difference starts with making a difference within yourself. How do you talk to yourself? Are you happy, positive, compassionate, and forgiving? Most of us are not, and it is difficult to make a difference for others when you cannot make that difference for yourself.
All of that said, I would define making a difference as the small things you do every single day that impact the world, yourself, or others in a positive way. Small differences delivered regularly and consistently are necessary for any large-scale impact to be made.
Many young people would not know what steps to take to start to create the change they want to see. But you did. What are some of the steps you took to get your project started? Can you share the top 5 things you need to know to become a changemaker? Please tell us a story or example for each.
- Commit to a path of growth. The saying goes that the more we know, the more we realize we actually don’t know. If we accept this, then we should always see room for improvement and growth.
- Always do your best to view life with an open mind and try to see other perspectives. It becomes easy to become rigid in our beliefs, but if we learn to take an unbiased approach to different opinions, innovative solutions start to arise.
- Always do something that matters. If you feel like what you’re doing matters, then it will. Doing things that you feel matter allow you to overcome the impossibility of making change through cultivating a passion and commitment that few others will be able to match.
- Be kind to yourself. When you step out to create change, you are going to be faced with a lot of fear, doubt, and limiting beliefs. The cure to this is to simply be kind to yourself and accept the process.
- Stay curious. You will never find problems, much less solutions, if you don’t stay curious and peel back layers.
What are the values that drive your work?
Curiosity, vulnerability, and commitment drive everything I do, both in business and in life.
Values act like a compass for success, and a filter for good decision making. I am a huge proponent of developing an intuitive relationship with yourself and listening to your gut before your brain when it comes to decisions, but quite often a second opinion is required. For me, that second opinion comes from my values. If something feels good and then passes the value test, I am usually quite confident in proceeding.
Curiosity and commitment are both fairly self-explanatory, but vulnerability is a value that may be worth digging into deeper. For me, vulnerability means staking a claim in unknown territory, and doing it in an authentic and audacious way. It takes a level of vulnerability to do anything extraordinary, and I tend to respect vulnerability above many other traits in others and in myself.
Many people struggle to find what their purpose is and how to stay true to what they believe in. What are some tools or daily practices that have helped you to stay grounded and centred in who you are, your purpose, and focused on achieving your vision?
This is a great question. I am super passionate about cultivating empowering daily routines and have a number of tools and practices in my tool kit. I’ll provide a few of them and get into why I love building daily routines.
For many, routines are viewed as something they want to escape — and that is usually when they are in a routine that they do not like or is not of their choosing. An example of this would be the routine of abruptly waking up after pressing snooze on your alarm clock 4 times, quickly showering, then hopping in your car to fight traffic and make it to work on time. When seen from this perspective, routines can be pretty disempowering.
When you have an opportunity to build your ideal routine, the opposite becomes true — routines become the anchors to your day, and provide a planned time to ground yourself, setting your mind, body, and spirit on track. The “routine” aspect of this is actually the best part, because if it is the right routine, it is a planned time every single day when you can choose to feel amazing.
Take the previous example — what if we tweaked it a bit and turned it into a different routine where you set your alarm 30 minutes early to have a nice shower, stretch, and journal about your plans for the day, then hop in your car so you can indulge in your favorite podcast as you drive to work. Sounds a bit nicer, right? It’s all in the way routines are framed.
For me, the most important times of the day are first thing in the morning and the time before bed because those are the only times of the day, I have full control over. My perfect routine always involves a mental, physical, and spiritual component, and is less about what I do or how long it takes, as it is about how it makes me feel. The mental and spiritual aspects of my routine serve to ground me and provide a dedicated time to work through some of the tension or uncertainty I may be facing on that particular day. The physical aspect is usually slightly physically challenging and provides a sense of accomplishment that I can bookmark my day with, while getting some of those mood boosting endorphins flowing.
My routine has evolved over time, but there are some basic building blocks that have stayed consistent, which include meditation, journaling, affirmations, 5–30 minutes of exercise, and heat and cold therapy. Each of these serve a different purpose for me, and the morning and night routine look slightly different. I find the mornings are all about easing anxiety and putting myself in a good headspace, whereas my routine before bed is all about engaging with myself on a spiritual and creative level and building in a sense of peace and relaxation to ease into my sleep.
