Media has painted a violent picture of the daily experience that children growing up in South Central face. While the frequency of drug and crime exposure may have lessened over the years, this community’s residents battle hardships everyday. Studies show that 27.8% of South Central’s population is living below the poverty line. The region’s rate is over double the current number for California and the US, indicating that struggling financially is common.
Additionally, only 8% of residents have received a Bachelor’s, which is significantly lower than the federal rate of 35%. This data confirms that South Central youth may be influenced to engage in criminal or drug related activities, making it difficult for some to excel academically and build generational wealth.
Tim Cozine is one of these individuals who was raised in South Central Los Angeles and is working to spread the message of mental health awareness as someone who has struggled due to his adversities in life. Brought up by his spiritual and artistic mother and serious but kind-hearted father, Tim was constantly reminded of the greatness he could achieve.
Tim attended private school for this reason. His parents hoped that keeping him away from negative influences in school and on the streets would allow him to find his passion and stay safe. While they were mostly right, Tim experienced many obstacles with his upbringing. Going to school in LA’s posh areas with wealthy students and coming home to the rougher, more grim side of the city was a sobering thing for him. It allowed Tim to have better opportunities than some of his friends, but it also saddened him. Thinking about the fundamental differences his classmates had in life compared to what he was going through at home was a constant reminder that he had to work harder to get to where they already were.
As Tim began middle school, his mother’s mental health was worsening. She was bipolar, which kept Tim from seeing her often. This led to him investing much more time and attention into extracurriculars like track, football, and basketball as well as experimenting with visual arts and music.
Unfortunately, things became harder once Tim’s grandmother passed when he was 11. For the next few years, the grief weighed so heavily on Tim that he didn’t take part in things that interested him until he started a progressive liberal arts school. There, Tim took refuge in poetry, songwriting, and later the drums. His spirit brightened and he looked forward to the future.
Once Tim began highschool, his family moved to a motel and his father’s health was declining. This was unexpected and hard for Tim to cope with as he just wanted things to stay positive. He used graffiti, streetwear, and his friend group as an escape from this. Tim was steadily learning how to express himself through creative activities that would later become the basis of his company Nyn to Fyv.
Tim Cozine, the CEO and founder of The Cozy Agency
By the end of highschool, Tim was planning to go to college on a basketball scholarship. Unfortunately, he became injured and wasn’t admitted to his preferred school. Tim then decided to go to any university that was far enough away to let him feel like he was escaping his problems. This decision brought great things in the form of new friendships and athletic experiences, but Tim had trouble performing academically as everyday felt like a struggle.
“Yes everyday was a struggle, but we all go through struggles and getting through that is what makes us grow. For me joining the football team was the turning point. It taught me discipline, The glory of victory, the pain of loss, brotherhood, working towards a common cause, the sacrifice that comes with becoming a champion, and most of all the power of overcoming adversity.”
Tim’s father’s health only worsened over the years until he passed two months after Tim graduated from university. As the only one to take care of his mother and older half sister, Tim felt like he had no time to grieve. He was only focused on caring financially for his loved ones. This caused him to bury his emotions in work for multiple years. The main reason why he finally stopped to process years of trauma was because of his mother’s death three years later in a car accident.
Her passing triggered the previous trauma and a deep state of depression for Tim. He had a support system with his current partner and close friends, but things only began to improve once Tim took a leave from work to focus on himself.
During those three months, he explored entrepreneurship as he no longer wanted to keep working a job that wasn’t his passion. Nyn to Fyv, Tim’s clothing brand, was the catalyst for his mental health to improve and for him to reinvest in his future.
By selling clothing, mostly t-shirts and hats, with motivational messages, Tim was able to reconnect with himself and start conversations about mental health. The company specifically does this with its slogan “More than a job title,” which aims to remind people that their line of work doesn’t define who they are internally and that professional success isn’t the end-all-be-all of a life full of bumpy roads.
As Tim has built Nyn to Fyv, it has allowed him to learn new skills, push himself to be better, and encourage people to be honest about their mental health challenges without shame. Looking toward the future, Tim plans to expand his design options and develop videos that carry an accessible message about seeking help when you are facing distressing situations.
“My pain is what has created the love of my life, which is Nyn to Fyv, my clothing brand, and if I were able to do this every day for the rest of my life, I would be very happy because all I want to do is show people that no matter what they’ve seen, felt, or experienced in life, it can be overcome,” says Tim Cozine, “I’m someone that learns to transmute hardship, adversity, and every negative thing that has happened into a motivator to keep going. I may not be an expert in doing that, but I want people to use Nyn to Fyv to allow people to know that this is something we all have in us”
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