Tell us a bit about yourself — who are you and what do you do?
My name is Aishwarya Iyer and I am the founder and CEO of Brightland. I founded Brightland in 2018 because I knew it was time for the industry to undergo a huge overhaul. My background in tech startups has allowed me to bring a unique stance to the food world. I’ve always been bold, and when I decided to launch Brightland, it gave me a feeling of breaking through--there are not many women, let alone South Asian Americans, who are in the olive oil world, and I knew taking the risk and pursuing an entrepreneurial path in the food world was my purpose.
3 words to describe your personality.
Resilient, passionate, honest.
What’s a day in the life of Aishwarya?
I always start my days early because I love mornings. Waking up to a new day allows me to reset and refresh and give me a quiet and reflective time that we I can use to set the mood for the rest of my day. Before I answer emails, I love to snuggle with my dog and think of at least three things I am thankful for. I usually take a run around the neighborhood before my work day really starts and at night, I love cooking dinner with my husband.
What are some of your favorite hobbies/pastimes?
I love to run, walk my dog, cook, and host my friends for meals, drinks, and game nights.
3 things you cannot live without
My family (including my dog), great books and music.
What is your favorite movie of all time?
We believe the the beauty of an Amarilo woman is found in her validation in herself and ever-present self love. We truly see and admire this in you. Tell us more about this journey and the ways you celebrate who you are.
I believe that everyone’s journey of growth and self-love is a highly personal experience. For me, the key was learning to shut off my ‘inner critic’ throughout every step of my career. We all have an inner critic that is formed by past experiences and negative feedback that can affect the way we make decisions and view ourselves. Making space for my inner critic has allowed me to unleash the most powerful qualities that live inside of me. It’s taken a lot of mental, emotional, and spiritual work to create space for it and see the best in it.
What inspired Brightland?
When my partner and I started cooking together years ago, we started getting a little nauseous after eating our home cooked meals. After cutting out almost everything else to try and solve the problem, we were left with one constant--our olive oil. I dug into research and found out that over 70% of the olive oil Americans consume is rotten or rancid. It was time for the industry to undergo a big transformation because olive oil has been a foundation of wellness and nourishment for thousands of years. When I moved to California from New York a few years ago, I knew it was the right time to lead that change through Brightland.
When was the first time you tried olive oil period?
The first time I tried REAL olive oil was when I studied abroad in Italy. It was so pungent and flavorful, it totally knocked me off of my feet!
What’s the most random use you’ve heard for olive oil?
Brightland's olive oil is so pure that customers often use it as a part of their beauty regime, from makeup remover to moisturizer. It’s fun to hear the creative ways that customers put Brightland to use beyond the kitchen!
What are some tips you can share on finding a clean and authentic olive oil?
It’s so important to know where all of our food is coming from. Brightland olive oil is milled in California by a miller on-site so that we know exactly where our olives are grown and who is interacting with them from start to finish. It’s a really beautiful and trustworthy process.
If your olive oil flavors had personalities describe each one.
Our original blends, AWAKE and ALIVE were intentionally named to encapsulate those exact feelings. Each Brightland blend is designed to be loved and shared with friends and family--so each one has a particular warmth and coziness to it.
What was the most surprising thing you learned through the process of creating Brightland?
Having my own business has taught me to lean into places of discomfort. There will always be unanswered questions and many, many problems that need to be solved (plus, so many more that pop up every day). For example, the week before launch, we found out the labels we were planning to use were actually defective, and we ended up on a wild goose chase to sort it out at the last minute. We ended up with an even better solution but sometimes it feels like we have to race before we rest.
Can you share one of your favorite olive oil recipes with us?
For dinner and dessert, some of my favorite tried and true NYT cooking recipes, using Brightland olive oil:
It’s a core ethos of your company to create awareness around the importance of consuming clean products. Similarly we feel strongly that the jewelry industry is filled with miseducation / a fast fashion mentality. As a brand we hope our footprint ends up being one that promotes purchasing ethically-sourced intentional designs that contribute to the greater picture. What is your hope when you think of We Are Brightland’s greater picture?
I founded Brightland with the intention to shed light onto a really dark industry. Our mission is to give customers a quality ingredient that they can feel great about putting in their body and that makes them feel good. We are also hoping to educate consumers on the importance of product quality and the effect that food has on our minds and bodies. Another huge part of Brightland’s ethos is disconnecting from technology and spending more time with the people you love. We want Brightland to encapsulate community and connection.
What makes you most proud?
I’m so proud of where Brightland has been since and where it’s going since we launched in 2018. I’m especially proud of the work we’ve done with artists to make Brightland vibrant both inside and out. Our Holiday 2019 duo (and third artist collaboration) is launching November 4 with the Cartorialist and I couldn’t be more excited about it
What’s next for you?
I’ll be staying centered, continuing to build Brightland and being open to all possibilities. Life is such a long marathon and I’m just racing against myself through it all!