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HOME/HOMESTYLE Mary Ann Dallenbach: Owner of St. Matthews Feed & Seed HOME LIFE Mary Ann was born in New Jersey, grew up in Lexington, and moved to the Louisville area after graduating from the University of Kentucky. Work took her to Atlanta for several years, but for the last two decades she’s been living on her farm in Shelby County. Mary Ann has two grown children and three grandchildren. ROOTS IN BUSINESS Having parlayed her political science major into a successful career in the financial and consulting sector, Mary Ann bought St. Matthews Feed & Seed in 2002. “I was working at JP Morgan at the time, and I saw it as a good investment opportunity,” she says. “I thought that maybe in the future when I retired, it might be something nice for me to do, but I fully expected to stay in the corporate world until they booted me out.” Several years later, however, Mary Ann decided to leave her “day job” to take over the day-to-day operation of the store full-time. “I loved my corporate experience, but now I get to use my business skills while having fun with and learning more about plants, which is my passion.”

go down. “Sunset at the farm is spectacular. It’s so peaceful seeing the colors and hearing the birds having their last dining-out experience. It’s amazing how quickly you can decompress just sitting on the porch for 10 minutes at sunset.” A HAPPY AWAKE Although she puts in a lot of hours at the store, Mary Ann looks forward to going to work every day. “Running my own business is hard, but it’s fun and rewarding,” she says. “People who come in are in a good mood because they like to garden and they’re excited to do something to improve their space. We can talk about plants, and I get to help them figure out what they need and make them happy. People say I’m a workaholic, but I’m doing something I love and something I’m excited about. It may keep me awake at night, but it’s a happy awake.”

I love being “outside. After work, I’ll go home and play in the dirt in my garden. It’s therapeutic.

GREEN THUMB Mary Ann likes growing things. “When I was little I’d grow corn, tomatoes, and flowers in the backyard,” she says. “I remember being so proud getting my first ear of corn. I must have been around 4 years old. It was so fun, and I really enjoyed being outside and digging in the dirt. And I think my parents liked that it kept me busy.” Mary Ann continued gardening whenever she had space and time, and she now enjoys having a whole farm to work with. “I have wheat in right now, then I’ll put in corn. Next year, it will be soybeans.” SUNRISE, SUNSET A self-described morning person, Mary Ann likes to start her days with coffee and exercise before she goes to work. “I’ll do a few yoga positions on the floor, go for a run, ride my stationary bike, or take a walk. In the summer, I’ll water the plants.” Morning may be her favorite time of day, but she also loves to watch the sun

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BALLS IN THE AIR Depending on the day, Mary Ann considers multitasking either her strength or weakness. “I feel like I’m always keeping lots of balls in the air,” she says. “I’ve been doing that all my life, from when I first started juggling clients at work to later juggling life as a single working mother. I wish I could have spent more time with my kids when they were younger, and I wish there were more hours in the day — everybody probably says that — but I like where I am in my life. There are always new things. Some things I like better than others, but I’m never bored.”

LIFE ON THE OUTSIDE If you’re looking for Mary Ann, more often than not you’ll find her outdoors. “I love being outside,” she says. “After work, I’ll go home and play in the dirt in my garden. It’s therapeutic. I can think and work out my problems or chop down some weeds and get my aggression out. I also love to go bicycling, and I scuba dive. I’m thinking about getting a convertible for my next big birthday, too. I’ve never had one, and I don’t know what I would do with it that I can’t do with any other car, but it could be fun. Or I may drive it around for a month and change my mind once the novelty wears off and the bugs fly in and my hair looks terrible.”

GROWING SUCCESS Mary Ann has experimented with many different plants over the years. “I’ll try growing anything once. I’ve had a lot of flops, but also some successes. I love growing vegetables — I eat really well — and I’m learning about trees now. I love flowers, too. Hydrangeas are probably my favorite. They’re so pretty, and you can grow them pretty much nine months out of the year, so there’s always something blooming.”

Today's Woman June 2016  

Announcing the 2016 Most Admired Woman winners! Their interests and talents are as varied as their professions. We were really impressed wit...

Today's Woman June 2016  

Announcing the 2016 Most Admired Woman winners! Their interests and talents are as varied as their professions. We were really impressed wit...