Trendsetter to Know: Brenda Rea, Owner & Founder of Olivespa

Name: Brenda Rea

Twitter: @olivespa_az

Facebook: @olivespaAZ

Instagram: @olivespa_az

Website: www.olivespa.com

Age: 60

Title: Owner and Founder of Olivespa

Married/Single: Married

Kids: Five; three girls (Sydney, Este, and Joey) and two boys (Angelo and John)

City you live in: Phoenix

A typical day in my life includes…  My day always starts off with washing my face with our own olive oil soap and using Olivespa Hydrating Toner, followed by our Nourishing Face Oil. While I am doing this, I am oil pulling with Olivespa Daily Swishing Oil – this is an Ayurvedic practice meant to remove toxins from and cleanse your mouth, almost like a natural mouthwash.

I may head to Queen Creek Olive Mill where our production facility and office are located, but more likely, I am working from home where I am able to get work done while keeping up the house or being Grandma to my 2 young grandchildren. I like to bake, and I make all our own bread at home. I try to change recipes to make them healthier as I believe that healthy eating and exercise are the keys to good health. 

In the evenings my husband and I try to get in a little pickleball – we are fast becoming pickleball addicts!

I was born… in Montreal, Canada. My parents were both born in Montreal. I am the middle of 3 kids with an older sister and younger brother. My family moved around quite a bit as I was growing up and I spent a year of high school in a Swiss boarding school and another year in a Canadian boarding school while my parents were living in Saudi Arabia.

My husband and I met and married in London, Ontario in Canada and we had our first 3 baby girls in London. We moved to Michigan (where my husband was born) and had our first son, then moved to Arizona and had our second son. That was almost 25 years ago.

My favorite thing about Arizona… This is not original, but I absolutely love the weather in Arizona! I love that we can grow our own oranges, lemons, and grapefruits in our back yard, and I love that we can escape the extreme summer heat by travelling 2 to 3 hours north in Arizona where summer temps are beautiful, and you can go skiing in the winter!

I’m listening to… I like to listen to podcasts when we are road-tripping. My son got me into Joe Rogan and I do like the way he tells it like it is. I also like to listen to various natural health pod casts.

My family… We have 3 daughters and 2 sons all grown and out of the house, living on their own. Two of our daughters are married and one has 2 young children. Hoping for more grandchildren in the near future!

If I could have dinner with anyone, it would be…

I would love to sit down to dinner with my grandmother who moved to Canada from Ireland when she was 19 years old. When she was alive, I was too young to even think about asking all the questions I would love to have answers to. Everybody has a story and I wish I knew hers a little better.

One thing I cannot live without…

I cannot live without my Olivespa Lavender Rose Hand Salve. I keep it close at all times to keep my hands soft and moisturized, and it can even double as a lip balm if I don’t happen to have that handy.

When I was younger, I wanted to be…

I went to school in Toronto, right after high school, for fashion design and merchandising. I wanted to work in the world of fashion, and I enjoyed sewing my own clothes as a teenager. The creative process has always been a big part of who I am.

I’m inspired by… My children and my grandchildren are my biggest inspirations. They inspire me to be better and to always do my best.

Brenda and her daughter, Joey

The one person who motivates me is… My daughter Joey works for me and runs my day-to-day operations at Olivespa. She is the one who has pushed me further into this business than anyone. We talk on a daily basis, collaborate on future projects, and get our creative juices flowing together.

If I could change anything in the world, it would be…To have more people educated in the benefits of natural healing, and natural self-care.

The perfect day would be… Spending a day together with all 5 of my children, their children and significant others, and having a big Italian feast cooked up by my husband and his various sous chefs (our kids). Luckily, they all took after their dad and love to cook! 

The next perfect day is me, alone, laying on a white sand beach, reading a book with the sound of gentle waves in the background. I would need that after the big Italian feast!

My first job was… If you go way back, my very first job was at 10 years old, delivering newspapers in the neighborhood. My first job while in college was at the Toronto Eaton Center, as a salesgirl in the department store Simpsons which is not even in existence anymore – so that’s also going way back!

My favorite escape… When we head up north to Show Low, in Arizona, and we start to hit the tall pines, I find myself breathing a sigh of relief and feeling a sense of calm come over me. It’s not too far away so a weekend escape is easy, but far enough that it feels like you are most definitely away from it all!

I’m currently working on… I am always working on new products for Olivespa. I’ll see something and say to myself, I can make a better version of that – a healthier version, or a cleaner version. My latest project is the baby towel sets for our Olivespa Baby line. I decided to have organic cotton hooded baby towels and wash cloths made in Arizona, so I found a manufacturer in Tempe and sourced certified organic cotton terry fabric from the Netherlands. This was quite an undertaking, and nothing I had done before. The towel sets are finished, and we are just getting them onto the shelves at the Queen Creek Olive Mill and at our Kierland shop, as well as on our olivespa.com website. I am so pleased to be able to offer my customers a quality product made right here in Arizona!

Always… Always be respectful.

Never… Jump to conclusions – listen and hear it out.

Favorite Quote… I had this quote by Margaret Thatcher printed and hanging in my kitchen for years:

“Watch your thoughts for they become words. Watch your words for they become actions. Watch your actions for they become habits. Watch your habits for they become your character. And watch your character for it becomes your destiny. What we think, we become.” 
― Margaret Thatcher

Biggest Dream… I think I am living my biggest dream! My husband and I picked up everything, including 4 young children and one on the way, to move to Arizona, to plant an olive farm and make olive oil. And here we are, almost 25 years later, with a thriving business in Queen Creek, Arizona, making extra virgin olive oil and so many other wonderful products. Our 5 children have blossomed into respectful, caring and successful young adults and I couldn’t be more proud of each of them.

Bio-on yourself/company: My husband Perry and I moved to Arizona almost 25 years ago with the idea of planting olive trees and making extra virgin olive oil in the desert. We did a lot of research including travelling to California and taking a course through UC Davis, travelling to Italy to each get our Olive Oil Sommelier certificates and touring both regions to learn how others were doing this. As we learned more and more about olive oil, I discovered that olive oil had been used as a skin moisturizer for centuries – think Cleopatra!

This was the catalyst for Olivespa. I started making my own body oils, soaps and lip balms in my kitchen while the kids were at school. We began to sell these products at the Queen Creek Olive Mill and the demand grew to a point where I couldn’t keep up with my kitchen production. At this time, we created a production facility onsite at the Queen Creek Olive Mill, and we continue to grow every year as more and more people are becoming educated about the importance of using all-natural skin care.

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