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Brand Spotlight: AILA Cosmetics

Today's post is a guest blog by board-certified Podiatric Surgeon, Dr. Cary Gannon and founder of AILA Cosmetics. We're proud to be working with Dr. Cary and AILA, especially because AILA lacquers are physician-developed, 8-free, paraben free, gluten free, cruelty free, vegan and made right here in Nashville! Thank you, Dr. Cary for sharing what inspired you to start AILA.

“Balance, peace, and joy are the fruit of a successful life. It starts with recognizing your talents and finding ways to serve others by using them.” -Thomas Kinkade
Dr. Cary Gannon. Founder, AILA Cosmetics

Dr. Cary Gannon. Founder, AILA Cosmetics

I’ve never met an uphill climb I wasn’t totally attracted to, and developing AILA Cosmetics would certainly qualify as a climb. A few years ago, I found myself hit with a series of mentally and emotionally exhausting plaques: a rare cancer scare, an unhappy marriage, an all-encompassing surgical practice and my youngest daughter, Aila, suffering with a then undiagnosed disorder (Sensory Processing Disorder - SPD). All of this was happening at the same time and, outwardly, it looked like I was managing all of it well. Nothing fell through the cracks. Everyone in my personal life - and in my surgical practice - were getting equal amounts of my attention (do that math with just twenty four hours in a day!) and, even though I’d been dealing with all those major life-altering circumstances, I wasn’t showing any signs of wear and tear.

But I was worn…and torn.

I was what I now call a chronic over-functioner. An over-functioner is different than an overachiever. Let me explain.

Overachiever: a person who sets one extremely challenging goal at a time, works very hard and achieves it every time.

Over-functioner: a person who successfully manages way too many things extremely well until they mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually implode and can’t manage any of them at all.

Over-functioning always results in a sneak attack of inevitable meltdown. If not kept in check, over-functioning causes everything to crash – in dramatic fashion – like an eight-foot Jenga tower.

My inevitable meltdown came suddenly. I didn’t know it, but I was a ticking time bomb. One day, my resolve just shut down. I literally didn’t have the strength to continue one more day in my organized chaos. I had been quietly sinking in beautifully packaged quicksand and, before I knew it, I was almost completely covered. At my wits end, I called a friend and said, “I’m not okay. Please come get me.” Rather than taking me to a bar, she took me to Whole Foods, introduced me to my first wheatgrass shot and said, “This is it. You have to start taking better care of yourself…and you start right now.”


I know it sounds cliché, but it really was my light switch moment. I immediately became acutely aware of all things toxic: people, relationships, habits, foods and products. I did an overhaul in every area of my life and saw almost immediate relief from the toxicity the havoc that hidden stress was wreaking.

Then I hit a professional wall. I was selling a nail product through my practice, and a patient asked about the ingredients. After inquiring several times with the manufacturer, I got no answers. Since I was on a roll with eliminating everything that wasn’t making sense in my life, I took matters into my own hands professionally, too. I knew I had to make changes that would matter. They had to matter, not only for myself, but also for my patients and, ultimately, for women in general. The idea that my or anyone’s health has to be compromised for beauty is unacceptable to me. So, I decided to make my passion for healthy beauty a tangible entity that is available to everyone.

It was out of this passion that AILA Cosmetics was born.

8 free nail lacquer
AILA cosmetics nashville

I named the brand after Aila to honor the courage she exhibits in her journey to conquer SPD. In developing AILA Cosmetics, I found balance in my life by intentionally marrying the words health, beauty and function into a thoughtfully curated collection of products that empowers women to never settle for less than they’re worth. I’m inspired by the people (and their stories) who have made AILA Cosmetics a reality, and our AILA Gives initiative is our way of honoring the people behind those stories, and giving back to those who have selflessly given so much to us.

Today, I’m grateful for the personal and professional crossroads that led to the launch of AILA. I’ve met countless over-functioning women across multiple professions and in all walks of life who completely identify with my story. Sometimes, it’s enough just to know we’re not alone.

And sometimes we just want to get gorgeous…for ourselves.

You can connect with AILA on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook and by following their hashtag, #LoveAILA!

- Karen & Sherri

What is 5 Free?

We want your experience at Poppy & Monroe to be safe and hygienic and part of that means we have chosen to use products that are 5-Free and that do not contain any of the following harmful chemicals:

Toluene - A clear liquid, toluene is used as a solvent (think paint thinners!) and can also be found in fuel. Inhaling toluene can cause neurological harm and that's not something we want anywhere in our shop.

Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP) - DBP is used to make plastics flexible and as an additive to adhesives. DBP has been banned in the EU, and permanently banned in the production of children's toys.

Formaldehyde - Found in embalming fluid, paint and paint thinners, it is also listed as a known carcinogen.

Formaldehyde Resin - A skin allergen known to cause dermatitis. Your skin shouldn't ever feel anything except soft and refreshed after you've spent time with us!

Camphor - Inhaling camphor can cause dizziness, nausea and headaches. Not only do we want you to feel safe here, we also want to take care of our nail artists who work with these lacquers and polishes all day!

You can also visit our friends at AILA Cosmetics and Treat to see what they have to say about 5-Free!

- Sherri & Karen