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Woman finds light in dark Minnesota winters

Amber Leong is the founder of Circadian Optics.
Credit: Chad Nelson/KARE

MINNEAPOLIS — Whether we like it or not, winter is coming. It's evidenced in our shorter days and longer periods of what makes Minnesota's winters, difficult than most-- darkness.

However, one woman who calls Minnesota home is working to find solutions. 

"I was working in a corporate job, just in downtown Minneapolis and it was in the middle of winter," Amber Leong said. "I was really feeling down. I would go to work, drive to Ramp B. It was dark. When I left work at 5:30, 6:00, it was dark. I never saw the sun."

But right there in the darkness is where Leong found her light that led her to create Circadian Optics, a light therapy lamp company.

"Whenever winter comes around I was like 'what about your idea to start a stylish light therapy company? No one has done it yet,'" she said. "Another winter came by, see no one has done it yet. Finally in 2015, I felt like I was ready."

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Leong said she had already purchased a light therapy lamp from somewhere else prior to her creating her company. She said the light was bulky, and had an overwhelming presence on her desk that was unsightly. So with her desire to create a stylish version of what seemed to be helping many people through dark winter days, she jumped into her business. 

She left behind everything she knew about the corporate world and jumped. Just like she had when her parents put her on a one-way flight to the US for an education. Just like she had when she narrowly survived Toxic Shock Syndrome in college.

"That life experience completely changed me," Leong said about her two weeks in the Intensive Care Unit. "So it put in me, a courage. The willingness to take a chance that I want to live a life that is less ordinary."

In true Amber fashion, she leaped once more, this time diving into the world of Shark Tank. On the show, she moved the judges to tears with her story. She secured $750,000 for Circadian Optics.

"I do feel very thankful everyday and now I also feel that I have the responsibility to give my best," she said.

Guiding her in her pursuit of happiness, is not just a lamp but a light from within. That light emanates from her passion and her optimism.

"I do want to say that tough times, they will always end," Leong said, referring to the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. "Spring always comes."