Local t-shirt brand benefits mental health

When her brother was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder several years ago, Meridith Casey searched for a way to give back to patients suffering from similar illnesses. Her cause, which has grown into a deep passion for helping others, is also an emerging fashion brand with a mission.

In May 2015, she launched Maniac Inc., a casual, contemporary t-shirt line, as a way to open a dialogue about mental health and provide aid to patients. Proceeds from the brand are donated to the Dallas Child and Family Guidance Center, an organization that strives to provide care for mental health patients and their families.

“We have the tag on the outside of the t-shirts, that say Maniac, so when you wear them, people might ask about it, and it’s kind of a way to get people talking,” Casey said.

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Scoop Neck T, $88. Photo credit: Maniac Inc.

Born out of a desire to give back, the line features t-shirts, cardigans and loungewear in comfortable knit fabrics that can be integrated into every woman’s wardrobe. Maniac’s clientele covers a wide age range, with pieces that reflect a thoughtful approach to fit and style.

“They know what works for their body, and they know what colors they need in their wardrobe, and they’re not afraid to spend a little more money on quality,” Casey explained.

Her shirts range in price from $58 to $132, and the line offers everything from a basic white tee to classic styles with a twist, with each item produced by local Dallas manufacturers. Casey’s love of style runs as deep as her devotion to the cause, and she has her friends, including her “chief advice giver,” Kim Schlachter, to help along the way.

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Your Favorite V-neck T, $72. Photo credit: Maniac Inc.

“We’re all fashionistas. We’ve always been into it. When we shop we call it book club. We walk around and touch and feel fabrics, and look at cuts, and we might say ‘oh this is cute but it needs to be longer in the back, or shorter in the front or narrower here.’ So, for years we’ve been doing that, so we just finally decided let’s do our own thing,” Casey said.

The need for action is apparent. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 4.2 percent of adults in the U.S. were diagnosed with serious mental illness in 2013. And as the brand grows, Casey envisions expanding outside of Texas and reaching out to more and more charities.

“We’re wanting to have fun along the way with it, to break the stigma,” Casey said.

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