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Nancy’s passion for food began at a young age, as she grew up in a loving, close-knit large family. Some of her best childhood memories occurred in the kitchen with her mother as well as around the dinner table. Her parents allowed their children to participate in meal preparation, thus instilling a lifelong passion for cooking.  

After graduating from Bucknell University, the infinite love for cuisine led Nancy to enrolled at the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont.  She embarked on a career that would explore many facets of cooking.  One of her early entrepreneurial endeavors was a small restaurant and catering business in Highlands, North Carolina. The business venture allowed her to acquire the knowledge of food sourcing as well as the connection of family farming and the profound importance of a healthy food system.  In 2008, she sold the restaurant and spent the next five years working with non-profit organizations doing strategic planning.

Staying true to her  salt roots, with her brother Lewis Payne, in 2013 she revived her family’s salt business in the Kanawha Valley by founding J.Q. Dickinson Salt-Works. Nancy serves as the company’s CEO. With the company’s explosive growth in the past 7 years, its products can be found in over 600 retailers and restaurants across the country. The company also ships world-wide, directly to consumers. 

Through her work with the Salt-Works, she got to know many Appalachian artisans. In 2019, she launched J.Q. Dickinson Appalachian Mercantile, a business that curates high-quality Appalachian foods, home goods and crafts. J.Q. Appalachian Mercantile sells the goods via a subscription-based model directly to consumers.  

Nancy is a stellar entrepreneur that understands  the massive need in the market for authentic brands from the Appalachian region. With this knowledge, Nancy’s mission is to share her love of the picturesque Appalachian region and its artisan excellence with the world.