- Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in Ridgefield?
We moved to Ridgefield 5 years ago from Philadelphia. I am from NY and my husband is from CT. Randomly, we met in Philly 10 years ago.
- How many children do you have and what are their names/ages? Husband?
While in Philadelphia Brian and I married, bought a house in Center City and had Havana, 7 and Iliana, 6. We left Philadelphia for a lawn, better schools, and to be closer to family. We found Ridgefield on one of our many ‘Operation New Life’ explorations of Westchester and Fairfield. We drove down Main St. and knew immediately this is where we wanted to be. Our son, Athen, now 3, was born here.
- What is the one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I’ve been an artist all my life. I started my college career in the Interior Design Program at Virginia Commonwealth University. I was, and still am, passionate about creating a space that invites and calms our souls. However, an undeniable calling to create a better a world and ‘calm the souls’ of those in need took me down a path of a higher calling than interior design. I changed college majors and eventually became a social worker for abused and neglected children in Philadelphia. When we thought about a family of our own I moved into Corporate Social Responsibly and had the privilege of donating millions to important causes and non-profits.
- Tell us about your work and how would you describe your design taste. Have you always had a passion for the arts?
My love for Interior Design always revolved around furniture. I love furniture! As a child with a humble upbringing, my grandma (and favorite person) always had nice Ethan Allen furniture that I admired even as a child. I always wanted nice furniture like her. Even as a broke social worker I would rather own one nice piece of furniture from Crate and Barrel then several pieces from IKEA (not knocking IKEA!) Even now, I find the fine quality and craftsmanship of an antique to be far superior to anything available in mainstream stores. I find anything with intrinsic value – from humans to furniture – worth investing in to help their inner beauty shine through when most people overlook it.
After my first child was born, I bought a French provincial dresser at a Philly flea market for $65 and painted it in white chalk paint for my daughters nursery. I’ve been painting furniture on the side ever since, but only when I could find time in the margins of my life as full time employee and mother of three. It didn’t really blossom until this past year.
- What was the “push” you needed to begin your own business?
As of last year I was fundraising for The American Cancer Society by day and playing the part of mother, wife, house manager, cook, maid, chauffer, party planner & event coordinator (for my children), on the nights and weekends. I was too drained to fulfill my own soul with what I needed to feel authentic and at peace – I NEED to create!
Over the course of many years I felt “Me” slipping away. That inner voice telling me to live true to myself became so overwhelming – I was physically, mentally, and emotionally drained all the time. I felt like I was failing at life. I wasn’t the mother, wife, or ‘self’ I wanted to be. All I wanted was to find balance, which seemed impossible. And then COVID happened.
I was laid off from my job, had a 2 year old, and 2 elementary age kids remote learning with no end in sight! I saw opportunity in the tragedy of COVID and seized my moment. How much of my own life could I regain and claim for myself before science brought us all back to “normal”? I dove in head first and painted furniture as often as I could. Everything I did, sold – quickly. I started to get so much positive feedback , which was just the fuel I needed to run with this newfound freedom to create. Before I knew it, Rabbit & The Oak was born. I had clients. People wanted what I was creating. I was happy. I was calm. I was fulfilled. I was Me.
- How did Rabbit and the Oak get its name?
When Brian and I started dating over 10 years ago, he gave me the nickname “Rabbit.” It was the perfect moniker to describe my anxious, restless nature. I was always frantically and curiously hopping from one thing to the next. He hasn’t called me by my real name since. In fact, my kids playfully call me Rabbit sometimes.
As we were thinking of names for the business, we started with Rabbit. “The Oak” easily followed. Brian is my oak. He’s the strong, unmovable force always at my back. It’s his strong arms wrapped around our family that keep us feeling safe and secure. It’s his ability to provide for and nurture us the way an oak does for the forest and all that rely upon it. I am the rabbit and he is the oak.
- Best piece of advice from other moms? How this community has been instrumental in getting me to where I am now?
I know whole-heartedly that I would not be where I am now without my husband, my tribe of mama’s, and this town. There is no better place to call home and no better community to raise our children. I know exactly how blessed we are to be here and I am thankful for all that surrounds us each and every day.
I am lucky enough to have the BEST friends ever! We all found each other here in Ridgefield – some of us transplants from all over, some of us born and raised here. There is no tribe like that of mothers. As one of my dear friends says, “we feel all the feels”. The compassion, love, fortitude, positivity, determination, that comes with motherhood, are also the things that best friends are made of. Somehow, they always know the right thing to say and whatever they do, they do with heart.
My best friend in the world, whom we were featured with in the How We Met column of Ridgefield Magazine is the greatest inspiration and confidence when I’m lacking. She has pushed for and supported Rabbit & The Oak when it was just a dream. She swatted away every excuse I came up with, discredited every doubt I had, and offered a never ending call to action – live true to who you are! She constantly reminded me – and still does – that my kids would be better off with a mother who was strong enough to take a risk, confident enough to claim her life as her own, and proud enough to stop apologizing and just be.
One of my favorite quotes is, “The world needs who you were meant to be” – Joanna Gaines. Well that is just what I am doing, contributing my abilities to my community as a furniture artist and really proud of the beauty I can bring back to life for so many. The rest of my life belongs to me, my family, my tribe, my community.
You can find her at: