On the 3rd day of Christmas

This holiday season, Ottawa Foodie Girlz is celebrating the 12 days of Christmas with a festive Q&A style blog series featuring one local business per day. We’ve spent the last few weeks connecting with local business owners and each day we will we will reveal the business, their story, and a special giveaway. That’s right, we have 12 giveaways coming up!

Make sure to check out our 12 days of Christmas event page every day as we reveal the next business. All giveaways will start the day the blog is featured end 5 days later! All photos have been provided by the business, unless otherwise credited. 

On the 3rd day of Christmas my true love gave to me.....

Why/How/When did you start your business?
I started The Unrefined Olive almost three years ago. I took a leave from my Federal Civil Service job with Environment Canada and have never looked back. I left on September 26th, 2012 and opened my doors on November 15, 2012. Looking back I am not sure how I managed to renovate a space, incorporate, finance, source my products, hire and train staff, all in two months. I did have a passion for food and this was my inspiration.

Tell us about your successes and/or challenges?
This was my first business and I had no prior business, sales, or retail experience. I had never even touched a Point of Sales or Cash System in my life. I am not originally from Ottawa so I didn’t even know the lay of the land. In my first year of business I was one of three finalists for Ottawa Business Woman of the Year, became a board member for our Glebe BIA, and in May of this year I opened the doors to my second store in Kanata. (Which is funny because it does not actually have a door, but that is another story.)

Ottawa is a challenging landscape because it is really a patchwork of small villages and shoppers really seem to keep to their own area. It takes a lot of effort to get the word out and attract people to your store. Everyone would like you to open a store in their area but that’s just not possible. So we are out and about at shows and events as much as possible. We have also been generously covered by local media. We take excellent care of our customers, and enjoy our time with them! Word of mouth referral is the key to our business.   

We also give back to community as much as possible. We support charitable and community-based organizations around the Ottawa area. 

What is your most popular product?
Our 18-year-old Aged Balsamic remains one of the most popular items with Wild Mushroom and Sage Olive Oil a close second. (It is delicious and pure comfort food taste in a bottle!) Don’t forget that you can taste everything first!

What do you want people to know about you and your products?
We carry over 60 Single Estate Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oils, Flavour Fused Olive Oils, Aged Balsamic Vinegars, and Specialty Oils.

We bring in new Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oils from around the world at least four times a year. Currently we have Extra Virgin Olive Oils from eight different countries. Many have won gold medals in International Competitions as well. We have dark and white Balsamic Vinegars from the oldest producer in Modena Italy. Olive oils and balsamic vinegars are delicious, nutritious, and easy to use!

Where else can people find your products?
We have two stores: 151A Second Avenue in The Glebe and at 499 Terry Fox Drive in Kanata.

What’s next?
We are constantly looking for new local and Canadian specialty foods to have in the stores along with a nice assortment of pickles, preserves, jams, cocktail mixes, spice rubs, chocolate, and sea salts.

Working with local producers is important to us and even our stores and their furnishings are all locally crafted. We pay careful attention to our products and only source the highest quality items. We love sharing ideas on how to use our products, their nutritional value, and on how to put together gift ideas for everyone on the holiday list. We hope your readers come in for a visit!

Contact information

151A Second Avenue (In the Glebe) 
Telephone: 613.231.3133
499 Terry Fox Drive (Kanata)
Telephone: 613.592.4500
Website: www.unrefinedolive.com


 Day 3: the Unrefined Olive