The founder of Jeenewoosh clothing brand, Nathan White battled mental illness, drug addiction, and homelessness before launching a youth-empowering label. Now he is determined to help others to avoid misery and a bleak future by giving his support…
Nathan White, 46, splits his time between working as a solar panel maintenance contractor and developing the Jeenewoosh clothing brand. The brand is distinct with its street art style. Nathan never did graffiti as a street artist, but he always admired its colourful style and messages.
Nathan enjoys scribbling in his notebooks and transferring his doodles onto T-shirts, baseball caps, and trainers. His brand name – a variant of the word “genius” – was doodled out too.
During lockdown, Nathan has been working on the final touches of his Jeenewoosh website. “I want to inspire people to achieve their dreams and life goals. Life can be hard sometimes, and I want to share my experience to support others,” Nathan said.
Bleak memories of years spent with heavy drug addiction, failed rehabilitations, and homelessness motivated Nathan to develop his business.
DRUGS AS A SUBSTITUTE FOR LOVE
Nathan did not have the best start at life. When he was three years old, police stormed the house, and Nathan was taken away from his parents’ care. It was the last time he saw them. The boy had severe malnutrition and spent a year in a hospital regaining strength.
Nathan’s grandparents raised him. It was not a happy home. His abusive grandfather often punished Nathan, and the boy usually avoided going home after school.
Besides, time at school was also challenging. Schoolmates bullied him and he kept failing at every subject. “I was constantly daydreaming. I could not focus on any subject.”
He never graduated or received any professional qualifications. At age 12, he started working and had many low-paying jobs: paperboy, gardener, waiter, and chef.
Hoping to escape the “torment of the mind” – self-loathing and pain of rejection – he got into drugs. “It felt like being hugged by my mum,” he said. For this reason, until his late thirties, his life swung from drug-infused numbness to sober periods.
HOMELESSNESS THREATENED LIFE
In 2009, after endless conflicts with his grandfather, Nathan left home. He remembers the four coldest months spent living without a tent, a blanket, or a sleeping bag in Ballard Lake Woods near New Milton.
“Every morning, I would lie for hours on wet leaves curled up near an old fallen tree,” Nathan said. “Every movement was painful. Wet clothes cut like knives, and I had no place to dry them. Every night, I would fall asleep crying, for I did not know if I would wake up the next morning.”
He “was saved by the kind ladies” of New Milton Town Council. “I would come to the council to warm up. They would offer me a cup of tea and a biscuit,” said Nathan. They helped him find a place to live, and from there, Nathan slowly started his life journey upward.
Ten years ago, he quit drugs. Nathan tired of the “war game” lifestyle. “I was getting tired of waiting for a drug dealer who might not show up,” he said. “Getting tired of desperately trying to get money for the next dose. Of looking at my damaged veins.”
Regardless of numerous rejections, failures, and disappointments, Nathan never lost hope or became a bitter man. “I did not want to be like my grandfather. I wanted to help others in similar situations to avoid all this suffering. We can always find hope,” he said.
CREATIVITY AND COLOUR GAVE LIFE DIRECTION
In 2001, after eight months in rehabilitation, he spent time volunteering at All Saints Hostel in Portsmouth. “I worked on the summer programme with young people,” said Nathan. “Some of them were vulnerable youth, and I could recognise my story in them. Working at this summer camp, I discovered my passion for empowering youth.”
Creativity, love for colour, and meditation gave strength to Nathan to change his life. “Creativity is my mindfulness, my meditation,” he explained. “In essence, when you create, you forget your troubles and pain. Therefore, during the creative process, the mind becomes silent, because a person focuses only on the project.”
Now, Nathan wants to show others that there is always a way out from any difficult situation. He is concerned that there are not enough places for young people to spend time after school.
“We need more youth clubs for children to be creative, to work on different projects and find the support they might be lacking at home,” Nathan said.
He hopes that sales of his products will fund youth programmes in the area.
You can find out more about Nathan White and his brand Jeenewoosh on Facebook and Instagram. For more local Design stories, click here. Also, don’t forget to follow HQB News on our social channels. You can find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.