Gathinja was born in Nairobi, Kenya in East Africa and as an early teen informally made African paintings and crafts gifts for Ethiopian and Kenyan friends.
She attended Kahuhia Girls High School and then went on to earn a higher education degree at Evelyn's and Rupani's College of Design in Nairobi. Her influence to choose this path was from her Mother who loved making outfits for her and her brother while they were growing up. Gathinja saw the love behind this and so decided to expand on her Mother's example by professionally learning the craft of design, which encouraged her to advance her skill in African Black art at the same time.
Gathinja immigrated to the United States in 2002 to marry her now husband of fifteen years, whom she first met when he was living in her homeland of Kenya.