How We Get the Job Done: Brightland's Aishwarya Iyer

Aishwarya's premium olive oil is up against stiff competition from cheap, low-quality products, but she's not discouraged by that. "Live your biggest, boldest life," she says.

Meghna Rao

March 6, 2019

How We Get the Job Done: Brightland's Aishwarya Iyer

Cheap olive oil (priced as low as $5 on Amazon) is often mixed with lower grade oils and can make consumers sick. Brightland’s Aishwarya Iyer is hoping to change that. Her premium olive oil is priced at $37 a bottle and comes in flavors like “Alive” and “Awake.”

“Take a whiskey glass or a big spoon and just pour some [olive oil] onto it. Taste it straight,” Aishwarya tells me. “If it’s rancid or tired, it’s not a good product. It may taste a little flat like plastic Play-Doh.” If it’s pure, “it’ll have a grassy fresh green robust taste.” Sadly, mine tastes like Play-Doh. And so begins the story of Brightland.

How did you start paying attention to olive oil?

It was my eighth year in New York. I’d never cooked much before that, and I was always eating out. Then, I got into a relationship, and started cooking, but we kept getting these stomach aches. First, we were like “it must be the bread,” and we stopped eating bread. Didn’t fix it. Then we were like “oh it must be the cheese,” and stopped eating cheese. You name it, we’d find a way to cut it out. Eventually, we realized olive oil was the constant.

We were using it in pasta, and roasting vegetables in it. But I never thought about where it was coming from. I was using it as a tool. And I didn’t come from a background in food, so I did a quick Google search for “bad olive oil.” What I saw was that the majority was rotten, or rancid, or adulterated. It’d been blended with palm oil and canola oil that just wasn’t good for you.