Like most born entrepreneurs, Aishwarya Lyer doesn’t follow a prescribed path.
Raised in an immigrant household, she was taught a strong and focused work ethic from an early age. But that didn’t stop her from exploring: Iyer started her career in L’Oreal’s luxury products division at Lancôme, which sparked her interest in memorable luxury brands. Afterward, she spent nearly a decade in communications and advisory roles at start-ups and tech companies including ff Venture Capital, SecondMarket and Whisper. That’s when she first put her entrepreneurial spirit to work: In 2016, she co-founded Ellephant Partners, a strategic communications firm specializing in venture-backed technology companies.
The following year, the innovator found herself driven again to start her own venture: Inspired by her lush California surroundings and intel on the sub-par and corrupt state of American olive oil, she went on a mission to bring new energy and change to the industry, founding Brightland—a line of premium, custom-blended extra virgin olive oil “that is nourishing for the body, heart and soul.”
Here, she confides about what ignites her passion and brings her joy:
Live The Process: You clearly have an entrepreneurial spirit. To what do you attribute that fearlessness?
Aishwarya Iyer: I have always broken barriers. I grew up in an immigrant household where safety and security in our futures was paramount, so my family hoped I would have picked out my major, college choice and 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/major from scratch. No two majors are the same (mine was media and globalization with an emphasis on South Asian gender studies), and you are empowered to shape your time at the school as you see fit. I ended up working in technology/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, who are in the olive oil world, yet I knew this was my purpose and path. I truly believe that by breaking barriers and making the first move in life, love and career, we get to live our biggest and boldest lives.
LTP: After all your years at startups, tech and communication companies, why olive oil?
AI: Once I learned that most of the olive oil that Americans consume is rotten/rancid/adulterated, I felt compelled to do something about it. I wasn’t sure what that looked like. After moving to California, I realized that I wanted to champion American-made, beautiful extra virgin olive oil that is also elevated—and that’s where the journey began.
Olive oil is a foundation of wellness, a cornerstone of nourishment for thousands of years and a historic source of well-being and ceremony. Athena’s gift of the olive—useful for light, heat, food, medicine and perfume—was one of the most useful and beloved gifts of the gods. I truly believe in honoring the beauty of the land—the California sun and soil—and respecting the nourishment it provides.
LTP: What makes Brightland olive oil special?
AI: The majority of the olive oil that Americans consume is completely rotten, rancid or has been adulterated—so gross and zero health benefits! Brightland extra virgin olive oil is sourced from a family farm in California, crafted fresh and with thought and care and has all of the health benefits.
Pristinely packaged in UV-protected opaque glass bottles to maintain integrity, Brightland’s line includes “Awake” and “Alive” custom blends—each meticulously crafted with an intention and mood in mind. “Awake” is ideal for pasta, roast chicken and drizzling over crusty bread on “slow days and cozy nights,” while “Alive” evokes a verve and vibrancy that’s ideal for vinaigrettes, raw vegetables and dark chocolate.
LTP: Are there any products, practices or rituals (aside from your own) that keep you feeling balanced and healthy?
AI: I absolutely love walking into any of the Aesop stores. They deeply relax me, I always indulge in a little present to myself and I use so many of their products at home.
Lately, I have been going to Y7 Yoga in LA on Friday evenings, and it has done wonders for my mind after incredibly stressful weeks. Finally, keeping my phone off at night is game-changing. I don’t keep it with me in my bedroom and give myself at least 45 mins to one hour to reflect on things in an 100% analog way.
LTP: What does happiness look like to you?
AI: Happiness is a moment in time—very fleeting. So, I try to focus on living a life of joy, and that means living from a place of gratitude, being comfortable with discomfort and finding charm in the tiniest of things. And remembering mortality helps too. Our time here on Earth is short; let’s make the most of it.
LTP: What does it mean to you to “Live The Process” and how can we all do that more each day?
AI: To me, “Live The Process” is synonymous with growth, expansion, evolution and enjoying each part of it in our lives—the messy, bright, bold, and beautiful parts.