Small Business Monday – Focus on Simply Infused Olive Oil Shop

Have you ever heard of roasted coconut balsamic vinegar?  How about green chili pepper olive oil?  Did you know that balsamic vinegars were once used in drinks and that they’re making a comeback?  In this week’s edition of Small Business Monday, Cheryl Harper tells us about the world of flavor that awaits at Simply Infused Olive Oil Shop.

Cheryl Harper, owner of Simply Infused Olive Oil Shop. Photo by Kristina O’Quinn for Bham Now

My name is Cheryl Harper and I am the owner of  Simply Infused Olive Oil Shop, located at 5361 Hwy 280 #107 Birmingham, AL 35242.  I run the shop and my teenage daughter works part-time.  Her title is “CRR” (Chief
Register Runner).

Birmingham AL
Photo via Kristina O’Quinn for Bham Now

We were inspired in 2012 (while on a working vacation), infused in 2014 when we rented an old Episcopal Church for our location, and our 1st harvest was 2015, when we opened our tasting room. Beginning with a wall mural which read “As old as time, as fine as wine, taste the flavors that make dining divine” and repurposed pews, pulpit and kneeling rails, we transformed the former Saint John’s Episcopal Church in Mt Laurel into the area’s first Olive Oil & Balsamic Vinegar Tasting Room.  This computer-scientist-turned-entrepreneur opened Simply Infused on April Fool’s Day of 2015 with the promotion “Don’t Be Fooled by Your Extra Virgin Olive Oil”. We served our community of Mt Laurel for our first 2 years, then moved to a more convenient location on Hwy 280 in November 2016. We are now entering our 4th year of business in Birmingham.

Photo via Kristina O’Quinn for Bham Now

What was your inspiration for starting your business?

I had been working 14-17hr days in Corporate America and was always connected to work even when I would squeeze in a vacation with my daughter. While on a working vacation in November 2012, my daughter and I visited an olive oil shop. The experience was life changing. We spent about two and a half hours in the shop and talked about opening our own olive oil shop the entire seven hour trip home. It took me about two years to escape corporate America. I wanted to show my daughter that success could be achieved outside of the stress and demands of the corporate world. She told me on day four after leaving that she could see a difference in me.

Birmingham AL
Photo via Kristina O’Quinn for Bham Now

{the following is from our marketing brochure}
Inspired while on a “working vacation” in 2012, this mother-daughter team decided to embark on an adventure which would change their lives. After escaping corporate America in 2014, Simply Infused was “infused. Our mission is simple: “To imbue our patrons with knowledge and a sense of well-being via our products and services.”  Our community is missing opportunities each day to create an epicurean experience, a good conversation, a lasting memory. These opportunities should be Simply Infused in everyday life.

Birmingham AL
A tasting session. Photo courtesy of Simply Infused.

Simply Infused ~ an Olive Oil & Balsamic Vinegar Tasting Room ~ is an experience. Most people have never tasted the types of products we offer. We are purveyors of fresh extra virgin olive oils from all over the world and Balsamic vinegars imported from Modena, Italy. We work with small
family farms in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres so that we can offer our community olive oils from Italy, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Uruguay, New Zealand, Africa, Argentina, Chile and Australia. Our ultra premium EVOO and barrel-aged balsamics are all-natural and infused with plant-based flavorings….no chemicals, no colors, no pesticides. We also offer cooking classes and private tasting socials as we are passionate about getting people to slow down and bringing people together around a table to enjoy friends, food and flavor.  It’s part of our goal of “Infusing Life with Health & Happiness”.

Birmingham AL, oil
Tasting sample of an oil and vinegar pairing. Photo courtesy of Simply Infused.

Of the 25+ extra virgin olive oils we offer, the Baklouti Green Chili Pepper olive Oil from Tunisia is very unusual. Tremendous aroma, delayed “dance on the tastebuds” and a lingering effect create excitement and certainly a culinary experince. This popular olive oil can be used with scrambed eggs, in salsa or with steaks. And speaking of steaks, our 12-year aged Dark Chocolate Balsamic is our most popular for marinating steaks. However, I believe our customers would say using balsamics in a beverage, called a “shrub,” is unusual.  We simply share that it is an old drink with new popularity.

Photo via Kristina O’Quinn for Bham Now

I personally enjoy working with local chefs in recipe deveopment. For chefs, our tasting room is like an adult candy store!  With over 1,000 flavor combinations, I am happiest when I can share in their culinary creations.  Our partnerships with locally owned restaurants create a sense of community which bonds the patron and the palate.  In a city where the food and drink scene is growing and signature dishes and craft cocktails showcase culinary creativity, it is great to have local businesses to partner with for that magic ingredient that makes a culinary creation the talk of the town!

 

The most rewarding thing about being a small business owner is that I love my customers. I never know who is going to walk through the door and whether they will inspire me or I get to inspire them!

For more information – https://www.facebook.com/SimplyInfused.OliveOil.Shop/

Another Bham Now food post – https://bhamnow.com/2017/04/13/a-very-southern-pesach/