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Meet Dena Armstrong of Outrageous Olive Oils & Vingegars in Old Town Scottsdale

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dena Armstrong.

Dena, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Growing up a child in the 70’s, I ate my fair share of casseroles smothered in Cream of Mushroom Soup along with white bread with margarine. If we ate a salad it was covered in Thousand Island Dressing. I wasn’t aware that anything else existed. When I became an adult, I realized how important food choices were to maintain a healthy weight as well as ward off diseases. Several years ago, I stumbled into an olive oil and vinegar tasting room in Colorado and fell in love! I knew that olive oil was essential for optimal heart health as well as cognitive memory, diabetes, lowering cholesterol, and fighting off cancer so I couldn’t wait to make it a part of my daily diet.

Two years ago, I was presented with an opportunity to purchase an established olive oil store in Scottsdale and I jump on it. Although I was a busy real estate broker, and still am, I couldn’t wait to educate people on the importance of adding a high quality and fresh extra virgin olive oil to the daily diet along with all the incredible health benefits of consuming vinegar. Today, we have a large following of not only experienced foodies, but also beginners who are just learning about the fabulous world of oils and vinegars.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
As with any business, entrepreneurship has its challenges. I have been self-employed for over 12 years and have experienced many ups and downs. The biggest challenge is the uncertainty of tomorrow. After receiving a Master’s Degree in Education, I started my career as a public school teacher and I knew exactly what my income and benefits looked like and felt a sense of security. I took a big leap of faith and jumped into real estate and quickly learned that if I was going to succeed, I needed a great deal of patience, determination, and self-motivation. Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart. I knew I wanted to “be my own boss and make my own money” and that is exactly what I did. Owning an olive oil and vinegar tasting room was not on my radar but I am a believer in not letting good opportunities pass you by. Opportunities are never lost…..they will be picked up by someone else who isn’t held back by fear.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Outrageous Olive Oils & Vinegars is a complimentary tasting room with over 50 varieties of olive oil and balsamic vinegars. We proudly offer Ultra Premium (UP) extra virgin olive oil. This classification is given only to olive oil that has been chemically tested at the time of crush to ensure the chemistry in the oil exceeds all other standards in the world. The Ultra Premium standard is the highest standard in the world and you will always find a nice selection at our store with the chemistry displayed on the stainless steel fustis which contain our extra virgin olive oil which is bottled for you at the time of purchase. We are now aware that 80% of all olive oil in supermarkets has been exposed as fake or adulterated with other oils so knowing that our farmers must submit a sample of each new harvest to be tested gives peace of mind to our customers, especially for those that consume the recommended daily allowance suggested by their doctor.

Another thing that sets us apart from other stores is that we use a dual hemisphere approach to make sure we are offering the freshest olive oil to our customers. Every 6 months, we rotate our supply between the northern and southern hemispheres. Freshness trumps everything when it comes to olive oil. Most are familiar with olive oil from Italy or Spain which is crushed in Nov/Dec but are unaware that the southern hemisphere (Australia, South Africa, Uruguay, Chile) produces beautiful olive oil in May/June. In addition to the extremely fresh and high-quality olive oil, we are just as proud of our extensive collection of aged balsamic vinegars, particularly, our Traditional Balsamic which has been aged for up to 18 years.

What were you like growing up?
I was always an over-achiever as a child. I was definitely a leader and not a follower. I was raised to believe if you work hard you will be blessed Just as important, I also believed in the “get by giving” philosophy. At a young age, I understood this concept and found it rewarding to help others get what they want. Perhaps this is why I became an educator in my early career. I was fortunate enough to know that all work and no play is a recipe for a disaster and balance is essential for a healthy and happy life. I grew up surrounded by musical theater and dance and still, to this day, there are very few show tunes I don’t know!

As a young girl, I couldn’t wait to get married and have a family. I may not have known what I was going to be when I grew up but I knew there was nothing more important than being a mom. I am a very proud mother of two grown daughters today and will be celebrating my 24th wedding anniversary next spring…..2 of my greatest accomplishments!

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