This weekend Casa Sorelle makes our first wedding show premier! Wow! It is a bit of risk and expense to prepare for a trade show and also a learning curve.
We decided to take the plunge into the trade show world after positive feedback from friends and clients about our new smaller bottles. Giving olive oil as a gift has become very popular and we intend on delivering the best product around! It is not without risks but we are following our instincts and going for it! The market this summer was a great marketing research opportunity and dress rehearsal for doing something like a trade show. With the down time over the holidays we have been doing the final touches on the look and feel of our booth.
Lighting for example. What do we know about lighting? Well we know the general concept of electricity and that words like watt and amp are power related but that is where our electrical knowledge ends. However, the lighting company representative at Stronco was incredibly sympathetic and did a lot of hand holding. Many thanks to them!
Overall, we are both excited and nervous about the show but everyone involved has been incredibly nice to us. The Hamilton Halton show is this weekend at the Hamilton Convention Centre. For more details visit their website: https://www.topweddingshows.com/hamilton-halton-spring-wedding-show
October and November are the buzzing months of the year. Throughout the valley you hear a hum of machines and see the colourful nets that cover the ground like autumn leaves. All the work, noise, nets and effort are for one purpose – the almighty olive!
After watching the amount of back breaking labour needed to create oil, I will never take for granted whenever I pour from a bottle. The whole process is intense! First come the nets. The nets are tied to the bottom of the trees and are wide enough to capture every wayward piece of fruit. (Yes, olives are fruit!)
Next, the olives are “helped” to the ground. This is either done by hand or by shaking a branch with a specialised portable machine. The machine is like a long vibrating arm and during the harvest you can hear them flare up across the countryside. The sound is everywhere and the valley sounds like a giant bee hive! From the first light of morning to the red glow of sunset there is a constant buzz!
Once the olives have been gathered in the nets, the cargo is then taken to the “frantoio” or pressing plant. Timing is vital! Every passing hour is working against you! Why is this so important to olive oil producers? Because as time passes the water content evaporates and increases the acidity level in the fruit. The longer they sit the higher the acidity level and the more bitter the oil. This is critical and timing very important! A high acidic level means the quality of the oil changes and the “extra virgin” category is lost!
While olives are can be plentiful, the oil produced from them is not. Oil is a precious gift but a reluctant one. Every olive counts!
Casa Sorelle extra virgin olive oil is born here!
When we bought our Italian property we knew it had been in the Paradiso family for a very long time. During our trip to sign the purchase papers, we met some of the children that grew up in the house. Buying a long time family home is emotional and we knew that our new family memories would be built on the foundations of those that came before us. We viewed it as a positive! From our perspective, instead of one heart, now the house has two family hearts, beating in common for the love of the land, the trees and that breathtaking view!
Earlier this summer, we were contacted by Robert Paradiso who shared his happy news about getting married. He wanted to give out something special as a bomboniere (wedding favour) that would be high quality and also have emotional ties to the guests. Since our olive oil is from his family’s former land, what could have more impact than to give a taste of the past, a taste of memories and lots of love!
Awwww…it has made us so proud to bring all that together in a bottle. And judging by the number of emails that we have received after the wedding saying how much the oil meant to them, it has made us even more determined to make our olive oil brand a success!
The photographer did our oil proud too! At this point, we don’t have their contact info but as soon as Robert gets back from his honeymoon I will link the information to this post. The images are great and I would recommend their talents any time!
Once again, congratulations to Robert and Samantha! We think you are the picture of love!
It has been another busy week with yet another debut! After having a chat with our friend Jennifer about our olive oil, we arranged a last minute home demonstration for her long standing wine club. It was a spur of the moment decision and what a great time!
It would be the first time Steffanie and I spoke together telling our story to strangers. This project has been so much a part of our lives that trying to condense our story was a challenge! My friends know I love to talk and it is easy to forget to breathe!
It turned out to be a perfect evening! We got to meet a lively crowd of interesting people. Jennifer was a generous and informative host and we all got to learn something! I am willing to admit I know next to nothing about wine. Other than it comes in white, pink and red! Honestly, the first white wine we tasted is now my benchmark going forward in my life. Quite simply the best wine I have ever had in a glass (including pitchers, bottles and boxes).
We also had the opportunity to bring the spirit of taste testing to the evening by comparing our olive oil with the olive oil Jennifer had purchased on her last family holiday to Italy. She was assured by a trusted, personal source that the olive oil was of good quality. I am bias of course that our olive oil is great but I would be a liar if I said comparisons do not make me nervous.
To my relief there wasn’t much of a competition. Steffanie and I have spent quite a bit of our time doing taste tests at home. And we have basically educated ourselves about olive oil in about as “hands on” as you can get. It is hard to avoid emotions and keep a dispassionate point of view when it comes to our product. We love our oil! Other olive oils just do not pass the taste test. Our oil tastes smooth and almost buttery. It is not bitter nor does it have any sort of sour after taste.
