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Manda Bees Turns Problem into Profit

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WARREN, Ohio – At 29, Amanda Chine is still in awe at the number of headbands she has sold after starting her own business, Manda Bees, five years ago.

“I can’t believe no one else has made headbands like this,” she says. “I tell people I sell headbands. And they think, ‘Oh, that’s cute,’ but they don’t understand we sell thousands of headbands.”

As every entrepreneur knows, it’s not easy to start a business, especially when the founder is young and inexperienced.

Amanda Chine became an entrepreneur by accident.

She instructed fitness classes in yoga, pilates and cycling. Before each class, she put on a headband to hold her hair back. All, regardless of brand, gave her a headache because they pulled her hair or couldn’t be adjusted to fit comfortably. One day, Chine says, she went to JoAnn Fabrics to buy her own material, then used her grandmother’s sewing machine to make the headband she needed.

At her next class, people asked her where she got the headband. She laughed and told them, “I made this myself. You don’t want this.”

Eventually she made a few headbands for the people who asked for one like hers. The gym owner asked her if she would like to make and sell some of her headbands at the front desk. They sold out quickly and she realized she was on to something.

Chine started selling headbands on Etsy, an e-commerce site focused on handmade and vintage items. “The advertising within that marketplace was awesome because it broadcasted my product to the world,” Chine says. “It wasn’t until I started getting reviews on there that I found I had something that hasn’t been made before.”

Now, five years later, her product is sold in eight stores and from her own website she ships across the United States.

She frequently travels to festivals across the country where she can sell up to 8,000 headbands in two weeks.

The headbands come in hundreds of patterns, including those she designs based on a customer’s description. A local artist draws most of the patterns, forwarded to a domestic fabric manufacturer that prints the fabric only for Manda Bees.

In addition, Chine sells germ- and odor-resistant bands that are popular among nurses, restaurant workers and campers.

She employs five who help her turn out the headbands. She markets her products on social media, where awareness of her headbands is growing. “A lot of our interaction with the customer base comes from social media,” she says. “They’ll tell us what they want so we make it.”

Chine has a patent pending on her headband and will open her own boutique later this year on the first floor of The Box Gallery in downtown Warren.

“When I first started out, I had to go back to the drawing board 100 times. You have to get through those roadblocks,” Chine says. “You have to be willing to dedicate all your time to it and really go 100,000%, or else it’s not going to work.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.