The Aroma of Happiness

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

Cheryl Olshove was at a crossroads in life, looking to clear her mind, when she took an autumn drive through the rolling countryside of Champaign County. The 49-year-old Upper Arlington woman, long a stay-at-home mother, couldn't have known it would change the direction of her life. But it did.

"I had come off a difficult time in my life - health issues, losing my brother at 46 years old," Olshove remembered. "I went for a drive in the country on a beautiful fall day, and just went where my heart led me."

It eventually led her to a beautiful six-acre farm, with a picturesque farmhouse and two rustic barns - an ideal place, she figured, to relax and regroup during retirement.

"Perfect," Olshove thought. "It's perfect."

She bought it and decided it would be a lovely place to grow lavender - an aroma that reminds Olshove of the grandmother she calls "my favorite person."

She began researching the possibility, and learned there were certain types of lavender that would not only survive, but also thrive, in Central Ohio. She then started using lavender, essential oils and other natural products to make soaps and lotions, along with sachets and scented pillows.

"It grew out of a need to find something for aging skin," she said. "I felt the benefits almost immediately."

Bear Naked Goods was born. Olshove grows the lavender on her Urbana farm and creates the products in her Upper Arlington basement. She then sells her goods at local farmers markets and at She puts every penny she earns back into the business to cultivate her passion.

What began as 30 plants has now blossomed into more than 600. Olshove credits her husband, Vince, with much of her success. The two have been married for 30 years. Olshove calls Vince her ally, best friend and now unpaid laborer. "He spends his downtime tending to the plants," she said, "and has grown to be as passionate about the farm as I am."

Well, almost. Vince Olshove says his passion is his job at Nationwide Children's Hospital, where he's part of the cardiac team. But he admits that he does love the farm. And he's glad his wife does, too.

"A lot of her life was spent managing kids, putting herself second, third," he said. "It wasn't until this came along that she began to emerge, blossom."

Olshove, who has three grown children and two grandchildren, is just glad that a head-clearing country drive four years ago led to such a lovely chapter in her life. "I like experiencing life every day - going with the moment," she said. "And that was a really good moment."

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