Wonder Valley Olive Oil Founder Alison Carrol on Following Your Dreams

Wonder Valley Olive Oil Founder Alison Carrol on Following Your Dreams

Olive oil has been a staple of Mediterranean cultures for thousands of years, dating back to the Ancient Greeks and Romans. For Centuries, this antioxidant-rich oil has been prized for its health and beauty benefits, fortifying the body with antioxidants, and healing the skin

with moisturizing omega-fatty acids, making it a hero ingredient still today in the wellness community. It's no WonderAlisonCarroll found inspiration around this Medicinal oil for a big business opportunity.  In 2014 WonderValley was born. An olive oil Based company created by a husband-and-wife team, Alison and Jay Carroll who believe that great olive oil has the power to elevate everyday life. We spoke To Allison About Where her inspiration came from to start her company, how she makes her partnership with her husband work so well, got some of her advice about the misconceptions about good quality olive oil, tells us how her company has transformed into a skincare line highlighting the benefits of topical olive oil and shares her top wellness advice she would give to others.

What are some of your fondest memories of growing up? Please tell us a little about yourself and your background story.

I had a pretty wonderful childhood with a very supportive and loving family. I grew up in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. There was a beloved local apple orchard down the road, Terhune’s, that I worked at for my first job both picking apples and working in the bakery shop making cider donuts. I loved being outside, getting my hands dirty, the exhaustion of a full day’s work, that glowing feeling of making something tangible for others to enjoy. I was proud to work there, and truthfully it set the bar high from the start — wanting to be a part of something positive. When I was 16, my high school boyfriend and I would take the bus down the road to Princeton, where we somehow finagled a radio show at Princeton University for a few years, often at the midnight slot. It was a great time, being in this adult world of music, creativity, and incredibly ambitious and curious students.

Tell us about Wonder valley and what inspired you to start this company?

Wonder Valley celebrates the holistic power of olive oil. My husband and I started the company in 2014 with our hero product, the black bottled classic harvest olive oil which is still our best seller. Prior to starting the company, I was the Marketing Director for the California Olive Oil Council in Berkeley, overseeing a professional olive oil taste panel to certify the 400 + California olive oils as extra virgin grade or not every harvest. I loved this job! I had access to the best authorities in domestic olive oil production - professional tasters, millers, growers, equipment manufacturers, and scientists. A big part of this role was industry advocacy and education - something I continue to do through Wonder Valley. So, the long-winded answer is I fell in love with California Olive Oil and felt right at home working in this industry.

You started Wonder valley with your husband. How do you guys make this partnership work? What are the lessons you have learned through this partnership?

Jay, my husband, and co-founder of Wonder Valley, is brilliant. This is the mastermind behind our branding and the visual world of Wonder Valley. His creativity is boundless, and we’ve been able to run this self-funded company with a small team because of his multi-hyphenate talents as our creative director. Outside of Wonder Valley, we’ve built two homes together mostly by hand in Joshua Tree and Maine. We’ve juggled editorial work, writing assignments, photoshoots, and the redesign of an 86-room hotel in Santa Fe (@elreycourt). We have that same energizer-bunny drive and love the variety of projects, the mix of creative work and manual labor. I think we naturally complement each other; he pushes me outside of my comfort zones and helps me with my tunnel vision. I actually love the financial and operational side of running the business and the managerial side of a growing business.

What we’ve learned is this: 1. There's no part of this business that is worth sacrificing our harming our relationship for. 2. It’s easy to let a spouse or family member see you at your worst, but we make a conscious effort to show up for each other with the same patience, kindness, and respect you would a colleague. 3. Formality is important; he has his designated role and responsibilities and I have mine. Overlapping and gray area is where it can get murky and tug of wars can happen. 4. Happiness is the goal, in all of this.

What advice would you give to those wanting to build their dream company but don't know where to start?

Build a community with entrepreneurs. Ask for advice. Find mentorship with the brand owners you admire.

What are some of the misconceptions about high-quality olive oil?

