Aishwarya Iyer Founder and CEO of Brightland on Starting Small and Scaling
June 15, 2023
Aishwarya Iyer attended New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study where she graduated with a degree in Media and Globalization with an emphasis on South Asian Gender Studies. Following graduation, Aishwarya spent many years working for various startup and tech firms in New York while indulging in the diverse culture of the city during her evenings and weekends.

After experiencing a personal revelation regarding the ingredients she was using in her own home kitchen, Aishwarya set out to California to pursue her passion of bringing high-quality olive oil to homes across the country. Since launching Brightland in 2018, Aishwarya has become a trailblazer and thought leader in the olive oil industry. 

You made a major career pivot before founding Brightland. What did you learn from your corporate career that informed your early startup experience?

I am so grateful for my time working in the corporate world! No matter where I was or what I was doing, I was surrounded by peers, managers, and even CEOs that taught me invaluable lessons that I would eventually carry into my time building Brightland. One of the greatest lessons I learned was the importance of being nimble. No matter the size of your business, things are going to change and it will be out of your control. While it can be extremely difficult at times, I’m continuing to learn how to be flexible and adapt to any situations thrown my way as a small business owner.

You’ve mentioned that you weren’t entrepreneurial; how did you overcome that?

Entrepreneurship didn’t come naturally to me, so building Brightland was definitely a challenge. In my early days of entrepreneurship I struggled with imposter syndrome daily, but I had to choose to push that to the side in order to build a brand that I was proud of. I’m extremely grateful to have had (and still have) friends, family, and other industry professionals championing me on since day 1. Having a strong community of individuals that truly love and support you is priceless.

What advice do you have for others who are considering stepping into entrepreneurial journeys?

Be okay with leaving your to-do list unfinished at the end of the day. Becoming an entrepreneur and building a startup from the ground up is a labor of love and your mountain of daily to-do’s will seem never ending. However, I’d challenge any new business owner to be comfortable with leaving things unfinished and returning with a fresh set of eyes the next morning.

Have you looked to mentors as you’ve scaled your business?

Yes, 100% – Ashley Merrill of Lunya, Matt Taylor of Tracksmith, and Nic Jammet of Sweetgreen are just a few of the wonderful people I feel fortunate to have in my corner through this Brightland journey.

What marketing techniques have you relied on to build your business that other entrepreneurs might benefit from knowing?

One of the greatest pieces of advice when building a startup is to start small, which is exactly what I did with Brightland. Our first two products were a pair of complementary olive oils – ALIVE and AWAKE – that were created with the intention of elevating the everyday. For months, two oils were all we offered, so we intentionally used that time as an opportunity to tell a bigger story about our commitment to creating high quality, consciously-crafted products. By the time we expanded our product line to include vinegars, infused olive oils, and even honey, we had built a rapport with our loyal customers which proved they could trust that we would only bring the best products to the table. To this day, our pair of AWAKE and ALIVE – The Duo – continues to be one of our top-selling SKUs month after month. This reminds me that our investment in building two core products that serve as foundation for our brand was worth all of the effort we put in those first few months before launching Brightland.

Who is one woman you admire today?

Tory Burch – I listened to her on a podcast recently and came away so inspired and admire her so much as a business leader.

What is one thing you can’t live without?

Meditation – it is incredibly grounding

What is one trend you see coming in 2023/2024?

One trend that I think we will continue to see emerge is the exploration of international flavors and ingredients to create bolder, more adventurous products. With the increasing accessibility of global ingredients and the rise of cultural diversity in culinary preferences, consumers are seeking new flavors in their everyday meals and beverages. We’ve seen the rise of Yuzu (a citrus fruit originating from Asia) be incorporated into everything from seltzers to chocolates, so I’m particularly interested to watch flavors from different cultures become more mainstream over the next year!

Find out more about Aishwarya Iyer

With a commitment to traceability and transparency, Aishwarya and her team continue to bring consciously-crafted pantry essentials to home cooks everywhere. Brightland, the AAPI-founded pantry essentials brand, was born to elevate the simplest moments in your kitchen – from the dashing and drizzling, to the dipping, dousing, and everything in between! Brightland is committed to sustainably sourcing their oils, vinegars and honey directly from small, family farms. Every decision made by the brand – from product development to design choices – is thoughtfully considered and inspired by their community and culture. Brightland believes that happiness can always be found in the little things, such as a wholesome, delicious meal.



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