Sharon Streb, a former nurse, returned to school, changed careers and now has added a culinary gift shop franchise location, Oil and Vinegar USA in Frederick, Maryland to her list of endeavors.

(Photo Courtesy of Sharon Streb)

(Photo Courtesy of Sharon Streb)

Her recent educational background includes a master’s degree in architecture from the Florence Design Academy in Florence, Italy and an Italian Olive Oil Expert certificate from ONAOO/The National Organization of Olive Oil Tasters, the oldest olive oil tasting school located in Imperia, Italy.

What inspired you to change careers initially and to start your franchise business?

“I had been a nurse for 27 years and then switched careers completely and became an interior designer. I studied design at the Florence Design Academy. While in Italy, I fell in love with olive oil and attended the oldest training institution there. Then a book called ‘Truth In Olive Oil’ alerted me to the possibility of turning my passion into a franchise. Because I am over 50, I decided franchising was right for me.”

How does your educational background relate to your current role?

“I have many degrees in different and diverse areas but what pulls it all together is being a home health nurse, interior designer, and, as I have learned more recently, owning my own business all require that I be a people person. Also, as I have come to learn and love, food is a universal language and makes everyone happy!”

How has your education helped to further your career and contributed to your success?

“I have a lot of education and, of course, it all has helped further my career. But getting educated on how to fund my franchise business was just as important. I learned about 401K business financing options called ROBS, where 401K monies may be rolled over without early withdrawal or tax penalties in order to invest in a business or franchise. Guidant Financial then helped me finalize the transaction.”

What is some advice you can offer others considering an ‘encore’ career or buying a franchise or small business?

“Try to understand as much as possible about the business and opportunity before jumping in. For me, every day is overwhelming and all-consuming. I rarely have an eight-hour day. You have to be ready to roll up your sleeves and give it 120 percent every day. Keep marketing yourself, be passionate, tell people what you do and how much you love it. Share your passion.”

Susan Brown originally spent many years in banking/finance before confronting her addictions. She has now been in recovery for 20 years.
Primary interests include metaphysics and energy healing in which she has several certifications. She has written for Examiner.com since 2009 and also writes for Om Times. Sue lives in Baltimore.

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