Photos by Vania Stoyanova
Hannah Lucas is a 17-year-old entrepreneur who developed POTS, a condition that causes her to faint. As a teenager, she dealt with depression, wishing someone knew she was not okay during low moments. She came to the idea of the notOK App – an app where there is a button to press, immediately alerting someone that they are not okay. With the stabilization of her condition, Hannah pursued her entrepreneurial endeavor and created the app to help people feel like they are not alone.
BL: Hannah, could you talk to me about your background? Where are you from?
Hannah: I am 17 years old and a high school junior about 30 minutes north of Atlanta.
BL: Can you tell me about POTS and how that affected your childhood?
Hannah: POTS is a dysautonomic condition that makes me faint. I basically have super low blood volume and weird blood pressure regulation.
Showing symptoms for POTS in middle and high school was a really confusing time in my life. First, because I was in middle school and dealing with middle school problems. And secondly, because dizziness and brain fog are the symptoms I suffer from the most. These symptoms make it really challenging to focus on school and take an active role in my life. I often felt as if my brain was broken compared to my classmates.
BL: Why did you create the notOK App?
Hannah: notOK was created when I was a chronically ill freshman in high school. I was bullied, harassed, and threatened. It really shook my confidence and influenced my desire to change things about myself. Things like my skin color, weight, hair texture, and health. With all of this self-hatred bottled up, it seemed like I had nowhere else to turn so I began a struggle with self-harm and bulimia. One night it got so bad, I decided the only way to stop the pain was to go to sleep permanently. Luckily, my mom checked on me in my room that night. She saved my life. I knew that I couldn’t go on like this, never asking for help. That’s when the idea for notOK came to me… because of the desperate need, I and so many others feel.
Yes, notOK was originally just for me, but the more research I did, the more stories I found. Stories just like mine. Stories different than mine. Stories worse than mine. Even when I wanted to buckle under the pressure during developing the app, these stories were the fuel burning in my heart to keep me going. Asking for help IS ok. No one is perfect, even Beyonce falls. And that is OK!
BL: How did you get notOK going? Did you have support?
Hannah: When I first told my brother about notOK, we would go to the library after school and during weekends to do research and make a business outline. Then when summer vacay came around, we told our parents about it and they put us in coding and business camps.
BL: What were some of the challenges you faced while creating notOk as a teenager?
Hannah: The biggest challenge of creating notOK as a teen was simply that: getting people to see an impactful app instead of two adorable “kids”.
BL: What advice would you give to girls who want to become an entrepreneur?
Hannah: Everything around you is just white noise. The more you focus on it, the louder it will seem. But on the flip side, the less you pay attention to all the toxicity in your life, the less it affects you. You just keep your head up and get your grind on.
BL: What advice would you give to girls who are struggling with depression and anxiety?
Hannah: I know you guys are struggling. Your struggles are valid despite however big or small it may seem compared to other people’s lives. Even though they are valid, those obstacles do NOT define you and you will make it through stronger than ever.
BL: Who are your role models and why?
Hannah: My role model is the future Hannah. Every time I need an extra boost, I’ll close my eyes and think about everything I can do and will become.
BL: What can we expect next from you?
Hannah: You can expect to see me everywhere you look within the next 4 years. I plan to launch another business in the fashion tech industry and become more involved with politics in college.
BL: What do you like to do with your friends?
Hannah: I have the best friend group imaginable. All of my friends are super supportive, funny, and perfectly nerdy. So we either send memes back and forth or we talk about the new Marvel movies and trailers.
BL: What superpower would you choose to have?
Hannah: I would have the power to grant my own limitless wishes.
BL: What kind of music do you like? Who are your favorite artists?
Hannah: Honestly, I like all genres of music except country (Beyonce’s Daddy’s Lessons, c’mon). And my top three artists are without a doubt: Kendrick Lamar, Jennifer Lopez (because… duh Jenny from the Block), and Chloe x Halle.
BL: If you could tell your 13-year-old-self something, what would it be?
Hannah: I would tell myself the idea of “flawlessness” is the mask people use to hide their insecurities. Don’t let that influence you. Keep ignoring people’s opinions.