A Cup of Chai with Sarah Holloway from Matcha Maiden and Matcha Mylkbar
We caught up with Sarah Holloway from Matcha Maiden and Matcha Mylkbar this month for a cup of chai. In our interview with Sarah talks about
You started your working life as a lawyer in mergers and acquisitions and are now a well-established 'wellness warrior' co-founding Matcha Maiden and Matcha Mylkbar with you partner, Nic. Can you share with us how this all came about?
We’re a couple from Melbourne who decided to start a little “side project” which unexpectedly turned into a beautiful flourishing matcha family! Our two main businesses are Matcha Maiden and, more recently, Matcha Mylkbar (the crazy, exciting specialty matcha and plant-based café with all the rainbow lattes, green burgers and vegan eggs). As you mentioned, I started my working life in a very different context as a corporate mergers and acquisitions lawyer at an international law firm. Nic was already in the entrepreneurial world with several businesses under his belt, including his own full-service creative and digital agency and an enterprise software development tech company, but he had never ventured into food, hospitality or retail before. We are both quite passionate about health, fitness and wellbeing and I particularly was finding this hard to reconcile with the long hours and lifestyle in the legal profession. So we started Matcha Maiden as a creative outlet and a way to spend more time together never expecting to end up where we are today!
We discovered matcha on several of our overseas adventures – firstly in its traditional context in Japan and later in the USA in the health food arena. When we got home, we were surprised to find that Australia was a little bit late to the matcha party despite its very strong health food market. We were unable to find a product that was at once organic, reasonably priced and well branded – everything was either too expensive and not very palatable or too cheap and not very high quality. So we decided to find our own middle ground blend and started Matcha Maiden when we were only able to find it in bulk and realized we had to do something with the leftovers! We’ve since grown Matcha Maiden into a global matcha family of over 80,000 followers and 1000 stockists around the world. I left my job after we locked in our first big USA contract with Urban Outfitters. Nic has continued to grow his other businesses as well, but I now work solely on Matcha Maiden and Matcha Mylkbar. So we have a very bright green future ahead!
Can you tell us a bit about Matcha Maiden and how someone might use Matcha?
I stopped drinking coffee a while ago during a bit of a health crisis and matcha quickly took its place. I’ve always loved green tea, so to find a coffee replacement that tastes delicious and bears so many health benefits was a dream! Just for background, matcha has been around for centuries as a ceremonial tea and is used by Zen Buddhist monks in meditation. It can sound complex, but it’s actually simple – its pure green tea leaves ground into powder so you consume the whole leaf instead of just brewing the water and then throwing out the leaves. Because you get the benefits of the whole leaf, you get up to 137 x the antioxidants of regular green tea and up to 10 x the overall nutritional content!!
Because it comes in a powdered form, matcha is also much more versatile. Discovering how many different ways you can use it, I couldn’t understand why it wasn’t already everywhere! Despite being around for centuries, no one seemed to have marketed it as a more versatile daily use product, so our point of difference was to move it from the “tea” category to the “superfood” category. We wanted to introduce it to the broader market not as an expensive niche product, but as something everyone can enjoy whether you’re a tea drinker or not. The uptake has been wonderful which is pretty exciting! In fact, most of our customers don’t use it as a tea at all preferring more creative and exciting recipes – they blow us away every day! So matcha magic!
You have had an amazing few years. What are you hoping to achieve in 2017?
My big thing this year is re-learning how to achieve balance in my life. The businesses have taken us on an incredible, crazy journey but have also been fairly all consuming. Now that we’re two years in, I have felt the effects of burnout and realised that “start-up” lifestyle is no longer sustainable (and isn’t necessary now that we’re a bit more established). So I’m hoping to achieve more of my personal, non-business-related goals (including actually setting some to begin with!) The main would be my own wellbeing – the irony of running a health and wellness business is that your own can get overlooked in the process because you’re just so passionate about your work (and it doesn’t feel like work). So getting enough rest, downtime and play time in is my priority!
I know you love to travel having visited more than 30 countries around the world. Can you tell us about your favourite country and why?
That is far too hard a question to answer! I have so many favourites for so many different reasons… I absolutely loved Petra in Jordan, it was breathtaking. Jerusalem is also a very special place. We spent some time in Rwanda in Africa, which was life-changing… Too hard to choose!
What do you do in your down time? In fact, do you have down time?
Haha, as mentioned above, I haven’t had much until now. This year, though, I’m much stricter with forced down time and spend at least an hour day as well as Sunday doing things that are “just for the sake”. I start with a short meditation to get my mind out of work mode. After that, I often walk the dog without my phone, watch a trashy TV show (I’m a sucker for terrible soapies or crime shows), write, draw, read…
I know you have experimented in cooking with Prana Chai. Can you tell us a little bit about your favourite Prana Chai dessert creation?
I created some Prana Chai mini cheesecakes a while ago and they were absolutely DELICIOUS!!!!! I have Prana most days as a drink, but hadn’t experimented in cooking much until I realised I loved the flavour so much that it just made sense. And mini cheesecakes are so easy to whip up but appear so much fancier and more complex than they are – that counts as a cooking win to me! The spices added an extra dimension to the tangy flavour bomb!
How can people find out more about you?