We think the job title 'funtrepreneur' is pretty cool, and encapsulates so much of what many people in today's world are doing in their lives - creating successful businesses from their own personal passions or side hustles. One such person is the gorgeous Sarah Holloway.
The Melbourne based lawyer packs a lot into a day. The matcha green tea company Matcha Maiden that she co-founded with her partner Nic Davidson as a side hustle, grew to a point in 2015 where she decided to take the leap and leave her job as a mergers and acquisitions lawyer to focus full-time on the business. It's a risk that has paid off as the super successful business continues to thrive, and they've since also co-founded the Matcha Mylkbar (Australia's first matcha cafe in St Kilda, Melbourne) with friends. You'll also find Sarah blogging at Spoonful of Sarah, and most recently she has launched the inspirational Seize the Yay podcast.
We caught up with this dynamo recently, and Sarah talked to us about the business, podcast and personal beauty, health and wellness routines plus what she's most looking forward to this summer.
Take a read of our interview below:
Nude by Nature (NBN): Can you share with us more about your background, your professional career and how you made the decision to leave your legal career, and to work full-time on your then side hustle business, Matcha Maiden.
Sarah: Yes! I’m a lawyer turned 'funtrepreneur’. I started out as a mergers and acquisitions lawyer but made the jump about three years ago now. Law was an amazing place to start my career, but I’m equal parts nerdburger and arty farty, and the latter wasn’t getting enough love. I didn’t, however, expect the chance to change pathways would come so early - it was a complete accident (a very happy one!).
My partner Nic and I went to Rwanda on a charitable expedition in my first year of work and while it was the most incredible experience, I came home with a parasite and dropped over 10kg. In typical A-type fashion, I went straight back to work and didn’t take any time off so inevitably crashed and burned into an adrenal fatigue mess. I was banned from coffee while I recovered - which all but signalled the end of my life as a functioning human being. Around the same time I was sent to the firm’s headquarters in Hong Kong where I rediscovered the marvels of matcha green tea powder. What a miracle - a healthier form of caffeination that still gives you a good buzz without the crash and jitters of coffee! Nic and I both got hooked over there, and came home with a matcha obsession popping it in smoothies, salad dressings, everything!
Unfortunately (or fortunately), we couldn’t find a good supplier anywhere when we got back to Melbourne. We went online to find a high quality, organic middle ground, and could only order in bulk so suddenly had to come up with a way to creatively use all that powder and our side hustle idea was born! Matcha Maiden started as a hilariously DIY 'Breaking Bad' style situation with us packing in a commercial kitchen at midnight after I’d finish work - covered in green powder. I figured if I sold one single bag to a stranger, I could put it on my LinkedIn that I’m an entrepreneur and that’s all I really needed at the time.
However, it turns out we’d stumbled upon a huge gap in the market, and that masses of matcha fans had been waiting for someone to close it for them. Social media also made it incredibly quick and easy to spread the message of our new venture, and we very quickly grew a beautiful communi-tea that reached beyond our Aussie borders and around the world.
Urban Outfitters, the big US fashion giant, discovered us six months in and asked if we could create something custom for their lifestyle section and placed an order that dwarfed our entire sales to that point in time. That’s when I decided to take the jump. While it was an incredibly scary decision, looking back it made so much sense. Which of the two options was never going to be available again? Law would always be there, but the chance to grow a business from scratch off the back of social media and based on a product and industry I love? Once in a lifetime. So I transitioned out after six months, and that was about three years ago now!
We now have warehouses in LA and Melbourne, 1500+ stockists around the globe, have served over three million servings of matcha and have a global communi-tea of over 100,000 people.
We opened a cutting edge plant-based cafe, Matcha Mylkbar, two years in to extend our presence to the physical world. Chris Hemsworth even named it his favourite cafe in Australia! I literally went from dreaming up my life to living my dreams and I still pinch myself every day. And, we have so much in the pipeline, such a bright green future ahead.
