Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Olivia Petrou, founder and CEO of Olive & Fig, located in Toronto, ON, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Olive & Fig is a Toronto-based grazing company that went from side-hustle to full-on business during the heart of the pandemic when my partner and I decided to resign from our corporate careers to pursue a dream.
Grazing is a concept originating from Australia, offering a new way of dining with specialty cheeses and meats being the core focus (essentially a trending word for charcuterie boards). We were among the first handful of companies in Toronto operating in this space in 2019. We soon became the first grazing company in the GTA to offer next-day delivery via our e-commerce platform.
We serve everyone! Our boxes and platters have been popular for birthdays, hostess gifts, welcoming babies, sympathy gifts, anniversaries, and celebrations of all kinds. We are also honoured to have created our products for many companies, including Bell Canada, Pinterest, TD Bank, KPMG, ABC Network, TJX, Canadian Tire, Interac, Mejuri, Sick Kids, and more. Our stellar delivery model has been key for virtual events requiring multiple delivery locations.
Tell us about yourself
Olive & Fig was born in June 2019 as a side-hustle after months of self-reflection and a desire to add more to my life. With a recent promotion to managing national executive recruitment at Canadian Tire in July 2019 and a focus on climbing the corporate ladder, Olive & Fig was, for the most part, a weekend endeavor providing a much-needed creative outlet. All business was generated from Instagram or word-of-mouth until I quickly learned to create an e-commerce website and became well-versed in digital marketing. With more business came more content, and this cycle continued until March 2020.
As we all know, the coronavirus entered our lives in March 2020, and most of us began remote work from home. Olive & Fig temporarily stopped operations as we and the world assessed the situation. I focused on my career, personal life and seriously contemplated not restarting Olive & Fig. Mother's Day was on its way in May. Being such an important day to so many, especially during a pandemic, I got the itch to reopen as it was safe to do so. With everyone at home and working virtually, I pivoted to grazing boxes and never looked back! Olive & Fig's growth accelerated substantially, especially as we caught the eyes of corporations seeking to add our products to their virtual events.
As Olive & Fig rapidly grew, I began to have serious conversations this summer with my partner, George, about what to do. Without expectation and what came as a very welcome surprise, George, while working virtually as Managing Director at a Wealth Management Firm, decided to take the leap to resign from his job as he believed quite strongly in Olive & Fig's potential. I followed suit a month later!
We view building this business together as a way to fulfill both our dreams and potential in ways that would not be possible had we stayed in our corporate lives. Our past jobs required us to have high attention to detail and impeccable customer service, which are key skills that have attributed to the rapid success of Olive & Fig. Facing new challenges, continually learning, and being the captains of our own ship motivate us daily.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Our biggest accomplishment to date is our team. We have built an exceptional team consisting of a Digital Marketing Strategist, Kitchen & Inventory Manager, and a fleet of the most professional delivery drivers. We are honoured to have such loyal and talented employees that directly contribute to our success!
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The unknown - especially having started up during a pandemic. Was this business model successful because of the pandemic? Is it a trend that will eventually die off? We try not to allow doubt to influence any decision we make. We are constantly brainstorming diversification ideas, pivoting to everchanging regulations, and launching new products.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Start: Often, people have a business idea, but they don't know if or how they should begin. I have found that if you are passionate about your idea, then you will find the time and ways to make your business idea come to life. Create a business email address, check out that domain name, make that Instagram account. Before you know it, you'll have a full-fledged business. Small steps daily are key.
- Perseverance: It is very easy to give up, and I have absolutely come close to doing so several times. I was able to find small wins that kept my fire for Olive & Fig burning. This is a constant mental practice I have in place.
- The Company You Keep: I came across many naysayers during the early stages of Olive & Fig. I naturally began to surround myself with people that understood my vision and supported me. That positive energy led me to mentors and other people in the food industry that I was able to learn from.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email email@example.com; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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