Before coming to The Prince's Trust, Tskenya Fraser, from London struggled with her self-confidence.
“I was outwardly confident but it was a facade that I’d built up through years of having to put on a brave face. I had kidney problems as a child and was bullied both physically and mentally because of it for many years.”
Growing up in Hackney in a working class, single parent family, her mother found it difficult to make ends meet. Her mother then became ill, with Tskenya taking on the role of carer, a role which she still undertakes today.
“Because of the pressure to care for my mother and my own physical health, whilst battling to remain at the top of my class in school, I developed anxiety and depression. This resulted in me being admitted to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) at the age of 15.
“The CBT helped and after managing to get into university to study English Literature, my mental health issues persisted as I had to juggle university, caring for my mum and working 20 hours a week in retail.”
After graduating in 2016, Tskenya was at her lowest. She was taking anti-depressant medication and beta blockers to help ease the physical side of her anxiety whilst hunting for a job.
Tskenya joined the Prince’s Trust Enterprise programme to begin the journey of starting her own business.
“Throughout my life I have not really had anyone to turn to, but my Prince’s Trust mentors and the support staff have always picked up the phone and been present with an attentive ear and wisdom.
Tskenya’s business, a shoe company called TSKENYA, is flourishing and, through its offer of large sized footwear, it has been recognised for helping break down the barriers for LGBTQ+ within fashion, allowing them to shop with ease and comfortability.
“I am currently off my mental health medication and only take beta blockers for days where my anxiety may flare up. In the world we live in, where social media constantly shows you short bursts of people living what they want you to see as their ‘best lives’ you have to make a conscious effort to tell yourself you are smart enough and good enough.
“Alongside the business I currently work as a Learning Mentor on a part-time basis in a pupil referral unit for 14-18 year olds in South London. I know what it feels like to be a troubled young person in need of support, and with the help of my mentors at The Prince's Trust I was able to move forward.”