AMANDA / DESIGNER ROCKS WITH SASS / COLUMBUS OH
When I first met Amanda, I admired her immediately because she was straightforward, talented and laughed a ton. We became fast and sassy friends and I was always stunned by her ability to be in a constant state of kick ass. About a year after meeting, Amanda’s Crohn’s Disease, uninvited, crashed her life party. She was at one of the lowest points in her life, so she did what any of us would do—she worked 10-12 hour days, hosted friends to wrap gifts to children in need, fundraised for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation Walk and started a business Rocks With Sass. When I talk to Amanda, I am always genuinely moved because simply being in her presence reminds you to do and be more. So meet Amanda, she’s in full freakin’ Bloom.
HOW WILL YOU BLOOM IN 2016?
I am already blooming! I am in full bloom, because I am happy and doing what I love, which is such a drastic change from where I was. About a year ago, I was at the second lowest point in my life. I was struggling to eat, weighed 80 pounds and stressed at my job. Living with Crohn’s Disease meant going through ups and downs that were out of my control. I realized that if I didn’t make a change, I would end up in the hospital so I decided to resign from my job with my only goal being to get healthy. I told myself that I was going to take life day by day and do whatever made me happy. It has been 11 months now and I have rediscovered my passion for jewelry, photography and art. I work a flexible schedule and try to do whatever is calling me that day. It has been an amazing first year and I never want to go back.
"Your healing process will have its ups and downs, but you have to focus on the end goal of a healthy, happy you and know that is possible. You are not condemned to your diagnosis. It is possible to get to a good place."
WHAT WAS YOUR INSPIRATION FOR STARTING YOUR JEWELRY BUSINESS, ROCKS WITH SASS?
I have always been mesmerized by anything sparkly, so I started buying rocks online. The geodes were so pretty and essentially wearable art. Soon after starting my rock collection, I launched the Etsy site that has now become an independent website, Rocks with Sass, with the intention of donating 100% of the proceeds to benefit my first Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) walk. After only a couple months, my team of family and friends raised $10,000! I genuinely could not believe it; I was so blown away by all of the love and generosity.
After the walk, I decided to turn this passion into a business. I started selling my jewelry on Etsy and attending art shows and markets in the Columbus, Ohio area.It’s fun to interact with the customers first hand, especially kids, because so many are convinced that the crystals are worth a million bucks! This enthusiasm and love for the brand reminds me that I’m on the right path. I continue to donate a portion of each sale to the CCFA as it’s a way for me to continually connect with my customers and hear their inspiring stories. In many cases, people living with invisible diseases look normal on the outside, but on the inside, are torn up physically and emotionally which makes it hard to empathize because you can’t see the pain. Rocks with Sass has grown into more than a business and is now a community where people can be vulnerable and supportive.
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF LONG TERM?
My goal is to get to a point where Rocks with Sass is not only supporting my day-to-day expenses, but also helping to fulfill my long-term retirement goals. I am successful in that I have reached my happiness and health targets, so now I need to push it further. I see online shops that have to schedule their updates because they sell out so quickly. I want to sell out that fast! My dream is to create a cohesive collection, launch it and have it sell out same day. I would be happy doing that forever.
Outside of my career, I want to be a strong, healthy yoga girl. Because of my illness, I had never considered myself a physically strong person, but after practicing yoga, I feel like I am finally building strength! I go to class five times a week and I love that I sweat and meditate in the same session. The meditation practice has helped tremendously when it comes to stress. I hold my emotions in my stomach, which can aggravate my Crohn’s symptoms. I finally feel in control.
LASTLY, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE WITH CROHN'S GOING THROUGH A LOW POINT?
I would say that it is okay to be angry at your situation. For years, I acted as if everything was fine. I held everything inside until I burst and then I would do it all over again. Finally, I got to a point when I realized that it was okay to be angry for a moment, move through the acceptance phase and start to love myself again. Your healing process will have its ups and downs, but you have to focus on the end goal of a healthy, happy you and know that is possible. You are not condemned to your diagnosis. It is possible to get to a good place.