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Take 5 with Dr. Cary Gannon

Published: 04/28/2016

By: Lindsay Miles

Dr. Cary Gannon, biomedical sciences '99, is a podiatric surgeon who founded AILA Cosmetics, a nail lacquer collection that is "8-free," paraben-free, gluten-free, Triphenyl Phosphate, or TPHP-free, cruelty-free and vegan. The Nashville-based company has been featured in French Vogue, Southern Living and a variety of talk shows and beauty blogs. Most recently, AILA has added Anthropologie online to its rapidly growing retail arsenal.

With proceeds from her orange lacquer, "The New Black" and her blue lacquer, "My Two Jeffs," Gannon has established the AILA Cosmetics Annual Scholarship for female students with a pre-health concentration in Auburn's College of Sciences and Mathematics.

During her time at Auburn, she was a member of the track and cross-country teams. Following her graduation, she attended the Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine in Cleveland. Gannon currently practices at the University Foot and Ankle Center in the Franklin and Spring Hill, Tennessee, locations.

Gannon is the 2016 Marie W. Wooten Distinguished Speaker and will deliver a talk on May 5 at the College of Sciences and Mathematics' Society of Women in Sciences and Mathematics Symposium luncheon. For information on the symposium, visit the website.

1. How did your undergraduate education at Auburn help you prepare for professional school?

The first line of the Auburn Creed best answers this question: 'I believe that this is a practical world and that I can count only on what I earn. Therefore I believe in work, hard work.' This statement is absolutely true, and I believe it prepared me for life beyond professional school. You can only count on what you earn. Fortunately, I learned early to never put myself at risk by depending on someone else to do it for me. Success doesn't just happen; you have to earn it.

2. What makes AILA Cosmetics unique and how were the products developed?

The goal has always been for AILA to be distinguished by the fact that it is physician developed. I spent a lot of years and worked very hard to be a medical professional. But, for me, my title as physician doesn't end with my degree or my medical license. It begins there. What follows that is where my real credibility happens: what I do with what I've learned – and am still learning – as a practicing physician is what matters. I've always intended AILA to be a reflection of my education as a doctor.

3. What inspired you to start AILA Cosmetics?

Well, basically, I was being selfish. I started AILA when I was cleaning house in every aspect of my life. I woke up one morning and was DONE. I was in an unhappy marriage, I had odd health issues, my daughter was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder, I was a surgeon managing my medical practice, running myself to death, and was not taking care of myself. I was so busy taking care of everything else in my life that I had forgotten who I was. I was miserable, so I decided to make a change. I began eliminating things and people from my life that were not healthy for me. Taking care of my body and eliminating toxic ingredients were high on my list. It was during this time that I discovered the truth about many of the products in my industry and became determined to make a change. I launched AILA Cosmetics to address the industry demand for healthy beauty products. Women want it all: beauty, health and function. AILA wants to provide that.

4. What do you know now that you wish you had known while a student?

That the true global currency is relationships, not money. It's easy to isolate yourself into your own little bubble and think everything revolves around self, but life doesn't work that way. So, my advice to current students is to spend time building strong relationships, to make deep investments in people, build trust and demonstrate honesty and truthfulness. Do these things, and success is inevitable.

5. What is your favorite Auburn memory?

You simply cannot talk about Auburn or any SEC school without talking about football. There is nothing like the familial atmosphere of an Auburn football game. It's truly more than just a game. It's a big family of great people converging on a small town to celebrate a love for a place that has given us all so much.

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