My whole family comes from an island off the coast of Croatia. At the time I was born, it was part of communist Yugoslavia. There weren’t many jobs, and people had a hard time building wealth. My parents began to worry: as they raised their daughter, what kind of life would I grow into?
My father, Nick (short for Nikola), worked as an electrician. Ambitious and hard-working, he knew he wanted a better life for his family. Following his older sister to the United States, my dad began doing electrical work in California. It was there that he began laying the groundwork for the American Dream, living in my aunt’s garage while he saved enough money to bring his family over.
At the age of two, I came to the US for the first time. My parents and I—and later, my baby brother—settled in Kerman, California. As you probably know, agriculture is a huge business in the Central Valley. My father began doing electrical work in the world of agriculture and became trained to install well pumps, which eventually led him to learn enough to begin farming himself. He started with nothing, but his determination made my entire life possible.
Thanks to my parents, I had a world of opportunities open to me as I grew up. Instead of just getting by, I was able to thrive and to pursue my passions, earning a degree in graphic design from Fresno State. As I come from a creative family of artists, my greatest dream was always to own an art gallery. With hard work, extensive planning, and a lot of support from my husband, Larry, I was able to achieve that dream in 2002.
The gallery was an incredible experience: we showcased local artists and held classes for aspiring kids. And even though we had to close its doors after only a year, I am extremely proud to have made that vision a reality. I made a difference in my community while it lasted, and it was an incredible learning experience, too. I knew that if I could get through something like that, and go through those ups and downs, then I can do anything.
It was that knowledge that propelled me into the world of real estate, where I got started by flipping homes with Larry. For our second flip, we brought Jenny to help us; and from that moment on, it was clear that we had the potential to do great things together. She’s my other half in this business, and I don’t think I could do it with anyone else!___________________________________________________________________________________________________________