Amanda Eddy got into jewelry-making in 2009 because she couldn’t find the simple, dainty, and inexpensive type she preferred to wear. A marketing and communications manager in the tech industry at the time, she took classes at a local jeweler in Austin, Texas, relishing the opportunity to “do something organic” with her hands.
“I was like, ‘I don’t want to pay $500 for a necklace. I want to pay 80 bucks for it, you know?’” Amanda remembers. “I found some materials that were good quality and figured out how to put them together. And I think that idea of dainty, everyday jewelry that doesn’t break the bank, kind of resonated with a lot of people. I put a piece up online to see if I could sell it, and it sold. I was ecstatic!”
With her first sale, the Amanda Deer Jewelry brand was born. Featuring dainty necklaces, bracelets, and rings, she creates jewelry meant to be worn every day. To achieve the intricate designs her customers love, Amanda works with small objects that sometimes require drilling tiny holes or engraving “teeny, tiny, little things” as she describes them. For many jewelers, this process is typical—but Amanda’s story is anything but typical. She was diagnosed with glaucoma, a disease that damages the eye’s optic nerve, at birth.
I’ve lost some sight in my right eye, and obviously, when you’re making dainty jewelry, you need your sight to do that, but it’s something I’m not going to let stop me.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, glaucoma is an eye disease in which high eye pressure causes damage to the optic nerve, leading to loss of vision. Thankfully for Amanda, whose father also has the disease and lost his sight as a child, doctors detected the condition early. Since birth, she has undergone a procedure called a trabeculectomy—a major type of glaucoma surgery—three times. That procedure, plus biannual eye exams, and a series of eyedrops she’s used daily for the past 41 years have helped to prevent Amanda’s glaucoma from becoming worse, but it’s still a battle.
Tools like magnifiers and visors, which jewelry makers already wear, come in particularly handy. Amanda also credits her all-woman team, including three jewelers, who help bring her designs to life.
“I’m so grateful for them because there are some things I just can’t do because of my loss of depth perception,” she says. “Having them be able to understand my [artistic] vision and bring it to life has been really incredible and helpful.”
In 2017, Amanda opened a brick and mortar store in downtown Austin. The same year, she joined Amazon Handmade.
“Handmade gave me a [store] for sellers like me who make things and then sell them. And then Amazon Handmade rolled out Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), and I was like, ‘oh, that’s so cool. I can make stuff and then send it in and FBA will ship it. Then I don’t have to deal with the fulfillment part because that’s a lot of work.’ It’s such a great growth opportunity for small businesses.” Amanda says, excitedly adding, “that being said, oh my gosh, I need to send stuff in. We’ve sold out in everything, which is a good thing!”
For sellers looking to use Fulfillment by Amazon, Amanda recommends having your inventory sent in and ready to go. “We do special discounts, and there’s just more people shopping,” she says. “Amazon does a great job of promoting our deals and getting more people to the Amanda Deer store. So, having inventory in the fulfillment center and ready to ship is key.”
She adds that starting a new business, especially a creative one, can be exhilarating, but it is still a business. “When you start your business, you’re like, ‘oh, this is so fun. I get to design jewelry and meet customers.’”
What she didn’t realize is everything that goes on behind the scenes to makes a business run, like insurance for the store or payroll taxes.
“You have to figure it out, or get somebody to help you figure it out, and then put it into a process…Then you can get back to doing what you love, which for me is designing,” Amanda says.
Amanda credits her husband, parents, and sister for playing a big role in the brand’s early and continued support. “My family is everything to me,” she says, “they’re so incredibly supportive of what I do. My mom, still to this day, will be the first person who comments on my Instagram posts.”
Despite being a busy entrepreneur and mother of a three-year-old, Amanda continues to be a strong advocate for finding a cure for glaucoma. She has worked with the Glaucoma Research Foundation (GRF) for many years to help create awareness about the disease.
“Through GRF, one of the things I do is share my story, especially with new parents who have just had a baby that’s diagnosed with glaucoma, by saying, ‘look, you can still have a completely amazing life!’” Amanda says. “I get messages from worried parents on Facebook that have found me through videos [I’ve done], and I try to tell them my experience: how important it is to go to your eye doctor’s appointment every six months. Don’t miss one! That really makes me feel good, being able to help and share as much as I can.”