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Hidden Gems: Meet Heather Soler of Olive Oil Grove

Today we’d like to introduce you to Heather Soler.

Alright, thank you for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us how you got started?
The story of Olive Oild Grove started way back in 1983 when Heather and Lucas met at the age of twelve. On their outing together (too old to call it a “play date” and too young to call it a “date”), and accompanied by two of Heather’s six-foot-something tall brothers, they sat on a blanket and watched the sparkling sky on July 4, 1983. The explosions above and within began a love story and partnership that continues today, 39+ years later. Many people in the U.S. know that extra virgin olive oil is healthy. Still, only a few know that almost all the olive oil in the U.S. is not authentic, not high quality, and has been stripped of its health-promoting benefits and freshness through mass production. This is the exact problem Heather and Lucas are addressing: providing access to exceptional and fresh extra virgin olive oil in North Carolinians and beyond. While Heather and Lucas sell the olive oil online at drizzlethis.com, they spend most of their time locally at farmers’ markets meeting olive oil lovers in person and educating people one sample drizzle at a time. OLIVE OIL GROVE’s core values that drive the brand are PASSION, AUTHENTICITY, and HEALTH.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The first challenge Heather and Lucas found was starting the business in October 2020 in the middle of the COVID outbreak. Traveling to Spain during that time to source their “liquid gold” was extremely complicated. While Lucas was there on our first source trip, Spain went into a national lockdown the day he was due to fly back from the airport. Negotiating multiple checkpoints on the way to the airport proved challenging. Heather and Lucas’s largest obstacle is that world-class olive oil is not for everyone and requires a lot of education for potential customers. Customers are accustomed to buying regular mass-produced olive oil at the supermarket, and many don’t fully appreciate fresh olive oil’s taste and health benefits.

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about Olive Oil Grove?
Heather and Lucas own and operate Olive Oil Grove. They sell curated selections of organic olive oil and vinegar. They get to travel Spain, visit scores of world-class farms, and taste a whole bunch of olive oil! Then, they select and bring back to the U.S. the one they consider to be the best.

Do you have any advice for those just starting?
Heather and Lucas faced considerable challenges selling their olive oil online. The constantly changing technology landscape for social marketing wasn’t fully understood when they first started, and this led to some diminishing returns of investments in this area. Instead of spending more money on social media, they turned to farmers’ markets, and that was a strategic decision that kept the company afloat. Now it’s their favorite part: meeting and speaking to people directly about the benefits of fresh olive oil and convincing them one sample drizzle at a time.

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Image Credits
Lucas Soler

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