Behind Her Empire: Aishwarya Iyer Wants To Talk About Your Rancid Olive Oil

Yasmin Nouri

Yasmin is the host of the "Behind Her Empire" podcast, focused on highlighting self-made women leaders and entrepreneurs and how they tackle their career, money, family and life.

Each episode covers their unique hero's journey and what it really takes to build an empire with key lessons learned along the way. The goal of the series is to empower you to see what's possible & inspire you to create financial freedom in your own life.

This week, hear from Aishwarya Iyer, the founder CEO of Brightland, an artisan oil and vinegar brand started in 2018.

Iyer began her entrepreneurial journey after doing some research on possible causes for her upset stomach—which led her to learn more about cooking oils after cutting dairy and gluten from her diet. She discovered that 70% of olive oils Americans consume are either rotten, rancid or has been adulterated — diluted by other inferior quality oils — and no one was talking about it.


Iyer's career started in New York City, after she secretly transferred to NYU. After graduation, she found herself at L'Oreal, and then began working at a startup.

"That's where I think I really sunk my teeth into what it means to move quickly," she said. After, she pivoted to work in fintech.

For Iyer, it was "a matter of like, why me, why should I do this? I didn't go to Harvard in terms of like business school, I wasn't a famous chef or restauranteur. I'm very much like an average normal person who spotted something."

In the early days of creating her business, she was bogged down by her own criticism, she said, and grappling with imposter syndrome.

After rewriting her personal narrative, Iyer realized she was uniquely well equipped for entrepreneurship. She has a background in marketing, communications, brand building and investing. Her background in investing was especially important, she said, as it allowed her to bootstrap her company for over a year before turning to investors. She also said that her background give her insight into the kind of investors she was looking for — ones that are hands-off.

Iyer also shared her thoughts on what it means to be a female founder. She shared her distaste for the idea that female founders should also have to function as influencers, with their image as the face of their brand. She said she found that wouldn't work for her, and that it's an expectation only placed on women.

In the rest of the episode, Aishwarya shared how she creates harmony for herself, working with California farms directly and the importance of the abundance mindset.

Aishwarya Iyer is the founder and CEO of Brightland.

"I also wanted to shape our destiny a bit. And I wanted to understand our product-market fit understand our customer. And I also wanted to understand like why I would need investors besides the capital — are there arenas that folks could help us out [to] be more strategic about it. And so, yeah, we were bootstrapped for over a year, and it was hard, and you know, but it taught me a lot of lessons. And it was definitely the right move." —Aishwarya Iyer

dot.LA Engagement Intern Colleen Tufts contributed to this post.

Want to hear more of the Behind Her Empire podcast? Subscribe on Stitcher, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeart Radio or wherever you get your podcasts.

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Bernard Mendez
Bernard Mendez is an editorial intern at dot.LA. He attends UCLA, where he is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics. Mendez was previously an editor at the Daily Bruin, the student newspaper at UCLA.

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bernard@dot.la

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