It was a sweet beginning and we look forward to doing more! Many thanks to Jennifer and the new friends we made at her fabulous wine club!
Casa Sorelle olive oil demonstrations are now available, please get in touch via Facebook or via the “Contact Us” link on this site!
Casa Sorelle made our farmer’s market debut!
After a chance meeting through a colleague we signed up for seven weeks selling our family olive oil at a new space in the financial district of Toronto. It was a bit of a snap decision having never sold our product at a market before. There was a mad scramble to condense everything we have accomplished in a 183 cm (6′) space. There was a lot to do and we went into “craftiness” overdrive. We only had a week to get ourselves organised and had to address a whole flood of design questions. For example if we are going to get signs printed, what should they say?, what font do we use?, what colours? If we were to offer samples – do we offer bread? if so what kind of bread? How do we cart everything to and from market?
Luckily, Steffanie has a super power. Want to move something? Feeling disorganised? She is your gal. We had our boxes of oil sorted, photos of our Italian paradise ordered and hand soap, hand napkins, tooth picks and cutting board bagged and ready to go. As for me, I booked time off as vacation from my office and we were both crowing with excitement about finally going “live.”
The early morning start was a bit jarring but even with a set up time of 6:00 am nothing could dampen the sense of being on a mission. We were “on it” although bleary eyed. One of our crafty, last minute solutions was figuring out what to hold the signs up with. As a long time addict to Pintrest, I searched DIY card holders and after looking around my apartment found my version of a crafty solution. For one holder I used a rock and the other an old tile sample both bound with a few strands of copper wire. As any television addict from a certain era would say I “Macgyvered” it!
The opening day was a success, we got a lot of support from friends who took the time to drop by the stall. This gave us a public setting and a public reminder to remember we have a lot to be proud of! Admittedly, there have been moments in the past two years when we thought we were stuck on hold however, seeing the enthusiastic faces on strangers gave us a true sense of accomplishment! Sometimes it is hard to see the distance we have traveled and how much our outlook and lives have changed since we took on this project. It has been a bumpy, life changing journey. While we still have our city lives in Toronto, our destination and our path is leading towards the shores of Tyrrhenian sea and a lush mountains of Calabria.
It would be too much of an emotional trip to detail the last few years without a lot of personal sharing that is a bit more private than this blog is meant for. The trials and tribulations within our family including the loss of loved ones are not my focus; however, I would like to say that there is always a light at the end of even the darkest tunnel.
The relaunch of the Casa Sorelle label and our updated design have given us a renewed sense of purpose and drive. We love the changes and are very excited about the new look! Our positive news doesn’t end there! A chance meeting led to a new opportunity showcasing our olive oil at our first ever farmer’s market! We have a dedicated space every Wednesday for the rest of the summer at Scotia Plaza – located in downtown Toronto at the Adelaide St and Bay St entrance. This is a great location for our premier and being able to sell it directly is a dream come true!
At last Casa Sorelle olive oil is on the market! Our lucky break and hard work have paid off! We are ready for our next challenge! Our website via shopify is in the final stages. Fingers crossed we can go live in the next couple of weeks.
Almost there folks and thank you for all of your support!
It has been a while since we posted something but we have been keeping busy plus we had some life drama to deal with.
Unfortunately, our mother suffered a broken leg the same day she was released from the hospital following knee-replacement surgery. That resulted in another operation and a long stay at the hospital. Making sure she was as comfortable as possible and visiting her on a daily basis took up a lot of our spare time. We happily report all is now well and she is back home!
In between our daily hospital visits, we have been focusing on details regarding our Italian escape. Having an amazing resource like mature olive trees is a treasure. Flip through any history book and witness how the past of Calabria is riddled with military exploits to control this fertile land. Why not cultivate what the ancients fought over! Our dream has expanded beyond just escaping – it has evolved into a new reality. We aren’t just visiting, we have planted ourselves. Bringing our oil to market is part of that and we are quite literally watching our “baby” bloom.
First we imported a fifty litre drum of oil and offered it to friends. We wanted objective opinions because its hard to be dispassionate when its your passion! We bottled it ourselves and that torturous endeavor required cool heads and steady hands. Steff is more of a Zen-master label applier and I was mostly banished to a more “supervisory” role. We all have our strengths hahaha! The response has been amazing and we have now taken the formal step of setting up our label to meet government standards for retail sale.
After looking at thousands (no joke) of photos of olives and spending many hours strolling around shops and supermarkets in Toronto we drafted an idea for a label. We knew what sort of “look” we were going for and hired a local designer Kait Bos to help us with the finishing touches. Kait was great to work with and definitely helped us create a label we both love. The sisters proudly present:
Drum roll please ……da da dah dahhhh!
CASA SORELLE EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL!
Coming to a store near you!!