Skyler Mapes – Talent and good product win in entrepreneurship

January 21, 2021

Open the Joy interview on Enterprise League

Going into business with your spouse is perceived high-risk by the general public. However, this can’t be said for Skyler Mapes who trusted her husband’s business idea and instead of supporting him from afar, she went all-in and became the co-founder of EXAU Olive Oil.

If this was ordinary olive oil, she might have invested her entrepreneurial skills elsewhere, but Italian-made olive oil of superior quality sold in California is not an opportunity to miss. She embarked on this journey, after a thorough market research, excited for the adventure ahead – from Cali to Calabria and back in 7 months, only to hone the product to perfection.

Although her husband, Giuseppe, is 3rd generation olive oil producer with a lot of insights from the industry, it’s the collision of his knowledge with her entrepreneurial spirit making all the difference in the company’s success.

Feeling under-appreciated as an employee, a nonexistent work-life balance, financial struggles, getting out of bad relationships – these are the most common triggers that push women to become entrepreneurs. Tell us about your trigger?

Work-life balance was not great at my previous workplace. However, the main reason I left was because I didn’t feel fulfilled and knew I wanted to be completely independent. I do not like working for other people, I feel it stifles my growth and doesn’t allow me to pursue many of my creative ideas.

Quote from Skyler-Mapes , co-founder of EXAI Olive OIl

How did you come up with your business idea?

It actually wasn’t my idea. My business partner is my husband and he came up with the idea to start an olive oil company after being underwhelmed by the olive oils he found on the shelf in California. I was against the idea until I started doing more research into the industry. I became convinced we could build an incredible company if we truly did things differently.

Have you had support from someone, even if just encouragement? Who was that and how did it help you?

I’ve had help from many people. However, I only confide in a small group of people. My mentor, small group of girlfriends, and publicist have been my biggest supporters in every way imaginable! I feel extremely supported.

Female entrepreneurs are often underestimated and overlooked. Have you ever felt at a disadvantage?

Everyday. It’s wild.

Some say it’s hard work, others say it’s talent and resourcefulness that play a crucial role for success in entrepreneurship? Which traits have been instrumental for your success so far? And why?

Both. You can become an entrepreneur without much talent but it’s going to be extremely difficult to stay competitive. People are drawn towards products and people that make them feel good. It takes talent and the right resources to create an incredible product

What excites you the most about being an entrepreneur?

Knowing the next day is going to hold a delightful and/or terrible surprise *adrenaline junky*. 

Share with us some of the worst business advice you’ve ever received?

Talk to as many people as you can about your business idea, especially your family and friends. 

It sounds like good advice but it’s not because family and friends don’t want you to fail and when starting a business there’s always a risk of failure. Only confide in a small group of people that don’t care if you fall on your face. They will be honest about your business idea and be blunt about whether or not that idea or product will work.

You’ve got a high stake investment opportunity. Pitch your business in 150 words.

I don’t want anyone invested in my business.

What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to inspire aspiring entrepreneurs?

Trust your gut.

What are your goals for the upcoming year?

Bringing more products on board! The EXAU line of products will be expanding.

Any final words to end this interview?

I want to see more people of color in the luxury goods industry.

Connect and partner up with EXAU Olive Oil on Enterprise League

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