It’s easy to dream about owning your own business. Making it happen, though? Not so easy. Unfortunately, we often psych ourselves out with fears or lack of confidence, stifling our dreams before they can ever come true. For this month’s SDP Client Spotlight, we sat down with Ann Brown, co-owner of We Olive & Wine Bar in Claremont.
Read on to learn more about Ann’s journey to becoming a new business owner, and how she has leveraged her community and the “experts” in her life on her way to success.
Finding We Olive
Our story begins seven years ago when Ann decided she wanted to open a We Olive & Wine Bar. At the time, Ann had just left her administrative role with another company and was exploring the idea of opening her own business.
During this season of dreaming up possible business ventures, she and her husband had cultivated a love for wine tastings and trips to wine country.
Whenever you visit wine country, wherever you go you’ll also find olive oil sales and tastings.
They enjoyed tasting and buying olive oils and balsamics, quickly developing a palate for new flavor combinations and fresh ingredients. On one such trip to San Luis Obispo, Ann came across her first We Olive.
I thought it was a stand-alone store, but they told me it was a franchise! Downtown San Luis Obispo is very similar to Claremont, and all I could think was, ‘This would be great in Claremont!’
Just like that, Ann’s sights were set on becoming a We Olive franchise owner. With her love of olive oil and wine tasting, paired with her love for the Claremont community (the city has been her home for over 40 years!), and her belief that a We Olive would thrive in Claremont, she was ready to take the next step.
Upon her return home, she contacted the We Olive corporate office and applied for a franchise. Headquarters sent a team to visit Claremont and fell in love.
Shortly after, Ann, her husband, and her sister received the news that they had been approved as partners to open their very own We Olive franchise in Claremont.
The road ahead would be challenging. The building they moved into in the Claremont Village was a fixer-upper that required lots of work before they could open. Further, Ann had never owned her own business before and was instantly thrown into learning the ins and outs of being a California employer.
However, the We Olive team was there to support their newest franchisee. They sent a training team to help her set up, design her store, find products, etc. Finally, the day came in November 2019 when Ann and her team opened for business.
A Look at We Olive & Wine Bar
Wondering what exactly goes on at a We Olive? You’re not alone! The business is part artisanal olive oil and vinegar retail store, part wine bar, and part bistro-style cafe.
At the wine bar, you’ll find a selection of unique wines from small, California producers. Guests can order by bottle, by the glass, or even by each taste if they want to design their own flight.
Their kitchen also puts out a healthy and fresh menu of hearty seasonal salads, cheese boards, flatbreads, and sandwiches–all made with ingredients they sell in-store.
Passionate About Olive Oil
We Olive was built on a passion for locally sourced, healthy, delicious, artisan extra virgin olive oil. Olive oil is a healthy fat, it affects how your food tastes, and it’s a product most people are regularly putting into their bodies. As such, it’s important to pay attention to which olive oil you’re using.
So many people save their “good” olive oil for special occasions and use crummy olive oil every day to cook with. You should honestly be able to drink your olive oil–if you taste your olive oil at home and it doesn’t taste good, you shouldn’t use it!
If you weren’t already sold on the benefits of olive oil, a study of nearly 100,000 individuals from 1990 to 2014 found that those who ate more than half a tablespoon of olive oil each day had a 15% lower risk of having any kind of cardiovascular disease and a 21% lower risk of coronary heart disease.
If you go to taste your current cooking olive oil and promptly want to spit it out, then We Olive has you covered. When you walk into a We Olive, you’ll have the opportunity to try any of their wide selection of oils and vinegars, straight from the tap!
Each oil will taste different to each person, so there’s no shame in trying them all! After you’ve found your favorite and have purchased your first bottle, you’re immediately eligible for the We Olive refill program. Once you’re out, you can bring your bottle back to refill for a discount.
Wondering how to use your olive oil? In addition to drizzling it in your skillet before cooking or finishing meat with it, you can also add olive oil to popcorn (we love the Jalapeno Olive Oil for this!), create your own olive oil and vinegar “mimosa” (no joke–try ordering We Olive‘s Blood Orange Mimosa or Peach Basil Mimosa on your next visit!), or explore any of the other recipes on their blog!
Shutdowns, Staffing, and Supply Chain–oh my!
We Olive & Wine Bar opened in Claremont in November 2019. We all know what happened just a few months later–in March 2020, the entire world came to a screeching halt.
While the hardest part of being a business owner during the pandemic was laying off employees, Ann shares that now the challenge is not having enough employees. Staffing has been difficult, but as the nation continues to reopen and hesitant workers come back to work, one of her biggest goals is to expand her team over the next year.
Another challenge has been supply chain bottlenecks. Even though all of We Olive‘s wines, vinegars, and olive oils are sourced from right here in California, other critical elements like glass bottles and bottle caps have been impossible to stock for the past year. And while they’ve found some local alternatives, Ann is looking forward to the end of COVID-related backlogs.
More than anything, Ann is thankful for the support from We Olive and the Claremont community she has received since opening.
The returns of being a franchise owner are so worth it because of the support. I would have felt so lost if I had to figure everything out all by myself!
She’s been able to network with other We Olive franchises, share resources, and brainstorm solutions to the challenges of the past year. Additionally, Ann is so proud and thankful to be a member of the Claremont Village community.
It’s tough to run your own business! But we’re all here for each other. I appreciate the support from everyone, and do what I can to support them too.
At the time, I didn’t know how to onboard employees or process payroll. I didn’t want to get in trouble and wanted to make sure I was doing things right. With so many things going on, it was such a relief to have one less thing to worry about.
To Ann, her favorite part of working with SDP is the peace of mind she feels. She admits that she doesn’t have peace of mind about many things right now, so wherever she can get support is worth the investment in her eyes because it will save her time and money in the long run.
I’m big on teamwork. I think you can make better decisions when you can brainstorm and hear from experts in the field. SDP is the payroll and HR voice on my team.
Come Visit We Olive!
If you’ve never been to We Olive & Wine Bar in the Claremont Village, we strongly recommend you stop by! Whether you’re looking for a new bottle of olive oil, want to try out one of the famous We Olive mimosas, or need to grab a bite for lunch, Ann and her team have you covered.
Stay tuned for more events like wine pairing classes, wine cocktail workshops, or “Meet The Olive Oil Maker”. And if you’re looking to host your next mixer or company luncheon, give Ann a call to learn more about booking with We Olive!
SDP Client Spotlights: Celebrating Our Clients
Every month, we highlight one of our amazing clients with the SDP Client Spotlight. Here at Southland Data Processing, we’re in the people business and strive to always put our clients first. So if you or your organization is interested in becoming our next Client Spotlight, please contact us at [email protected] and we’d love to hear your story!
Photo by We Olive & Wine Bar in Claremont