A handmade business: 20 years of Olieve & Olie

If the plant world had a species that was similar to the animal kingdom’s chameleon, surely it would have to be the olive bush. From salad dressing, edible fruits and cough syrup through to body creams, the olive is an extremely versatile piece of produce.

One small business that has been extolling the skin care benefits of the olive for two decades is Olieve and Olie, based in Mornington, Victoria.

Small beginnings on the Gunbower Creek

The team at family business Olieve & Olie started making luxurious olive-oil skin care products on a 15-acre property on the banks of the Gunbower Creek - in far north Victoria.

The owners, Andy and Jude Steele, planted a large grove of some 2000 olive trees and within five years the trees were producing superior quality olives in large volumes. That’s when Jude began making olive oil soap right there on the farm.

“In the beginning, I made all the products in 20-litre saucepans in the farm-house kitchen at the Gunbower Creek olive grove,” says Founder Jude.

“Now, I make the products in 100-litre kettles in our Rosebud factory, but the work is still all done by hand.”

These days Jude and husband Andy are joined in the business with their daughter Sarah. Together they run an award-winning business based on their own skin care recipes.

“Olive oil is a very versatile product. Not only is it a kitchen staple, but it is also perfect for the skin. Many people believe olive oil will make your skin oily, but that is not true at all. The reason for this is that it mimics the oil your skin naturally produces,” says Sarah.

“In fact, the chemical structure of olive oil is the closest to your skin’s natural oil than any other naturally occurring oil. And because of this, it penetrates the skin’s deeper layers and regulates moisture levels from the inside out,” says Sarah.

Nature in a bottle

There are now ten skin-care products in the Olieve and Oli range, each with different fragrance options such as Sweet Orange, Lavender and Rose Geranium; Bergamot and Clary Sage, and native scents such as Saltbush and Blue Gum; and Wild Lemon Myrtle.

“Every single ingredient is natural. We source our organic beeswax from hives in Western Victoria. We only use essential oils and cold pressed oils in our products. Our philosophy is to source ingredients that have had as little processing as possible.

“We love using ingredients that have come straight from the earth, or a tree, or the sky. We believe this is what makes our products unique and why people keep coming back for them,” says Jude

Just right for dry skin

Although the journey began with olive oil-based soaps, the family started making body butter in 2005 and have continued to expand their product range. They already knew that olive oil was especially good for people with very dry skin, so they wanted to make products that had a high concentration of olive oil.

Founder, Jude Steele, has a background in chemistry and medical technology - and a passion for all things natural and organic.

“We created the body butter for people who needed a richer cream, people with extremely dry or sensitive skin. My first grandchild was born shortly after we began making the body butter, so I started using the body butter on her dry skin and it was amazing,” says Jude.

“We still get surprised at the number of people who say to us “I’ve tried everything on my skin and nothing works as well as your products!” The secret is the Australian grown olive oil, it really is incredible!” says Jude.

Handmade for health

The Olieve and Olie team are committed to producing high-quality products that are good for people and preserve the environment. The products are not tested on animals and all the olives are free from pesticides and any harmful chemicals.

“Olive oil is rich in antioxidants and vitamin E,” says Sarah. “It is also one of the most sustainable oils, due to the fact the trees require little water, they do not need to be sprayed with chemicals, and the olives can be harvested year after year without destroying the trees.”

“Where we can, we source our ingredients directly from the producers. This ensures that we know exactly how our ingredients are grown, that they are chemical free and grown and harvested naturally, ethically and sustainably. These principals are really important to us,” says Sarah.

Build a business from what you know and love

While some business owners may be tempted to outsource production of products to a factory or look to substitute ingredients in order to make cost saving as their customer-bases grow, the team at Olieve and Olie are living proof that sometimes it pays to stick to your roots and make sure that your business maintains a focus based on the philosophies, ideas, and reasons that you began our venture in the first place.

After all, knowing your reason for starting a business can help you to stay well aligned and connected to your customers and ensure that you continually deliver the products that appeal to their ideals they share with you as a business owner. It could be the path to selling more online, just like Olieve and Olie have done via their own website.

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