Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve witnessed plenty of budding entrepreneurs who have used a change in circumstance to start their own small businesses, from cafes to postal order bakes.

Their tales are nothing short of awe-inspiring, but what’s not often spoken about is the work that goes on behind the scenes and the inevitable strain this cause to their mental health.

Jacky Stabler, 25, started Full Circle bakes after having what she refers to as ‘a bit of a breakdown’ while working in bars across the city.

READ MORE: Have you seen the queues for this Haghill bakery? Here is the story behind Full Circle Bakes

Through determination and raw talent, she went on to achieve a cookery course HND and developed her own bakery in the height of lockdown which has now become a wildly successful shop in Glasgow’s East End.

On paper, it’s the perfect success story, but as an advocate for speaking openly about mental health, Jacky is eager to show people that things aren’t always as they seem.

She said: “Opening the shop has been a real baptism of fire.

“I feel like since March in 2020 I’ve had to work at 150 per cent just to make something of Full Circle Bakes because there was no alternative.

“If it hadn’t worked out then I would have been unemployed with very little access to any form of benefits.”

It’s difficult to explain this ‘do or die’ to anyone who has never worked in hospitality.

Financial stress, long work hours and taking on multiple roles from head baker to social media management can amount to serious amounts of pressure.

Glasgow Times: Pictured: Jacky in her Haghill shop which opened in July last yearPictured: Jacky in her Haghill shop which opened in July last year

Jacky said: “I think there are a lot of issues that are unique to working in the industry.

“For example, I recently had an issue with a customer that felt I was rude in response to a message she had sent about our opening hours.

“Her bad review on Facebook took us down from five stars to four point eight, which might not sound like much, but it took 80 more reviews to get the average back up.

“They even went as far as to find my personal account and send abuse there.

“There’s this idea that when you start a small business you’ve signed yourself up to take anything that’s thrown at you on the chin and not allow yourself to get upset.

“But, to me, that’s such an unhealthy mentality to have. If something has bothered you then you have to allow yourself to feel it or you’ll hold it in until you snap.”

Rather than trying to meet unrealistic standards, Jacky has realised the importance of setting boundaries between her work and personal life, something that unfortunately isn’t easy for many small business owners.

She said: “People really do expect to have 24/7 access to you.

“For example, our shop is only open one day a week at the moment and I’ll have people come in and tell me I could make so much more money if I was open more often.

“But if you’re only open to make money then where is the passion?

“If being open one day a week allows you to provide for your staff, stay afloat and feel healthier for it then there’s no reason not to.

“I mean, if I wanted to be rich, then I wouldn’t have started a bakery, you know?”

“You need to learn to cut yourself a bit of slack.”

READ MORE: Meet the owners and take a sneak peek inside new vegan bakery Plant Blonde

One way that Jacky has found to maintain a sense of wellbeing in her work is to frequently post face-to-camera videos on her social media stories, showing all the ups and downs that come with running a business.

For her, it’s been a vital way to reconnect with her customers and friends, breaking down the idea of a faceless company.

She said: “I think we’re all a little fed up of pretending life is amazing all of the time, especially after the last two years.

“Putting my face out there on my stories might be the best thing I’ve ever done for my business.

"It allows people to see me as a real person, although I do still get people messaging me to say it's unprofessional.

“Not everyone will be comfortable doing that, but it’s been really positive for me.”

Acknowledging that this level of openness is not easy to achieve, Jacky asks to share a clear message for anyone who might find themselves feeling burnt out or low.

She said: “I think we’ve all kind of accepted that the pandemic has left us much more aware of our own mental health.

“It’s not easy, and if you’re struggling with anxiety and depression then it takes so much courage to arrange a visit to your GP, but there shouldn’t be any stigma around seeking treatment.

“I know what it’s like to hit rock bottom, and if there’s any way that I could help someone before they reach that point then that’s all I’d want.

“If there’s anyone reading this, whether you’re in the hospitality industry or not, who has been thinking about seeking help for your mental health then maybe this could be your sign to do so.”

For more information on Full Circle Bakes click here.

For mental health support visit the Samh or Samaritans websites.