Several years ago, I was standing on the school playground chatting with some of the other moms after school as our kids played (oh, how I yearn for those days!), and I noticed this striking woman I had never seen before. Over the next couple of days, she kept garnering my attention. She had long, dark, tousled hair, funky sunglasses, red lips and often wore effortlessly cool outfits consisting of tank tops, jean cutoffs and retro sneakers — sort of a real life Daisy Jones of Daisy Jones and The Six — a look in which I could never pull off. Upon learning her name, and as any modern day woman would do, I Instagram stalked her for hours before finally introducing myself to her. All kidding aside, I was pleasantly delighted to discover Elena Aida was an artist and even more delighted to now report that after getting to know Elena through serving on our PTA School Board together over the past couple of years, she is one of the nicest and most approachable cool girls you’ll ever meet.
Elena and her family moved to Old Town from upstate New York about five years ago when her husband received a job opportunity to work in the public sector in Washington D.C. Like many of us, the great public elementary school, walkability to restaurants and shops, historic architecture and family friendly environment drew them to Old town specifically and the easy access of only having a ten minute drive across the bridge to some of the most amazing art museums in the world certainly did not hurt.
Art runs in Elena’s family. Elena’s mother and grandfather are artists, so her love of the arts was inherent. In fact, some of Elena’s first memories are of standing at her Grandfather’s easel using all of his pastels. Elena began taking art lessons at an early age and continued her Fine Arts studies throughout college and in competitions. Elena actually boasted her first solo exhibition in Syracuse, New York at the age of 21.
Since then, Elena has continued to have many of her solo pieces exhibited at various museums and art shows throughout the U.S. in addition to producing commissions which has really challenged her to stretch and grow as she takes someone else’s subject and then projects it through her own lense and style. Locally, Elena is active in the regional art community, including exhibiting in the Torpedo Factory Art League. Please visit her website elenarall.com to view more of her great pieces and inquire about her commission availability.
How do you spend your free time? Painting, attending all of the cultural and museum events, volunteering on the PTA board at our child’s school, and putting in miles around Old Town.
Neighborhood: South Old Town.
How long have you lived in Alexandria: 5 years.
What is your hometown? Syracuse, New York. All of my family still lives there, and we love visiting our family’s Adirondack lake house for the summer.
What brought you to Alexandria? A tale as old as time – moving to the Washington, D.C. area for work.
What would surprise people about you? My ballet troupe spent two weeks in rural schools in Yunnan Province, China, as a part of a literacy program.
You’re a superhero: what’s your superpower? Create more time. Does everyone say that?
Favorite cocktail: Champagne most times, or a Paloma.
Last book read or movie seen: Little Women.
Guilty Pleasure: Dreaming about coming home for a snack, probably toasted sourdough bread.
Phrase you overuse: “Hold on.”
Facebook or Instagram? Instagram.
Latest binge-watch: The Young Pope on HBO.
Bucket list travel destination: Any and all of Greece. I have to visit my Yiayia’s places of origin.
If you only could have one for the rest of your life: wine or coffee? Wine. I run on a natural adrenaline!
Define your style in three words or less: Creative and curated.
The go-to piece in your wardrobe: A great white t-shirt.
Favorite trend ever: High-waisted jeans.
Favorite current trend: I love that every decade has a defining style. Anything goes!
Beauty product you can’t live without: My eyelash curler!
Favorite fragrance: I am currently loving Gucci Bloom.
Heels or flats? 80% of the time I’d choose flats. These Old Town brick sidewalks are no joke!
Favorite room in your home: The living room where I hangout with my daughters.
Antiques, modern, or a mix? I love a mix.
Last item bought for your home: Down pillows and a comforter.
Next planned purchase: A mid-century modern sofa.
Favorite way to entertain: Drinks and hors d’oeuvres in our courtyard, then a walk to the water.
Clutter-free or well-lived in? Clutter-free.
Wallpaper — yes, totally modern or no, so dated: I would dabble!
Your go-to work-out: Barre.
Most fun way to exercise: Dance class, hands down!
Group exercise or solo: I love working out with my friends.
What is your fitness goal: To feel great and have defined muscles. I haven’t hit my goals quite yet, but I might be willing to try coaching. I’m terrified of headstands, but maybe someday!
Proudest fitness achievement: Consistently working out.
Favorite spot in Alexandria: Honestly, I love living among all these amazing historical sites!
Last purchase in Alexandria: Tretorns from The Shoe Hive, and (even more) gold hoops from She’s Unique.
Best coffee / happy hour / date night spot: Misha’s for coffee and The Majestic Cafe for cocktails. We’re very adventurous so we always try something new.
Favorite charity: Casa Chirilagua.
Favorite annual Alexandria event: Halloween on Lee Street is a favorite. I love making an event of it with family and friends!
Heard the buzz? The Shoe Hive & The Hive are a pair of luxury boutiques in Old Town Alexandria. Featuring both big name designers like Rag & Bone and Stuart Weitzman and smaller brands like AGL and L'Agence, our unique selection and impeccable service are what set us apart.
The Shoe Hive The Hive
127 S. Fairfax Street 301 Cameron Street
Alexandria, VA 22314 Alexandria, VA 22314