For most of us (myself included), our benchmark for “extra virgin olive oil” is something at the supermarket for $8, something that's pretty bland and greasy. “Extra Virgin” means that there are no defects with the oil, and from the time it was fruit on a tree to oil in a bottle - the utmost care has been given for each step. A common defect is rancidity, or oxidation. Light, time, heat, and air are olive oil’s enemies. A rancid oil is pretty common for those $8 supermarket options. A true extra virgin olive oil is fresh, there’s fruitiness and complexity, and vitality in the bottle from the antioxidants. It should come from a single origin, so read the fine print on the bottle to ensure it wasn’t from a handful of countries which means its quality is untraceable. Above all, it should provide a harvest date. This is a fresh-pressed fruit juice, and it doesn’t age well. It’s essential to know when it was pressed so you can use it within 18 - 24 months of that date. We stamp the top of each bottle with a harvest month and date and sell out each year before the new harvest - which is important to me, and our customers know that they will get fresh, extra virgin olive oil.

Do you have a favorite olive oil Inspired Dish you make at home? 

This is a house of olive oil, it’s in everything. I love a garlic-heavy aioli with our olive oil to add on some toast, on a piece of grilled fish or meat, or spooned over a pot of beans. You really get the depth of flavor here.

Your brand has turned into skincare. How did you guys transition into this, and was it always part of the original plan?

Our transition into skincare was a natural one that really started from our first year as a business and our obsession with the mythology, lore, and ancient history of olive oil as this life-enriching ingredient. That led into its application in skincare, as one of the oldest beauty rituals used by pharaohs, queens, and Greek Olympians. We started with the face oil, which is still based on my original formula. I had struggled with acne-prone skin most of my life and it wasn’t until I took a holistic approach to wellness (addressing food allergens, drinking more water, using natural skincare, removing chemical-based beauty products and make up) that I started to see profound results. We wanted to create a universally beneficial line to nourish, heal and support your skin’s needs with a high-performing plant-based skincare line. Wonder Valley is about finding “Grandeur in Simplified Living”, our mantra for doing more with less but really taking stock of the objects and possessions we keep. And that continued into the skincare line: products to support a simple, grounding daily practice for self-care with visible results, tangible benefits, and brings pleasure to your day.

What are the benefits of topical olive oil?

Wonder Valley olive oil is not your typical olive oil. We pick our fruit while it's greener, yielding an oil that’s grassier and brighter in flavor but also has a higher concentration of polyphenols /antioxidants. Topically, extra virgin olive oil is packed with nutrients and vitamins: reparative vitamin E and inflammation-reducing vitamin A and palmitic acid, a powerful emollient. It is rich in oleic acid, a fatty acid that hydrates pores and provides that lasting moisture. It is also a bioavailable source of squalene, a natural component of the epidermis that often gets depleted. Squalene is a skin-strengthener. Too much can clog pores, which is why we balance it with lighter oils like rosehip and sea buckthorn for example in the face oil.

What are some of your top skincare and wellness tips?

Healthy skin is beautiful skin, so ditch any chemical-based quick fixes and support your lively, complex microbiome. The biggest way I support my microbiome is by practicing skinminimalism; use less products and commit to a routine. Harsh ingredients, expired products, or overtaxing my skin with too many products or frequently changing them up will have negative impacts on my microbiome. I think of my complexion as a dashboard; it tells me when I need more rest, water, exercise, when I’ve had too much caffeine, eaten inflammation causing foods, or if my hormones are out of balance.

What Keeps you Inspired and in your creative flow?

Getting offline frequently

Being in nature

Being around creative friends

Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?

We’re looking to create spaces beyond retail where you can interact with the brand and continue expanding the reach and vision of our Wonder Valley world, we feel like we’re just getting started. Outside of work, more time doing the things I love with my sweet family. We have a little island beach cottage in Maine that I am looking forward to getting back to this summer. Hopefully much more travel than the past few years has allowed.

What is the best advice anyone has ever given you?

Joy and prosperity go hand in hand