After 27 years as a sales manager for PepsiCo in northern California, Dianna Conaway said ever since she took over as owner of Western Sierra Nursery in January, she’s felt more fulfilled than ever before.
“We moved up here because we love this community,” Conaway said of herself and Jeff, her husband and co-owner. “I spent so much time in my old job traveling outside the community. It always seemed like I was a part of the area, but never there ... but now I get to run my own business, make my own decisions, and be a part of this wonderful community.”
Sitting next to a pumpkin patch she added to the long-standing Oakhurst nursery, Conaway reflected the skills she learned at PepsiCo applied to running a business, but left her unfulfilled in her personal life.
“Before, I worked so hard I got to a point in my life where I realized I had to be sure I was making a life too, and not just a career,” Conaway said. “It just worked out where this gives me both. It really is building a better life.”
Jeff handles the financials while Dianna runs the day-to-day operations at the nursery, which sells all things gardening, from plants to tools, and even a smile or two, though those are free.
She said 29-year owners Robyn and Mark Holland left such a strong legacy at the store that there wasn’t much to change, but she has added new flower beds, fountains, and other items alongside future plans to possibly expand into the nursery’s second acre.
“I think the main thing we bring is that renewed energy,” Dianna said. “Robyn and Mark were in the business for decades, so I hope to bring the same passion and drive that they had.”
Other plans include remaining an active part of the community, Dianna said, by giving back wherever possible, especially during holiday seasons with special event ideas for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“The community here has been so receptive,” Dianna said. “This is a pretty male-dominated industry but I feel right at home. Everyone’s been so welcoming so I think we’ve kind of taken Robyn’s torch and run with it. We look forward to continuing to make this the place for gardening in the mountains.”
Western Sierra Nursery offers a wide variety of gardening-related items, including over 450 varieties of seeds, fertilizer, yard art such as bird baths and metal sculptures, even vases, pottery, wind chimes, and incense.
Details: (559) 683-8476, firstname.lastname@example.org, westernsierranursery.com.