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Okanagan woman’s emotional journey reaches 1 million views on YouTube

Mare McHale has built her brand on authenticity

Mare McHale has spent the last seven years looking to build her personal brand online, but little did she know her followers would become her biggest support system.

McHale, known as @redheadmare on social media, began vlogging while on maternity leave.

“It started with me reviewing books or makeup, or motherhood,” McHale said. “It started out quite innocently.”

Topics deepened as her autistic son’s needs expanded and her husband looked to speak with her about anxiety and depression.

“I reached a point where I had a real platform,” McHale said. “Maybe I can make others feel less alone and in turn I’ll feel less alone.”

Her word suddenly changed in June 2017 when her husband took his own life.

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“We had already been very open about his mental health and mine and how we dealt with it,” she said. “And then I was just flooded with videos and comments. And I still get multiple a day from all over the world.”

READ MORE: Getting loud about mental health at the annual Ride Don’t Hide cycling fundraiser across the Okanagan

Her vlog is called The Mareathon and her followers have even begun to tattoo themselves with an arrow like McHale.

“Remember that if you’re going through a really tough time that the arrow is pulled back before it’s shot forward into greatness,” she said of the tattoo’s meaning.

Sometimes being open about her feelings on her vlog leaves her open to those who’d rather be hateful than encouraging.

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And while the thought of closing herself off from the world has crossed her mind, she feels entirely different when she knows a community is waiting to support her online.

“It’s such a weight lifted. I literally have nothing to hide,” she said. “So if I can do that and encourage other people to be vulnerable or to be more authentic – more themselves, stand up for what they want, leave a bad relationship, quit a terrible job, find some self-worth in themselves – the payoff to me is immeasurable.”

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McHale’s work on her vlog and business as a social media expert earned her the BDO Entrepreneur of the Year award last month.