Everyone will find a different routine that works for them, and by no means does it have to be ultra-structured or take a lot of time. It is important to not get caught up in a competition for having the perfect routine. You will know when it is right because it feels right.
In my work, I aim to challenge us all right now to take back our human story and co-create a vision for a world that works for all. I believe youth should have agency over their own future. Can you please share your vision for a world you want to see? I’d love to have you describe what it looks like and feels like. As you know, the more we can imagine it, the better we can manifest it!
This is a great question! I don’t believe in perfection in the world — I think there will always be a certain degree of tension, and I also think everyone is on a different journey, and sometimes we need to experience some hardship in order to learn, grow, and evolve. I also find this to be a very difficult question to provide a widely applicable answer to as my own experience is quite narrow. I was extraordinarily fortunate to have been born in an amazing country to a loving and supportive family.
In saying that, I will provide insight into how I approach this question right now — and I expect this will shift as I experience more of life myself.
My vision for the world is one where every single person at a minimum has access to nutrition, shelter, clean water, and a community that inspires curiosity, creativity, and self-exploration. I truly believe that every single person is doing the best they can with what they’ve got — and in a world where we all had our basic physical, mental, and spiritual needs met, I think things would generally fall into place.
A problem I see, especially in Canada and the US, is so many of us are stuck in negative patterns, often rooted in generations of the same negative patterns. It is almost impossible to shift to a different way of thinking and being if you do not have access to community or support that see’s the world in a more expansive way. It all starts with providing support to our children to develop a malleable mind that is open to alternate perspectives.
We have the ability to maintain full and complete control over our own reality, yet so many of us thwart our ability to create the world we want to live in by choosing anger, negativity, regret, and other self-destructive emotions. We get trapped in negative and self-limiting belief systems and choose to think we have no control over the world we live in. And when that is the belief, that also becomes the reality.
If we found a way to implement systems that nurture our youth’s physical, mental, and spiritual health, and fostered a society that was able to see beyond limiting beliefs, I think society would collectively find the best way to live on this planet.
We are powerful co-creators and our minds and intentions create our reality. If you had limitless resources at your disposal, what specific steps would take to bring your vision to fruition?
To answer this question, I am going to narrow the scope a bit, and talk about solutions I see for Canada and the US only — and I will provide the two steps that immediately come to mind.
If we are going to change a whole society’s perspective, then it all starts with our children. The first step I would take with limitless resources would be to overhaul the education system. To start, I would ensure that every child had the opportunity to be fed nutritious meals at school without cost. There are too many children who do not have access to high quality nutrition, and by providing it at school, it would also incentivize more children to go to school, while also teaching them the value of a healthy lifestyle. I would even love to see more programs where students learned basic agricultural practices by learning how to garden and grow some of their food that they are fed at school. This seed to plate style of learning would spur a new generation to be more conscious about the impact they have on the earth.
I would implement a new educational structure that nurtured curiosity and catered to all learning styles — not just those that do well taking exams. Every child has the potential to be brilliant in their own way, and the current education system tends to dull the light of students who don’t learn in the “traditional” parameters. In addition, school needs to empower kids to ask big questions about life, spirituality, innovation, and the universe, and think outside the box. My experience was that the big questions were often suppressed because they didn’t fit into the traditional curriculum, and teachers didn’t have the bandwidth to address them. I was lucky to have a family that was open to thinking big, but many kids do not.
The second step I would take would be to provide access to health care, including mental health, and wellness. Living in Canada, I have been fortunate to always have access to care when I need it without worrying about spending my savings or piling up debt. From what I see in the US, this is an enormous issue, and is one that needs immediate attention.
To take this a step further, I would like everyone to have access to both mental healthcare and mental wellness — which is not necessarily the same as mental health. As I said in my previous response, so many problems are created as a result of our own limiting beliefs, and if we provided everyone equal opportunity to work through their emotions and nurture their mental state, I think many of society’s biggest problems would be significantly reduced.
