The history-rich area of Frederick, Maryland, provided the backdrop for my childhood, with plenty of biking and hiking trips to Harpers Ferry, WV, and portions of the Appalachian Trail. My dad was an adventurous biologist with a deep love of the outdoors, and my mother an artist and crafter who worked in the cartography lab at National Geographic, and both of them imprinted their passions on me when I was very young. The oldest of three, then four (after my parents adopted a Russian orphan when I was in college) children, I enjoyed a happy and calm childhood.
Having supportive parents has always been one of my greatest advantages. Both encouraged me to pursue a degree in fine art, despite that being a field that does not guarantee anything resembling a return on investment. I attended the oldest art school in the country, Maryland Institute, College of Art, where I first majored in illustration, then drawing, then finally graduated with a BFA in general fine art where I specialized in portraiture. My sister, 2.5 years my junior, pursued the same degree path, but chose to go out of state, to Carnegie Mellon University. I used to visit her often when I still lived in Maryland, and fell in love with the city of Pittsburgh, nearly moving there twice. Instead, I took a job in rural Maine, teaching art and music (my other love) at a school on a coastal Indian reservation. It was in Maine that I met my husband, Rob. We married and had our first child, Olive, but knew that we didn’t want to raise our family in such a remote, isolated part of the country. The third time was a charm and we relocated to Pittsburgh in the summer of 2010. I had no idea I’d soon be plunging head-first into the olive oil business the following year.