by Sally O’Neil, Editor in Chief
I LOVE this girl. I mean, we’re walking serious #girlcrush. Not only is Sarah Holloway one amazing business woman, she’s beautiful, kind, inspiring and down-right humble. Not only has she built a massive business empire with her partner Nic in under a year, but she was also working as a full-time lawyer until just a few months ago. When she visited Sydney recently, she asked to meet, and we bonded instantly – talking green smoothies, business and social media. Want to know more about this gorgeous powerhouse? Check out my inspirational interview with her below.
Who or what inspired you to start Matcha Maiden?
Matcha Maiden actually started quite accidentally. My partner, Nic, and I started it as a creative side project last year. I was a mergers and acquisitions lawyer at the time and Nic was (and still is) heading up his own creative agency along with several other businesses.
The idea came out of our own personal struggle to find the perfect matcha. We had discovered matcha on some of our travels and got hooked, particularly in LA where it was being used not just as a ceremonial tea but as a superfood (because LA is always so many years ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to health). When we came home, we couldn’t find anything that was both affordable and high quality unless you ordered it from overseas in bulk. How to get rid of 10kg of matcha powder? Why start a business of course and hope that you’ll sell a few bags here and there to get through enough of it to justify buying it. We’d always wanted to start a business together but didn’t realise this would be it, until it quite unexpectedly took off and sold out in the first week! It’s been matcha madness since then. A very pleasant surprise!
What’s your food philosophy?
I’m really not a big fan of super restrictive diets – I love food too much to stick to them and I think they often encourage obsessive eating behaviours that can become dangerous and all consuming. We demand so much of our bodies these days and we need to nourish them properly rather than depriving them of fuel. I personally can’t function when I haven’t eaten enough or eaten very well, so I try to eat a varied and nutritious diet balancing protein, veggies, fruit and carbs.
When it comes to body image, I think both diet and exercise are important. Restricting your food intake and feeling hungry all the time is no fun at all and not a very sustainable solution – I’d rather increase my exercise levels and still be able to enjoy my meals. It’s important to indulge every now and then too and be flexible when it comes to special occasions or social events – let’s face it, life is short and desserts are amazeballs. On the flip side, our eating culture has developed to have nothing to do with hunger. I know I’m terrible at portion control and have almost no awareness of when I’m full (or if I do, I ignore it). Stuffing yourself is probably just as bad as starving yourself – again, it’s all about finding the middle ground and everyone’s middle ground will be different depending on your height, weight, exercise levels, and general physical make-up. Listen to your body and do what makes it feel best!
What’s your proudest moment or achievement to date?
That’s a very hard question! Every day something new happens that blows my mind more than the day before. I beam with pride all day long at the amazing matcha family we’ve grown and how far and wide it has spread. I think securing Urban Outfitters as our first stockist in the USA was probably one of the most surreal moments of the Matcha Maiden journey so far. I mean, how did such a massive and amazing global store find our teeny little matcha company run out of Melbourne? And then seeing strangers across the USA (and the world) tagging us in their creations? There’s no feeling like it – I can’t even describe it. Let’s just say, the heart gets very full!
Seeing our matcha pop up all over the world is just the most exciting thing. The day it went from friends to strangers was very exciting too – we forget that when we sell a bag, a person actually receives it at the other end who doesn’t know it’s just us two behind the company. It’s all very overwhelming but so wonderful!
Do you have any tips for aspiring entrepreneurs in the wellness business?
- There’s never a perfect time to start so if you have a good idea don’t waste any time! Just get started! We all fall victim to self-doubt far too often – don’t spend all your time worrying about what won’t work instead of putting your energy into what will. You’ll never know until you try and you’ll figure it out as you go – we’re all winging it and learning along the way, so you’re in good company.
- Surround yourself with the right people. It’s so valuable to have people around you who are inspiring, creative, supportive and understanding. You can learn so much from other people’s ideas and experiences and you can also really benefit from having some helping hands or even just some encouraging words when you’re exhausted or disheartened. Mentors are incredibly important too – and don’t feel bad, you’ll end up paying it forward one day to the next aspiring entrepreneurs!
- Always ask or the answer is automatically no. When you’re out on your own, you have to create opportunities for yourself because no one else is around to give them to you. If you feel awkward asking for something you’ll become your own worst enemy, because by not asking you might be missing out on something great that the other person is more than happy to provide. You’d be surprised how often you get a “yes” when you were sure you’d get a “no” – it’s always worth asking just in case.
- REST. When you first start your own business, it’s so exciting and you’re so passionate that you can too easily burn yourself out. Many of us go from not being able to wait to finish work to not ever wanting to stop. It doesn’t feel like work, which means we forget to make time for the things that our bodies need to be able to do what we demand of them. Rest, exercise and down time are crucial!
Any new & exciting news on the horizon?
We’re heading off to the US in October on the Matcha Maiden mission! Our first US stockist, the incredible Urban Outfitters, sold out of their first lot of Mix N Matcha far quicker than expected so they’ve locked in their re-orders until the end of the year. We thought that was a sign that we should head over and spend some time on the ground – very exciting!
If I looked inside your fridge, what would I find?
A few fresh young coconuts – I’m absolutely obsessed with them! I also always have a collection of veggies on hand and some kind of protein – I like to mix it up so it really depends on the week.
What would your last supper be?
That is another super difficult question. As I’ve mentioned, I ADORE food so I don’t even know where to start…. It would have to somehow involve avocado… and sweet potato and mushrooms… and seafood… and almond butter…. Or maybe a big Japanese feast – my favourite cuisine. Or maybe a Sunday roast… Oh this is far too hard! I’d have to stay true to my signature inability to stop eating when I’m full and just eat one of everything of my favourite foods!