Laying out the broad steps is only one part of the solution — the second, and perhaps more difficult component is who pays for this, and how do we implement it on a large scale with consistency and quality? Being an entrepreneur, I strongly believe in capitalism — and I think entrepreneurs can initiate innovative approaches and incentive structures that can enable business to succeed through helping society succeed. In saying that, I think the government needs to provide some structure for foundational systems such as healthcare, basic education, and infrastructure, and through appropriate taxation and use of funds (a whole other topic I won’t delve into), I believe we can solve these problems.
I see a world driven by the power of love, not fear. Where human beings treat each other with humanity. Where compassion, kindness and generosity of spirit are characteristics we teach in schools and strive to embody in all we do. What changes would you like to see in the educational system? Can you explain or give an example?
In the real world, the majority of things are not black or white, right or wrong, yet school trains us to work in a system that is. Further, school seems to train students to be good at taking tests — yet life is certainly not a test, it is an ongoing journey and experience with lessons learned along the way. As an adult, one thing that pains me deeply about my own experience was putting so much focus on whether a specific topic would appear on an exam — rather than becoming excited and intrigued by the new knowledge I was gaining.
Everyone learns in a different way, and luckily the traditional education system allowed me to progress with good grades, but I would like to see a system where all types of learners were empowered through their optimal learning style. School needs to be more experiential, and more about fostering curiosity — and a whole lot less about getting good grades or doing well on tests.
I believe the purpose of school should be to nurture curiosity and foster a creative environment where everyone is empowered to learn. If we can nurture that, then I think we are going to set every child up for success — you will never learn everything you need to know in school. But you will learn how to learn, and you should gain confidence in your ability to overcome whatever obstacles are placed in your way.
Finally, I believe it is important to nurture the idea that our views and opinions can and should change as we gain new experience. Our large corporations and higher education systems tend to place value on people who become specialists and never veer outside of their lanes, yet the world is progressing at an ever-increasing pace. Our parents’ generations were largely able to find success in one stable career path, but with technology rapidly advancing, the majority of us will be forced to reinvent ourselves multiple times over a career.
On this topic, I would like to see increased emphasis on nontraditional career paths from an early age. The education system acts as a funnel for universities — which are only actually accessible to a small portion of the population from a resource perspective, and of those that have access, university is only truly appropriate for a small fraction. It is crazy to think that students are required to pick a career and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on an education before they have any real experience or insight into who they are.
I will add that the burden of learning should by no means be placed entirely on the education system — the majority of learning happens outside of school, and needs to come from friends, family and experience. The education system is just one aspect that is more in our collective control than any other. An additional caveat, this is a much larger topic, and I will not pretend to have the knowledge or experience with the education system to provide a solution. I also do not want to detract from the countless amazing teachers who are pouring their soul into helping children — these are the real heroes in society.
If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
This is a great question, and in the spirit of having a bit of fun, I’ll be a little bit cheeky with my response and say that if you have to ask why you should consider making a positive impact on the environment or society, then perhaps you are not quite ready to take the steps necessary to make an impact.
On a less cheeky note, I’ll reframe the question from why to how for those that are ready to make a change, and I’ll offer two insights that I have been thinking a lot about.
The first, is to learn how to find compassion and love for yourself. We are all hardest on ourselves, and if we can ease up internally, then we will have the energy and clarity to support the world externally.
Second, do things that matter, don’t just do things. What matters is up to each of us individually, and it should be driven by our curiosity, introspection, and unique goals and challenges. If you feel like what you do matters, then it will matter.
Is there a person in the world with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
I am endlessly inspired by Richard Branson. He handles stress magnificently, and always seems to artfully find balance with family, work, and pleasure in a way that most of the great business leaders seem to miss. Though he presents a fun, down to earth persona, I also greatly value his views on business. He talks about fostering a culture of intrapreneurs within an organization to give every employee a stake in the innovation and success of the business, and values his employees more than most employers, knowing that if his employees are happy, his customers will be too.
I respect a lot of people in this world, but there are few leaders that I respect for so many reasons — from business, to family, to adventure and fun, he seems to check off all the boxes. My only concern would be that a breakfast or a lunch wouldn’t be enough time to even scratch the surface!
How can our readers further follow your work online?
The best way to stay in touch is to follow us on the socials @STUNNCollective, or head to our website at stunnco.com. The best place to connect with me personally is on LinkedIn.
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!