Evolving Olive Oil
Words Kailla Coomes
Photography Tim Sugden
Owners and founders of House of Spain EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) Peter and Amanda Gillies, exude passion, and their story is a bit of a whirlwind. As a married couple and new parents, they quit their jobs, went head-first into their business, and created a successful product in less than two years. They say that their 15-month-old daughter Sophia, “is an awesome representation of our business because we started this right when she was born…we are like toddlers in this business. It’s been a wild ride.”
They first started importing EVOO 16-months ago, but just 11 weeks ago they launched their very own brand and unique product. Their product is a premium Spanish Extra Virgin Olive Oil combined with CBD, and is currently featured in restaurants all over Portland, from Gravy to Noble Rot, it’s not hard to find. For them, the sky’s the limit and nothing is impossible. We sat down with the couple to hear their story and more about their product that has just taken off.
Can you tell me how you got started?
Amanda: My father grew up in poverty in a small town in Spain, and when he came here at 28 his family began to send him the wicker furniture they made, and he started selling it. In the 40 years since that time, he has been able to establish a solid international supply chain that we are now privy to.
Peter and I had been in the restaurant industry for about 40 years combined when I got pregnant with Sophia. At that point, we had already been looking to create our own business and do something on our own. My father had previously tried importing extra virgin olive oil and selling it. He really wanted to do it, but just didn’t have the time for it, so when I got pregnant, he was like, “I have these amazing sources of olive oil in Spain, would you guys be interested in importing?” And I said, “yeah why not?” He introduced us to these sources and then was like, “OK, good luck, I’ll be here if you have any questions but you’re on your own.”
When was this?
Amanda: We started importing in the beginning of 2017, and it was awesome. Then we started doing more research on CBD and what we could do with it. CBD is responsible for so many health benefits, and so is EVOO. We did our research, and not only do they work together they are actually synergistic, they help each other. They interact with the same endocannabinoid system.
How did you get started?
Amanda: We made a couple of test batches and they went amazingly and from there we decided to create our own brand. We originally sourced our CBD from hemp, but what is so amazing about what we have done is that not only are we priding ourselves of going to Spain and sourcing the best EVOO, we are also sourcing our CBD from an invasive evergreen species. This means our CBD contains zero hemp, zero cannabis, zero THC, and is 100% legal in every city and state. Our CBD does not require the land, water, pesticides, fertilizers or resources that are needed to produce hemp or cannabis. It also doesn’t contain any heavy solvent or heavy metal residuals, which makes it not only the purest, but also the most eco-friendly.
Wow, that’s an amazing story! When was the official launch?
Peter: It’s only been about 11 weeks since our launch and it has been so well received. We have gotten into numerous restaurants and dispensaries including; Gravy, Noble Rot, Firehouse Restaurant, Haymaker, Pakalolo…and the list goes on.
When did it click that olive oil and CBD actually go together?
Amanda: Peter actually had been pushing that idea for a while. He thought, “What can we do to breathe new life into olive oil?”
Peter: Given the landscape of Portland, I started to see the health benefits of CBD and started doing more research. We contacted all the people we needed to, and we were slowly able to put it together. A lot of the research was on my own accord. And we finally figured out how to do it. It’s been an awesome experience and we are having so much fun.
Did you guys have a moment when you looked at one another and said, “we did this, we are actually doing this?”
Amanda: Uh every second of every day! Ten times a day we look to each other and say, is this crazy, are we crazy? We left our jobs and I keep saying, we are either really brave, or really dumb. I don’t know, only time will tell. Everything is pointing towards this, and there have been so many serendipitous things that have just happened and fallen into place.
What has the reception been like?
Amanda: The feedback has been phenomenal. That’s really special and rewarding and motivating. This is awesome – we love it, we think it’s amazing, but at the end of the day other people must like it as well, and people are loving it!
How did you first start selling the olive oil to people?
Amanda: The first time we launched our CBD infused EVOO was at the Vancouver Women’s Show. We had our official introduction there and even though the show was slow we still had our best day ever. It gave us the confidence we needed to keep moving forward. That was our intro to the market and it’s been a whirlwind ever since.
Peter: We are trying as hard as we can, and if we stay persistent things will work out one way or another.
What are your future goals?
Peter: Our goal is to become a nationally recognized brand known for health, quality and superior service.
Peter and Amanda will be going to Tales of the Cocktails in New Orleans, where they will be collaborating with New Deal Distilling. Their product is available online, and we encourage you to look out for them at the Alberta Street Fair, Portland Night Market, Estacada Uncorked, Wild About Game, and the Gresham, Wilsonville, and Milwaukie Farmers Markets all summer long.