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Exploring Life & Business with Skyler Mapes and Giuseppe Morisani of EXAU Olive Oil

Today we’d like to introduce you to Skyler Mapes and Giuseppe Morisani.

Hi Skyler and Giuseppe, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
We didn’t mean to get involved with the olive oil industry. Giuseppe and I were actually living on opposite sides of the world with me, Skyler, in Oakland and Giuseppe in Rome. We met seven years ago and eventually decided to reside in the U.S. While visiting grocery stores in the Bay Area Giuseppe noticed there weren’t any oils from Calabria or any oils that had similar flavor profiles. Annoyed, he called his mom and asked if she would consider sending him a large tank of olive oil and she happily agreed. Then friends started asking if they could get oil as well. That’s when Giuseppe had the initial idea to start an olive oil company.

I was not on board at all as I was currently working in the design world, however, I had always been interested in wine. A friend of mine owned a winery and I asked her if I could help work harvest and she kindly said yes. I loved working in the winery and thought if making olive oil is even remotely similar, I might be interested.

After two years Giuseppe and I moved to his hometown of Le Castella in September 2017 to work our first full harvest. Giuseppe’s family had been producing olive oil for almost a century but not on a commercial scale. We knew that if we truly wanted to create something special and compete in the U.S. market, we had to control every single aspect of our business including harvest, bottling, branding, imports, and sales. It was a huge undertaking as companies, especially in South Italy, do not tackle all of these tasks. EXAU was born.

We had a huge launch party at home and then started working at small local markets in order to connect with our community. From there, we set up our ecommerce store, launched our olive oil club memberships, and just kept growing. We’ve always put customer education at the forefront of EXAU and we believe that’s why consumers trust us so much. It helps to create transparency in the industry and allows us to take back the narrative in the world of olive oil. In the past year, we’ve been featured in Food & Wine, La Cucina Italiana, Forbes, Oprah Magazine, NY Mag, and so many more publications!

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Absolutely not. The road to ‘success’ is never linear. It’s such a cliche but it’s true. Success is built on failure and we have no problem failing. In fact, without failing regularly we wouldn’t be here. In business usually what can go wrong will go wrong and you have to continuously be a problem solver. Equipment breaks, vendors fall through, people may go back on their word, deliveries will be late or early.

We work in an industry that is heavily impacted by the weather. There could be catastrophic weather or a harvesting deadline is too tight. You have to adapt. It can be stressful at first but you learn in time that you can work through just about anything as long as you keep trying and put in the work. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help or guidance, that can save you so much headache and time.

As you know, we’re big fans of EXAU Olive Oil. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
EXAU is an Italian olive oil brand that specializes in producing high-quality Calabrian extra virgin olive oil. We are family-owned by husband and wife Giuseppe and Skyler. Giuseppe’s family has been producing olive oil for almost 100 years and Skyler has a background in wine making and the design world. Our olive oils are unique because most of our olives are 100% grown and milled in Calabria, Italy within a 5 mile radius, most of which are grown on our family estate.

All of our vendors are located in Calabria, enabling us to work exclusively with family-owned or small businesses and keep our money within the region. This is important to us as Calabria is one of the poorest regions of Italy and in need of a redistribution of wealth. In addition, we work with a chemist, biologist, and agronomist year-round in order to ensure the health of our plants, soil, and quality of oil. By managing each step within our business from harvest to importation and sales, we are able to ensure our quality is always of the highest quality.

Alright so before we go can you talk to us a bit about how people can work with you, collaborate with you or support you?
Buy our oil(s)! Request your local supermarket carry our oils! Tell all your family and friends about the couple in Calabria shaking things up in the olive oil industry! Tell your chef friends about us! Also, follow us on social media and tag us 🙂

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