Nineteen year old Valentine Mirzayantz, founder of THE ASTHMA COLLECTIVE (tac.), suffered mild asthma as a young child growing up in Sydney, Australia. But from age 11, after her father was transferred interstate to Brisbane with his work and the family had to relocate, Valentine’s Asthma worsened dramatically.
From being a mild asthmatic in Sydney, only having to use Ventolin occasionally, Valentine developed acute chronic Asthma and became dependant on steroid puffers to breathe and get through the day. In Year 7 she suffered a major Asthma attack which landed her in hospital for many days. Shortly afterwards, she began to develop acute food allergies. Over the following months Valentine developed more and more allergies to different foods, creams (like sunblock) and certain chemicals and smells. Soon afterwards she was diagnosed as Anaphylactic to a range of foods. She suffered hives in her mouth, over her face, swollen eyes, constant Asthma, Anaphylactic attacks and debilitating exhaustion. From a once healthy child, Valentine became chronically ill.
At the start of High School, Year 8, Valentine’s parents realised they needed to make an urgent decision to help their daughter whose health was spiralling out of control. Remaining living in Brisbane was no longer viable. Valentine’s whole immune system seemed to have collapsed as she became acutely allergic to foods, smells and environmental triggers. During her first week at her new High School, she suffered an Anaphylactic attack from walking into one of the classroom. She was seeing an Asthma specialist, an Allergy specialist and her GP’s almost weekly with no end in sight or improvement. Eventually her diet consisted of four foods – chicken, lettuce, carrot and green apple; these were the only form of substance she could consume without having an allergic reaction.
Valentine’s parents were so desperate to break her cycle of illness that just two months into the first Term at her new school they made the urgent decision to pack up and move to Melbourne – hoping a total change of environment, climate and a new house might aid her condition. Within a few months, the change and the cooler weather conditions did seem to make a difference. Valentine’s food allergies stabilised and, over time, she was gradually able to reintroduce foods back into her diet. However her Asthma remained severe. Frequent trips to the hospital emergency department to help settle Asthma attacks were common.
Valentine’s daily life, particularly her high school years were very difficult due to ongoing Asthma. In Year 12 she missed a total of 33 days of school due to both Asthma and/or allergies. However, despite her poor health she finished school and graduated and in 2020 went on to start University. Then the COVID-19 pandemic turned the world upside down. Being high risk, she had no option but to defer her studies. Whilst this could have been a set-back for Valentine, it turned out to be a truly fortuitous decision. It allowed her to finally stop, rest, think and focus on her health and her future.
“I was so sick of being sick I decided to use 2020 to really take stock of my health and commit to a comprehensive wellness plan,” says Valentine. She had experimented for a few years with diet, exercise and alternative therapies but, up until 2020, never really had the time to devote to getting well. She started to explore alternative therapies again and started regular treatments of Chinese medicine and Acupuncture; these treatments had an incredible impact on improving her immune system and controlling her asthma symptoms. She became super aware and conscious of her asthma “triggers” and started choosing clean, anti-inflammatory foods to support her immune system. She cut out all dairy, gluten and almost all packaged foods adopting a clean Mediterranean style diet. She realized that by making small but meaningful changes to her daily life her asthma symptoms and attacks became less severe and frequent and her overall health and energy improved dramatically.
“2020 was a complete reset for my body and mind,” says Valentine, “and it gave me the space to truly think about my future and reflect upon my life as an Asthmatic. I realised I wanted to do something to help other Asthma sufferers and shed more light on Asthma. In particular, I wanted to establish a world-wide Asthma community to promote health and well-being for Asthmatics and to share information on the Holistic ways Asthma sufferers can find relief – such as through a combination of both Eastern and Western medicine, diet, exercise and meditation.”
As a result of her journey, THE ASTHMA COLLECTIVE was born – an online store and community for Asthmatics.
The tac. store offers a boutique collection of luxe asthma accessories to suit the modern lifestyle of those with Asthma – whether they be children, teens, adults or older Asthmatics. “There can be a lot of stigma when you have Asthma,” says Valentine. “I was constantly embarrassed having to use my Ventolin in front of others. Kids often made fun of me at school and, as a young adult, I never felt comfortable having to use my Ventolin in public.
“When I created THE ASTHMA COLLECTIVE I knew the first product I wanted to develop was a luxury case for Asthma puffers so that anyone with Asthma could feel confident carrying their puffer. I wanted to create something attractive that could be easily attached to handbags, sport bags, school bags or any type of bags. I even clip mine onto my jeans! My desire was to create a lifestyle accessory for Asthmatics. What I love about the Asthma “SKINS” and the ZIP POUCH is that they turn a health negative into a positive. If you need to carry around a Ventolin 24/7 you may as well carry it in style!”
“For me THE ASTHMA COLLECTIVE (tac.) is a journey – and a movement – to inspire all Asthmatics to focus on their health and lead a happy and healthy life – with Asthma.”