One day, a Thailand native stopped by Old School Produce Company to admire the gardens, telling the owner of how they reminded her of back home.

Tik Coberly grew up on a farm in a rural area of Thailand, the sixth of seven children. Soon she was talking to Mike and Cindy Elwick about the plants she helped raise as a child. The Elwicks eventually offered Tik a job, helping them plant, harvest and prepare produce.

Later, they helped Tik with the education and other steps needed to open Tik’s Nails.

Now, Tik divides her time between the two jobs, serving a variety of manicure/pedicure/reflexology clients and helping with the gardening in between customers. Her office is located in one of the former classrooms that Mike Elwick has converted into office space.

And it all started with a haircut.

Tik had worked a variety of jobs in Thailand, including as a hair stylist. One day, an American came in for a haircut. He had been to many places in the world. Tik cut his hair; they began talking. Soon they were dating and making plans for a wedding.

Robert Coberly is a Shellsburg native. The couple lived in Thailand until after the birth of their daughter, while navigating the immigration process necessary for Tik to acquire a green card to live  in the U.S.

After living in a monarchy in Thailand, Tik says one of the things she likes most about America is the freedom of speech; in Thailand, criticizing the King is not a constitutional right.

In her Thai society, the Buddhist monks have an important role in society. Before opening her business, Tik asked her mother to speak to their local monk. She was surprised to find out that the monk had told her mother that in the U.S., Tik is working with an older couple — something Tik had not mentioned. The monk also advised Tik to open her business early on a Saturday morning; the first client that called Tik asked for an 8 a.m. Saturday appointment.

With Tik’s advice, the Elwicks added Chinese lettuce to their produce line-up last year; it soon became a favorite. Some other items that will be available at Old School this year are also things familiar to Tik’s native homeland.

Tik, who formerly worked at the Lotus restaurant in downtown Vinton, says one of her favorite hobbies is fishing.

Tik says she does all colors of nails, and doesn’t really have a favorite. To make an appointment, call 319-361-6555.