Amanda Neville, Advocate and Small Business Owner
We discovered this incredible woman by mishap. We were walking down Myrtle in Clinton Hill and saw this cool sign called "Hate Has No Business Here." We continued to walk the block and then discovered every small business had this cool sign.
The next day, July 5th exactly, Timeout New York ran a story on the founder behind this amazing campaign - Amanda Neville. We were determined to find Amanda and interview and learn more about her. So here it is! It was such a joy to get to know this small business owner and advocate, and we hope you do, too! Read her full Spotlight below:
We start every Spotlight question the same: what did you want to be when you grow up?
An international lawyer. (I don’t know where I got that — we didn’t have any lawyers in our family or even know any lawyers.)
Can you share a little bit about your background and all of your endeavors?
I was born and raised overseas while my parents were stationed in Germany. It forced me to develop strong social skills and also made me independent and resilient. My mom was really driven and career-minded and she instilled in me this idea that the only limits to my success were my own imagination. As a result, I have always marched to the beat of my own drum and I’m very goal-oriented. When I decide to do something, I find a way to make it happen.
I look back sometimes and there are lots of things that were hard: I went to law school at night because I couldn’t afford to go full time. I co-founded my first business, a creative agency, before I graduated because the opportunity presented itself and I had the chance to do it with two very talented people. Later, I decided to start over with Three Furies and decided to open the store shortly thereafter. Around the same time, I adopted a little girl from Russia -- she’s Deaf and I had to learn sign language in the middle of becoming a mama. I got really overwhelmed and struggled with anxiety and depression for a long time.
I always start determined but I usually get scared and freak out when it’s too late to turn back. So, I’ve just learned to put one foot in front of the other and chip away at whatever it is and trust that either everything will get better or I’ll know when to make a change. I’ve also learned that you have to take care of yourself -- get enough sleep, exercise, meditate, eat healthy food. The basics go a long way.
How did you get involved with advocacy work and what catapulted, aside from the Trump Administration, for you to launch the Hate Has No Business Here campaign?
I was a volunteer at a retirement home and stuffed envelopes for my first political campaign in high school. I’ve served on boards for nonprofits and have regularly volunteered for campaigns and for organizations I care about so I already had a habit of service and advocacy.
What’s new is the intensity and the sense of urgency. I joined three resistance groups after the election to connect to other activists and because I needed to participate in organized activities, especially during those first few months and connect with other people who were determined to do something. One of them kind of faded away, and I’m still involved with a group called NY4VA that is supporting progressive candidates in Virginia state races this year.
At the same time, I was thinking about ways to build community. To me, it’s connecting with others is at the heart of everything. We were activist in the shop: We printed and stamped postcards to encourage customers to write to their representatives. On inauguration day, we held a fundraiser and invited customers to vote on where to donate the money.
I noticed other businesses along the avenue were also speaking out and I thought it would be cool if we were united in our message and visuals -- if we united, we could send a message of inclusion, tolerance, love and solidarity to our community and to each other. I approached the visionary Executive Director of the Myrtle Avenue BID and she agreed to sponsor a campaign. I convinced a colleague to donate his design time and Hate Has No Business Here was born.
Because you wear so many hats and involved in many organizations (Forbes Contributor, Three Furies, Tipsy, Motherhood, etc.) what is your favorite part of doing-it-all?
I rarely feel guilty or regret for not doing something. In general, I’ve gone for it -- whatever “it” is. It’s both empowering and gratifying. I’m also never bored.
What is your advice for someone who is looking into their own small business while staying true to their beliefs?
Staying true to your beliefs is the only way to be, in business and in life. Alignment is very important to me; a lot of discontent and dissatisfaction comes from being out of alignment. Whatever you do, it has to be tied to your values or else you won’t feel good and it won’t be fun.
What’s next for you – any new big endeavors?
Oh yes. Two major things:
First, I’m transitioning Three Furies, my consultancy, from a creative/strategy agency to an incubator for progressive projects. I know how to get campaigns/teams up and running and now I want to focus on projects that will make a real impact in one way or another. I’d like to continue to working on Hate Has No Business Here in NYC and I’m also working on a project to train people to talk to each other they disagree with on delicate topics (like politics). I have at least three more ideas and I want to bring them to life. I’ve just got to figure the funding part out -- let me know if you know anyone who wants to be my patron.
Secondly, I’m working on a project called Venture+Gain, which aims to convert closed military bases into transition centers for veterans, weaving together vocational training with nutrition, mindfulness and movement education. We are focused on veterans, whose manifold needs exceed the capacity of the VA, and we are targeting bases in rural areas, where BRAC closures decimated local economies.
We will connect veterans and their families to existing programs and innovative partnerships with local businesses, community organizations and education providers to support deeper regional economic development. The timing of the fellowship — during the critical transition period following discharge — is designed to provide structure and purpose when veterans are most vulnerable while introducing meaningful learning and professional opportunities at the moment when they need them most.
The goal is a symbiotic relationship: Veterans need communities as they transition from military to civilian life, and rural communities need veterans to breathe life into their local economies. Our goal is to empower both by connecting them and set new, positive trajectories for populations that have been ignored for too long.
We’re already working on a designing a prototype in Maine.
Introduction by Chary. Interviewed by Chary + Emily