From a scary cancer diagnosis to a happy remission, Amanda has turned adversity on its head and started a pretty fabulous home-based nail polish business. This is her inspirational story.
Amanda was born in Phoenix, Arizona, but her family relocated to a small town in Arkansas, where she spent most of her life. When she was considering what field to go into, she decided on optometry. She applied to schools all over the country and chose a fabulous school back in her hometown, and has lived back in Phoenix for two and a half years now.
She met her husband, Jason, in 2004 when he transferred to a Best Buy where she was working. “I always tell him that I knew I was going to marry him from the moment I first laid eyes on him,” she remembered. “That line usually gets him to do stuff for me.” They have now been married for four happy years.
In early 2012, Amanda noticed that she had a bump on the side of her neck. It bothered her, and no matter how much time passed, it didn’t go away. She finally showed it to Jason on March 31st. He was concerned, and urged her to go see a doctor. “What I thought was going to be a quick trip in to one of those small clinics inside of a CVS store, led to a plea from the nurse to go to an Urgent Care immediately — which led to a plea from that staff to go to a hospital immediately,” she explained.
She phoned Jason, who rushed to be by her side, and they spent a couple of anxious hours awaiting an answer. When the doctor finally came in and gave her a diagnosis of Stage 2B Hodgkin's Lymphoma, she and Jason were understandably upset. “We desperately wanted it to be a bad April Fool's joke,” she said.
While Amanda was undergoing chemotherapy, she found herself in a depressed state of mind and was spending a lot of time indoors. “I was sick and miserable and in this perpetual funk that left me cooped up inside my home all day every day for weeks,” she shared. “This led to an increase in my addiction for online shopping, so I started buying lots of nail polish and rekindling an old obsession.”
She was able to discover, via social media and the rest of the online world, a network of women who were as passionate about polish as she was. This led her to try independent brands that she normally wouldn’t have known about and led her to friendships that she wouldn’t have been able to discover otherwise.
Amanda’s cancer went into remission in October 2012 — and beating cancer was what motivated Amanda to create her nail polish company. “When I was cooped up in my home feeling sorry for myself and watching all of these amazing women do great things with something as simple as nail polish, I thought why not give it a go myself?” she said.
Being a self-professed “nerd,” Amanda chose the name Chirality to reflect her love of science. “The term chirality comes from a molecule having a non-superimposable mirror image,” she explained. “A good example would be your hands — they're mirror images of each other and yet they're both shaped differently. It's an interesting concept, I thought. Plus, the name just sounds pretty!”
All of Amanda’s polishes are considered “3 free,” which means that they are free of the three major toxic chemicals: Dibutyl phthalate (dbp), formaldehyde and toluene. She is also conscious about ensuring the ingredients are also cruelty-free. “This means that none of my ingredients nor the final product is tested on animals — regardless of how much I would like to see my dog wearing nail polish!” she said.
She has honed her processing time down quite a bit with plenty of experience and priceless help from her husband. “Just making one batch of one particular color was taking me upwards of several hours,” she told us. “However, after months of fine-tuning my craft, trial and error, and putting my husband to work, I have streamlined the process to where now I can get many colors made, bottled and processed in just over an hour.”
There are challenges as well as major benefits to being a small business owner, Amanda said. For example, since October, Chirality has really taken off. “Don't get me wrong, it's great, but there is definitely a challenge in trying to balance running a successful business while going to Optometry school and maintaining a personal life with my family,” she explained.
The benefits are immeasurable, though. She gets the satisfaction of being able to open her Facebook page and have direct interaction and conversations with her customers and fans.
Her husband has been there for her from day one, rooting her on and being involved in the day-to-day operations. “He started out just being a hand with nails I could paint on and has gone on to pouring the bottles, packaging everything, marketing, and even helping out with all of my web content,” she happily shared. “He's amazing! I don't know where I would be without him today.”
Amanda hopes that Chirality continues its growth and that she is able to reach even more fans with her creative polish names and excellent product. “The Cereal Killer line (with names that paired famous serial killers with popular breakfast cereals) got off to a rocky start when a lot of people failed to see the humor in it and sent me ugly messages, but then a thousand people joined overnight and bought my entire stock,” she remembered. “Even more people came in when I introduced my Science/Math line of holos in February. Now I'm trying to work on the second half of my Cereal Killer line, a line based on Philosophy and Logic, and a horror movie line (which I promised my husband I would do since he's a big horror movie nerd).”
If you’re looking to start your own business, Amanda has seasoned advice for you. Be original, use quality materials and price fair. “Also, test everything,” she advised. “Whether you're a big or small business, the slightest problem can really hurt. It's easier for bigger ones to bounce back, but a small business can burn to the ground in a matter of seconds over just about anything involving shoddy product.”
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