The Origins of Olive & Marlowe
Olive and Marlowe started in 2010 at a little stall in the Pittsburgh Public Market selling olive oils and balsamic vinegars. It was the perfect part-time gig for a mom with a baby; I could work when my husband wasn't, or bring Olive to work with me on my back when necessary. My business did so well there that I was able to, after the birth of our second daughter, Marlowe, open up a storefront in East Liberty, a neighborhood rife with excellent restaurants and residents who know and love great food. Having a brick-and-mortar shop also made it easier for me to have my children at work with me, so I could enjoy the benefits of being a stay-at-home mom and simultaneously work full-time and grow the business I'd been in since its infancy.
A Passion for Quality & Education
Each spring for the past four years I've traveled to California to attend olive oil sensory courses at UC Davis' Olive Center where I learn how to differentiate between olive varietals, detect defects, and myriad facts about chemistry makeup, nutrients and health benefits, effects of different storage conditions, and how to best enjoy different oils with foods. My goal is to provide my customers not only with the best olive oils I can get from small, domestic-only producers, but to give them a quality education about the product I carry. My greatest obstacle has been competition with large olive oil and vinegar franchises that are cropping up all over the Pittsburgh area. Having a small, independent business sets me apart from the bigger chains, most of which lack a distinct flavor of their own but instead mimic similar stores that can be found across the country. The flip side of this is that it has pushed me to strive to better my company and to put an even greater emphasis on my customers. They have been an inspiringly loyal lot, and have gone to great lengths to expose my products to their friends and families, realizing that word-of-mouth is perhaps the most valuable form of advertisement.
I’m extraordinarily proud of the immense growth I’ve seen in the past year and the connections I've made with others in the Pittsburgh food industry, but I owe a great deal of that success to some of the people I’ve had working for me. Having customers that have become friends and then part-time employees has been a joy. Some of these people have grown to be as close as family to my family and me, and it's likely that we wouldn't have them in our lives if not for this business.