Sandra Evans, the founder of Evans + Co New Zealand T/as blackdog nz, conceptualised its humble beginnings in collaboration with her close friend and daughter, late 2020. It was a coffee and conversation of despair that led to a company with a difference being born. It was not about getting rich; it was about finding a way to give back to society whilst dealing with the helplessness she was feeling due to her teenage sons' lack of will to live. He had been on suicide watch for three weeks, and nothing seemed to ease his pain or make a difference except the burning of a candle. For three weeks non-stop he burned a candle in his room, all fragrances, all hours and all varying candle prices, nothing was off-limits. He said the flickering of a lit candle calmed his crazy mind and the scent he inhaled made everything feel ok at that moment in time. The comment resonated with Sandra, and this is where the planning started.


She is working hard to change the mental health stigma.

Sandra said she couldn’t take away her sons' pain. However, she could help him with products that may ease his and other peoples anxiety, and at the same time raise money to donate to professional services that are incredibly underfunded or near impossible to access due to demand. She believes that raising funds for professional support and joining the fight for social awareness will add to the compounding effect on de-stigmatising mental health perceptions.  


Stigma is something Sandra understands; several friends, family members, daughter and son, all suffer to varying degrees. Her life-long battle with depression, crippling anxiety and ADHD, gives her direct insight into what her son, daughter and other sufferers are going through. At times she remembered feeling as tho she would never regain her true self or purpose and that she was weak and of no use, but this is far from her reality now. She said, “I was unwell not broken; it was just like any other illness a person might experience, it does not discriminate, and it is real!” The support from family, friends, and great specialists allowed her to rebuild her life in a new way. She says it is not the same, but it is definitely enriched with experience.


blackdog nz wants to help people understand that mental illness is not a choice. A sufferer does not wake up one day and decide to be unwell. They do not want to feel so low that life is not worth living, or to be unable to hold down a job, care for themselves or loved ones, or think that there is no future or place for them in this world. Nobody would choose to live with physical and cognitive pain so debilitating that life is a constant flow of misery. Depression, anxiety and other mental health morbidities are real; they are not a lifestyle choice!