How Farrynheight Advocates For Mental Wellness in the Workplace
By Karin Eldor
Set the tone. This has been brand and marketing agency Farrynheight’s M.O. for over two years now. Simply put: it’s a way to start the week off with a provocative saying, such as “Slow Down To Speed Up” and “Let The Fear In,” which doubles as a mantra and a way of setting intentions.
For Farrynheight — a 30-person, female-founded and female-led team on a mission to raise values-driven brands — its signature “set the tone” meetings are a place for team members to gather for one hour, and collectively share what’s on their mind and on their radar. This is a key component of the culture at Farrynheight, launched by award-winning brand marketer and advisor, Farryn Weiner.
For Weiner, whose role as global director of digital and social communications for Michael Kors Worldwide earned her a spot in 2014’s Forbes “30 Under 30” in the Marketing & Advertising category, setting the tone is about “proactive manifestation or goal setting, without the fear that you’re in it alone, but rather in it together.”
As of today ‘set the tone’ is making waves — or generating reverbs — in the most impactful way possible: the tones are serving as the main content in a coffee table book published by team Farrynheight, with 100% of the proceeds being donated to the millennial-driven mental health nonprofit, Project Healthy Minds.
The book, Set The Tone: A Book of Modern Mantras, is a physical compilation of 52 of Farrynheight’s ‘greatest hits’ of tones or mantras. The tones are interpreted by a broad range of artists and visionaries hailing from different art forms, and the book aims to continue the conversation around the importance of mental health awareness and the creative struggle to avoid burnout. Set The Tone drops today, its release date by design: it was timed in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month.
Among the 52 artists featured are Hannah Polskin, Gab Bois, Bella McGoldrick, Helga Stenzel, Joe Horner, Rob Woodcox, Anna Bukliewer, Ken Kelleher, Cameron Burns, Gaia Barnatan, Maria Luneva, and Austyn Weiner.
Project Healthy Minds is committed to changing the narrative around mental health and removing the stigma that comes along with discussing these issues openly. “Their approach resonates with the team at Farrynheight, as we aim to give our team the space to navigate their own mental wellness journey with the support of our community,” Weiner shares.
This is a beautiful example of art imitating life, as the book celebrates a key part of Farrynheight’s culture.
The first “Set the Tone” meet-up took place on April 5, 2020 — at the very start of the pandemic. Its goal was to establish a sense of presence and support during challenging moments, and create a safe space to honestly discuss the human and entrepreneurial experience. It was also a way to open up topics to Farrynheight’s social community to foster conversation — by setting the tone for each week, with opportunities for reflection and growth both as a team, and as individuals.
“Set the tone really comes from this idea of choice,” Weiner explains. “At any moment, you have a choice of how to show up in the world, how to respond to things, and then how to act on them. You also have a choice of how you’re going to approach every single week, every single month, and every single day. So setting the tone is really the opportunity for us to establish that moment of choice and say, ‘How are we going to approach what’s right in front of us, to really lean into that moment?’”
Consider setting the tone as a way to gage the temperature. A kind of vibe check, where team members also candidly and openly share if they’re currently an ‘8 on 10’ or more like a ‘2 on 10’.
With sayings like “Control the Ball” and “Curiosity Kills Criticism,” setting the tone is a way to commit to a new way of thinking, for the week.
“Set the tone is our way of prioritizing mental well-being as a core tenet of our philosophy. We dedicate an hour each week to these important conversations, creating space for reflection, connection and growth. It’s never been more important that as employers, as leaders, and as people, we are supporting one another. These dialogues help us find understanding and support in moments that can feel deeply personal and isolating. This book features 52 of our most memorable, inspiring tones alongside interpretations by 52 change-making artists. Each unique piece of artwork brings life and dimension to our intentions, sparking important conversations, challenging our ways of thinking, and setting a positive tone for our work and our lives.”
Weiner seeks to showcase how supporting mental wellness — in the workplace and beyond — can start with small actions. And that creating space for critical, honest conversations can truly make an impact. To drive the mantras and missions even further, there’s also an out of home campaign where tones are plastered all over L.A., Miami and NYC, as well as merch like keytags, crewnecks and bucket hats (featuring the phrase “Get Out Of Your Head”).
“I think even for me as a leader, recognizing that vulnerability can play such an important role in building a strong team and building a strong culture was critical. By sharing what I was struggling with — or how I was thriving — with my team, I was able to unlock this understanding that we’re really in it together. And I think that’s how teams are really born and teams are really built.”
Weiner’s rich experience as a storyteller, brand builder, team leader, and founder comes from over 15 years running global marketing for powerhouse brands like Sweetgreen and Michael Kors.
The agency launched the Farrynheight Podcast as an audio destination “at the intersection of life and work.” It’s a place where Weiner, her team, and guests are invited to tackle how to interchangeably build a brand, a team and a life. It celebrates “the blurred lines between founders and followers, brand architects and life-livers, problem solvers and go-getters.”
The podcast tackles topics like burnout and chronic ‘workaholicism’, influence, redefining success, authentic vulnerability, and more.
“Part of the Farrynheight ethos is that we want to create value and opportunity for everyone, and that was part of the inspiration behind launching our podcast,” Weiner continues. “It was also part of the reason behind launching our hotline during COVID. It was a brand crisis hotline, where we were literally on the phone all night and day with brands and businesses that were struggling. One area of value we felt we could add was by offering our perspective as marketers and brand leaders.”
As for how to manage the burnout struggle that creatives, and so many people, face?
Weiner offers this advice:
“Find an ecosystem that works for you to prioritize your mental health and well-being. Raise a hand for what you both can give and for what you need — I think that’s what the Set The Tone book is really for. It’s meant to provoke thought, dialogue, conversation. It’s meant to connect us in ways that make us feel like we’re not alone. So for anyone out there who’s hustling and trying to build a career and build a life — this is a book for them. And hopefully it will inspire them to take that pause, set the tone, make a choice, and put themselves first.”