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Victorian woman Nikki Williams found herself on a downward spiral: she was drinking every day, sometimes until 3am. But not only did she give up alcohol, she created a unique digital gift card company which gives people access to a range of health and wellness providers, such as psychology, massage, yoga and even martial art classes! Here, she tells Lifestyle News about her journey which led to creating a world-first product.

Q: Tell me a little about your drinking when you worked in hospitality.

A: Drinking was a part of the hospitality culture, and it still is. This is where I formed a bit of a habit of having a few knock offs with everyone, but then continuing into the night, sometimes even into the next day or even two days - without sleeping.

I'd hate to count the number of days I spent in bed, almost unable to speak or get up - honestly, I don't know how I did it.

It was only in the last couple of years that I realised I enjoyed drinking because it allowed other people around me to open up and have deeper conversations with one another.

This is what I was always longing for, and yet it was me that could have these conversations without alcohol.

This is where I realised that I didn't need to drink, and that in fact, I could find people who could have deeper connections with people in a sober state.

I've been sober for a long while now and instead of drinking or being hungover, I have a daily yoga practice,

I'm up at 4:50am every day and love to meditate and do breathwork. How things have changed, but I've never felt better.

Q: What happened during the COVID lockdowns?

A: Covid was where my habit got worse. I had one day towards the end of Covid where I had just broken up with a partner, I was living in an incredible warehouse that started to feel like a prison and a neighbour had sexually intimidated me.

This was easily my lowest day on record - literally staring at my fireplace drinking red wine after an all nighter, half crying and half singing.

It may sound like a funny scenario, but what was going through my head was very dark and I wouldn't wish for anyone to go there.

Thank God I had started getting into yoga during Covid though and even if many friends laughed at me for being a hippy, the practice has kind of saved me from some dangerous paths.

So all in all, Covid allowed for both wonderful things to happen in terms of connecting more deeply with my close circle, but it also led me to my darkest days.

It was the time after yoga where I explored the world and stuck to learning about yoga (and doing my yoga teacher training) that things started to improve, and in fact the practice of yoga has anchored me into making sure I don't drink any more, that I stay healthy and most importantly, stay accountable to myself.

Nikki Williams
Nikki Williams

Q: Tell me, how did you come up with the idea for Mentwell?

A: I was working for a luxury gifting company through my other business which is a digital agency.

We were asked to take a bunch of influencers and media on a superyacht on Sydney Harbour and the day mainly consisted of drinking champagne and eating amazing seafood.

Usually these sorts of events would leave me feeling ridiculously lucky for my situation and job, but on this occasion, it didn't.

I was feeling pretty flat and in fact, I felt like something was wrong - why were we giving people these experiences when our bare basic needs weren't being met?

And so, I came up with the idea of one another being able to help pay for psychology appointments given there was so much talk around mental health support and the financial barriers associated with getting professional help.

From here though, I went on a year and a half trip around the world, and ended up doing a daily yoga practice and tested and tried a number of different health and wellness service providers and modalities.

It was through this experience that I understood the need for information around how to use complementary and alternative based therapies alongside talk therapy.

If you had known me before I went on this trip, you honestly wouldn't recognise the person I am now..

Q: Have you been surprised by its popularity?

A: Yes! We've spoken to thousands of people over the last year about Mentwell and there's been a buzz about the business even before we launched last month.

Now we have corporate partners on board and sales coming through - it's so good to see!

Q: How does it work?

A: Head to and click buy a gift card. Enter your details and the person you'd like to send it to, plus how much you'd like to gift them.

Then the receiver will validate their card with their own details and put the card into their digital wallet.

The next time they want to book or pay for a health or wellness related appointment or relevant product, they can pay in person via EFT or online using the card details provided. It's as easy as tap and go. Q: Anything else you would like to share?

A: Mentwell is my life's work and I truly believe that given what's happening in the world both abroad and locally, now is when we need to show care and empathy towards each other more than ever.

On a more practical note, we also need to be more conscious about how we spend our hard earned money.

Mentwell is a solution for this time in history and it's an easy solution to making sure we can all look after ourselves, whilst opening up spaces for deeper, sometimes more challenging conversations.

It's through mutual understanding and sharing of difficult subject matter that we create the deepest of connections with one another.



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