Lola Thomas is like any other 9-year old. She loves the color pink and unicorns. However, Thomas has one difference, she was born with spina bifida, a birth defect that occurs when a baby is developing. When the cells that form the brain and spinal cord of a baby don’t fully close, the backbone that protects the spine doesn’t form completely. Thomas is in a wheelchair and even though 4M children have this disability, she’s faced severe bullying from classmates, leading to her diagnosis of PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Nevertheless, she didn’t let the negative comments from her schoolmates keep her down.
In April 2020, with the help of her mother Nickell Thomas, Lola created her first polish. Proclaiming that she’s loved nail polish “since she was 3,” she created the lacquer as an avenue to allow herself to focus on a hobby that made her happy while advocating for mental health and loving oneself no matter what obstacles one needs to overcome. Since then, her one nail polish has expanded into a brand, Lola Marie Polish with over 20 nail lacquers as well as accessories.
On the Lola Marie Polish website you are greeted with glittery nail polish and unicorns, instantly feeling like you’ve fallen into the mind of a young girl. With over 20 nail polishes, a majority are glitter. Thomas says, “I love to make the polishes with glitter, it feels like it brings sparkle to everyone’s life!” With names like ‘My Black is Beautiful,’ or ‘Your Doubt Motivates Me,’ the polish is a great way to spark conversation with your children. Thomas shares, “My mom and I have great girl talk time while doing each other’s nails.”
The 10 free, vegan, cruelty-free line ranges from $5.99 to $8.99 and the bottles are cutely made with a crown at the top, instantly reminding young girls and women not to forget the Queen that lies within. Thomas exclaims, “I’m going to be the Princess of the nail industry, just watch!” On the nail polish bottle you see icons like rainbows and flowers and even a unicorn, which is present throughout the brand and its accessories. Thomas explains, “Unicorns are known for being magical, one-of-a-kind, and beautiful. Since I was a baby, my mother has told me I was one-of-a-kind like a unicorn. I am the only child in my family, school, and neighborhood in a wheelchair. At times this makes me feel left out, but then I remember, I am a unicorn. When I started creating Lola Marie Polish, I wanted to ensure unicorns were always front and center as a reminder of how special I am as well as kids like me.”
When you shop Lola Marie Polish, for each nail lacquer sold, 50% of the proceeds are going toward the purchase of an accessible van for Lola. Her mother shares, “We have raised $56,000 so far for the wheelchair accessible van, initially we found a van that was $52,000 used, but experienced several mechanical issues. We are now looking to purchase a brand-new van, they range from $70,000 to $80,000 for the side entry ramp.” The rest of the money is being funneled back into growing the business. After they reach their goal and secure an accessible van for Lola, the next goal is to be able to donate 20% of the proceeds to the Casey Cares Foundation, an organization based out of Columbia, Maryland that helps critically ill children and their families. Thomas was once in this program. She gushes, “I want to grow Lola Marie Polish into a million-dollar business and give back to my community. I want to take 100 kids in wheelchairs to Disney World one day and let them and their parents be carefree. I want to roll down the aisles in stores and see Lola Marie Polish. I want to employ people with disabilities, so they never have to be worry about not being chosen for a job.”
With big dreams, it’s inspiring to see that Thomas has grown a business out of being bullied. Her advice to other children who are being tormented by their peers is, “Don’t let the bullies stop you! I know their words and actions hurt, but you are amazing. Look in the mirror every day and say positive words to yourself and remember how great you are. If you are being bullied, please tell your Mom or an adult you trust, don’t keep it a secret.” Wise beyond her years, Thomas still admits to day-to-day struggles, “Some days I don’t like my body. I don’t like feeling different and being in a wheelchair, but my mom reminds me that I am a unicorn.” Sharing more advice for young girls that is applicable to everyone, she states, “We all have a special talent, find yours and take over the world. GIRL POWER!”
The brand has expanded from nail polish to include accessories like a unicorn mini backpack, a hot pink coin purse gift set, a unicorn angel wings sequin hair bow set, and more. Thomas shares, “All my purses and backpacks fit perfectly on my wheelchair so I am able to put personal items in there like a change of clothes or catheters, and no one notices. I want girls to look at my polishes and accessories and smile.” Giving back is extremely important to Thomas, even though it’s only May, she’s thinking ahead to the holiday season and mentioned she wants to provide Thanksgiving Dinner to families in need as well as adopt at least five families for Christmas.
Even though she’s going through her own struggles, Thomas finds a way to be a light to others. She candidly shares, “Last Friday, I was at John Hopkins Hospital because I needed to have surgery and there was another little girl waiting to be called for pre-op. I saw how scared she was and asked my mom if she had any of my polishes with her.” Her mother did and gifted the polish to the young girl. Thomas continues, “When my mom handed the little girl the polishes and explained my story, she seemed at ease. That is my goal and purpose. If I can turn a frown into a smile, I feel complete.”
You can shop Lola Marie Polish and accessories here.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, if you are suffering from depression or anxiety, please talk to someone, you are loved!