FRĒDA WOMAN: Aishwarya Iyer
Introducing Aishwarya Iyer to the FRĒDA WOMAN series
Founder + CEO of Brightland
Can you give us insight into your background and how you started Brightland?
I have always broken barriers. I grew up in an immigrant household where safety and security in our futures were paramount, so my family hoped I would have picked out my major, college choice, career path by the time I was 5. Instead, I took a more exploratory route. I went to college in Texas before transferring to NYU because I wanted to be bold. At NYU, I studied at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study, where you create your concentration and major, from scratch. No two majors are the same (mine was media and globalization with emphasis on South Asian gender studies), and you are empowered to shape your time at the school as you see fit. I worked in technology and startups for many years after, and when I decided to launch Brightland, I felt that same feeling of breaking through something. There are not many women, let alone South Asian Americans, in the olive oil world, yet I knew this was my purpose and path. I believe that by breaking barriers and making the first move in life, love, and career, we get to live our biggest and boldest lives. After learning that most of the olive oil that Americans consume is rotten, rancid, and adulterated, I wanted to do something about it, but I wasn’t sure what it would look like. After moving to California, I wanted to champion American-made, beautiful pantry essentials starting with extra virgin olive oil, and that’s where the journey began.
Brightland mentions the importance of “nourishing body, heart, and soul.” What are the ways that you do this?
• Put away screens in the evening before bed
• Read fiction
• Cook a meal and savor it
• Get a good stretch session in each day
What was the inspiration behind the name Brightland?
From a song called the olive tree by The Seekers:
I've heard them say a greener land is waiting there
Where people wake and find their dreams come true
High flying dove please lead me and I'll follow you
Above the clouds beyond the stormy sea
I long to share a world of sweet contentment there
In that bright land where grows the olive tree
What is your favorite Brightland product to incorporate into your food?
I’ve been loving adding our Brightland vinegar to cocktails this holiday season. These are some of my favorite recipes:
What do you value most about being a woman entrepreneur and the community you have built with Brightland?
I hope that other South Asian women who want to break molds and do something outside of the box that has been prescribed for them feel inspired and energized by my story. I also get so much energy from.
What does women supporting women mean to you?
It means championing each other’s wins, appreciating each other, and finding simple moments in between to check-in and be grateful for each other.