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Mentoring young artists to have successful careers

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A Nonprofit Dedicated to Mentoring Young Artists

A young woman's determination to prepare students for a career in art pays off

Art is the driver of so much. The clothes we wear, the music we listen to and the conversations we have with our peers all stem from art. Despite its cultural and societal relevance, the arts industry is largely underfunded and underrepresented, which means artistic individuals yearning to turn their passion into a career have an uphill battle to climb.

This is the point that Olivia Minamyer drives home through her nonprofit, Art is to Live, a beautiful program that helps high school students pursue the art industry of their dreams.

Olivia is the owner of Branch Beauty Studio in Worthington, a Green Circle salon (which means she recycles 99 percent of what she uses — even hair) designated to creating natural hair care, color and extensions to enhance a woman’s beauty.

“We do things a little differently here,” Olivia says of her salon. “For example, there is no gratuity and I only use natural products.”

By looking at the adversity she faced growing up—being stereotyped to be poor and unsuccessful—she was fueled to make a difference in the lives of those longing to turn their love of art into successful career paths.

Here is our conversation.

CL: What drove you to start Art is to Live?

Olivia: I grew up in a small town in southeastern Ohio where there was a lack of opportunity, lack of diversity and where art wasn’t pushed or appreciated. I was always into hair styling and as I got older, I had no one in my court supporting me. The administration in my school, my softball coach and even my parents weren’t supportive of my wanting to become a cosmetologist. I was told I wasn’t "going to go anywhere" because I wanted to do hair. I was always thinking, “How do I weasel my way into the salon industry?” So I thought about obtaining a chemist degree. 

I ended up going to cosmetology school in Wheeling, West Virginia and moved to Columbus afterward. I got to take an eye-opening business class where my professor asked: “If you had to leave Earth tomorrow, what legacy would you want to leave behind? Are you proud of the person you are and what you are doing?” That hit me hard. And I thought, there’s a lot of kids like me—kids who are passionate about a career in the arts but who lack support. [At 22], I decided to create a non-profit that would give a scholarship to artistic kids.

CL: What does your art program entail?

Olivia: I mentor artists through four core values of success: self-evaluation, breaking stereotypes, collaboration and financial literacy. I teach my students about how student loans work and how to start budgeting, and I provide realistic expectations of what salaries can actually get you.

I want my students to know whether you’re a budding chef, designer, musician, cosmetologist, photographer or other type of artist, believe in yourself and that if you continue to do what you love, you will find success.

CL: What is your ultimate goal with Art is to Live?

Olivia: There are two sides—bringing awareness and helping students. People in the arts are such an integral part of our society, and they often do not get the recognition they should. I want to help set them up for a better life—a happier life. 

CL: Why is art so important to you?

Olivia: Art hits every part of you—your mental side, your physical side, it hits all of your senses, makes you feel, and allows you to create. It allows you to connect with another person’s soul.

Olivia is currently taking nominations for her Art is to Live program. Students must be in high school, graduating before May 2025, in order to be eligible. Nominations can be sent directly to Olivia at oliviajominamyer@gmail.com.

  • Olivia Minamyer, founder of Art is to Live
  • Mentoring young artists to have successful careers

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