Where are you from and how long have you lived in town? What brought you to the area?
I’m originally from Northbrook, IL and I have been living in Vernon Hills for the last 12 years. We moved to Vernon Hills because of all the opportunities that District 73 has to offer the community.
Do you have child(ren)? Age(s)
I have two (2) boys, Armando Jr who is 10 and Bobby who is 9.
What are your favorite things to do in the area with and without your kids? Family friendly restaurant? Date night?
My husband and I enjoy having dinner at Uncle Julio’s for date night. When we go out with the children we enjoy Buffalo Wild Wings and Chili’s both restaurants are kid friendly.
In addition to the restaurants you mentioned, can you share your TOP 5 favorite local businesses? It could be stores that you frequent for clothes, kids, home decor, healthcare, fitness, wellness, beauty salons or spas, or family resources (photographer, financial advisor, lawyer)… We love supporting local.
I love supporting small local business so I am a frequent and loyal shopper to:
Let’s get Personal (https://www.facebook.com/letsgetpersonalnow)
Yoga Barre (https://yogabarreusa.com/)
Half Price Books
Starbucks (271 W Townline Rd, Vernon Hills, IL 60061)
My favorite photographer (https://www.facebook.com/cdanaeservices)
Are you involved in a business venture, a local organization, a creative endeavor or in the corporate world?
I’m the marketing director at Pure Olive (https://www.facebook.com/pureoliveskin/) with my best friend Barbara Vrettos. It’s amazing working with my best friend since childhood because it has given us the opportunity to work together and to bring an amazing product to our family and friends.
We are involved in every step of the process, from the harvesting of the olives to the collection of the herbs, to the sealing of our packages, in order to ensure nothing but quality. WE LOVE WHAT WE DO so we take pride and work with passion to create exceptional products for our clients!
Our base oil and our technique differentiate us. Not many oil based cosmetic producers have the ability to harvest their own oil but we do!!! We harvest our own olives from our own fields in Southern Greece. We pride ourselves in the acidity levels of our olive oil and ensure exceptional quality by testing our oil before it is used by our boutique. The testing certifies low acidity levels in every drop of oil used to create every product we sell. Why is this important? This ensures that the oils are of exceptional quality so that they do not irritate the skin. Our Olive Oil is produced by cold pressing organic olives shortly after they have been collected, to guarantee extremely low acidity and an exceptional quality. It is rated extra virgin and it maintains the highest degree of cosmetic and healing properties.
In addition, we hand collect all of the herbs used in our products from our own fields located on the mountains of Greece. This allows us to select the freshest, purest and most vibrant herbs for the creation of our products since no fertilizers or pesticides are used for their growth. More importantly, we DO NOT use heat in the creation of our products since heat affects the quality of olive oil and takes away its cosmetic properties. Finally we use no preservatives or artificial colors or perfumes.
I’m also the PALS Site Director at the new Hawthorn School of Young Learners as of this new school year. I have been with PALS for the last three years working as a counselor and that opportunity led me to Site Director under the direction of Anna Swain. This was the first year that PALS was launched at the new building and it was a complete success. Having two boys myself I understand what it means to send the kids off to school on their first days and experience all “the first moments” and being able to walk them through the process has been life changing for me. It reminds me how little my children were at that stage and having a familiar face at school is extremely important. Many of my families have taken the time to get to know myself and my hardworking staff and that makes our connection that much stronger.
How has this community been instrumental in getting you to where you are now?
Vernon Hills has many opportunities that my children have utilized and has developed them into well rounded children. They have been exposed to a diverse community and also have had the opportunity to use their native language in their everyday school life which was one of the driving factors why we picked District 73 for the Dual Language program. Our children have played on the travel soccer team with the Vernon Hills Soccer Club and have learned to perfect their skills and grow as a team as well as play on their home field.
What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I love to listen to Christmas music year round, if I am home cleaning or cooking more than likely the music station will be at “Holiday” favorites.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten from another Mom?
One of my very good friends has taught me that it’s ok to ask for help, I tend to always want to handle all the logistics of the kids day to day activities myself and during this new school year I was struggling to get my children to their practices and one of my friends said, “Maria just ask” and when I did it honestly made my day run smoother.
Are you involved in any volunteering or philanthropy? Do you have a favorite local non-profit or charity?
I have been volunteering for the last two years at a food pantry called Faith Acres in Wauconda, IL. One of my favorite charities is Toys for Tots and have helped out for three years in a row.
What are your favorite places to travel near and far and why?
We love going to Lake Geneva, WI because it’s far enough to make you feel like a road trip adventure but near enough to come home and not fall out of my routine. I love eating at the restaurants on the lake and love to look in all the little shops with my family. We also enjoy renting a boat and seeing all the beautiful homes on the lake.
Which podcasts and/or TED Talks inspire you the most?
She Did it her way
Both of these podcasts are very inspiring and it’s great to hear women bounce off ideas that have worked for them all while working and raising a family.
Tell me about your favorite books. I love receiving fiction and non-fiction recommendations!
My favorite books are :
“The Book of the Unknown Americans”
“I am not your perfect Mexican Daughter”
What is your favorite thing about the Libertyville Area Moms Network?
I think what I enjoy is meeting new moms in our community and building more relationships. I have noticed since I moved to Vernon Hills that the more you socialize with the people in your community you are exposed to more diverse ideas and more culture. It also allows for moms to swap needs, wants and recommendations for everyday life needs
What is next for you?
My plan is to continue my career at the Vernon Hills Park District and continue growing as a PALS Kindergarten Site Supervisor under the management of amazing staff. I will continue to work side by side with my best friend to grow our company and see our product displayed in stores this coming 2022 year. More importantly I plan on spending all my free time with my family and planning on traveling to new places and making more memories for years to come.
*This post was sponsored by Vernon Hills Park District