NBN: How did you leverage the power of social media to grow Matcha Maiden?
Sarah: We launched purely on social media and it remains our primary form of communication and marketing. While, of course it has its downsides and risks, it is an incredibly powerful and dynamic tool for targeting the right audience and spreading your message quickly, widely and for free!
We invested a lot of time and care into creating a beautiful aesthetic, maintaining a brand tone, and growing an engaged and loyal audience based on relevant interests and passions. We have great relationships with a lot of amazing influencers and also fellow health and wellness brands and we love to collaborate on products to share audiences and further grow the brand.
It’s just such an amazing part of the modern world that democratises influence and business that is unique to our generation of business owners - I wouldn’t even be a business owner without it!
NBN: And now there’s Seize the Yay! Tell us about it. What are your plans for this new podcast?
Sarah: I am SO excited! It’s already been so incredible, and we’re only a few episodes in. My personal profile, Spoonful of Sarah, had been growing incidentally through speaking about the business journey and changing career paths. I’ve met so many amazing people on the way and realised recently what a shame it is that our more honest, open backstage conversations about self-doubt, setbacks, the people behind the brands and their identities outside of work never get shared more widely. I also love to throw myself into something I have absolutely no clue about (hence Matcha Maiden and Matcha Mylkbar), so was ready for a new challenge. My true passion lies in inspiring others to create lives they love and sharing the relatable, behind the scenes of what it takes to get there. So, Seize the Yay was born a few weeks ago, and I’ve been blown away by the response so far.
The idea is purely just to look at what makes people “yay” - so happiness and fulfilment rather than just “busy-ness”, and success or money. Our lives are so linear these days - work and rest - but we’ve lost that beautiful element of play and so often ask “what do you do?” before we ever ask “what do you like?” or “who are you?”. I have also struggled for many years with severe anxiety, and am passionate about sharing the less glamorous moments of challenge, failure or doubt along the way to reassure people that everyone has their battles and happiness is a full time job.
I want it to be different to the existing business, health or women’s podcasts and just look more broadly at finding the “yay” in our lives across all industries, job formats and genders and have such an amazing lineup so far - I literally can’t fall asleep I’m so excited! Stay tuned!
NBN: Can you share any details about the inspiring people you’ll be interviewing on the podcast?
Sarah: Lisa Messenger and Kristina Karlsson have been our first two incredible guests sharing so candidly about their businesses, their lives before and outside of work, their bad habits and challenges. The beautiful Rachael Finch is up next followed by the incredible Osher Gunsberg diving deep into his new book, 'Back, After the Break', and the harrowing battle he has had with mental health and addiction behind the scenes. The confirmed pipeline after that is so exciting but still a secret. There are lots of fellow founders, plus also people in jobs they love including editors, TV stars, Hollywood actors, musicians, sportspeople, medical experts, lawyers and more. Thank you so much to everyone who has contributed such beautiful reviews, shares or feedback so far and please tune in if you haven’t already. You can subscribe here!
NBN: What is your favourite Nude by Nature product, and why?
Sarah: I absolutely love the Natural Mineral Cover Foundation. It’s so light on the skin, doesn’t clog the pores, and breathes well. It also provides amazing coverage. I use it every single day. It doesn’t dry the skin out, plus it’s SPF 15 so I know I’m protecting my skin at the same time as covering up any blemishes or uneven tone. I couldn’t wear any other base again having switched to natural mineral powder.
NBN: A couple of our biggest points of difference as a brand is that all our make-up products are enriched with 100% natural ingredients, and we are proudly cruelty-free. Do you think people are becoming more aware of what’s in the make-up that they use, and are rethinking their product choices?
Sarah: Absolutely, I think we’re finally starting to see a shift in people’s priorities and general awareness of conscious shopping. It’s so strange that we’re so careful with what we put in our bodies but not nearly as much with what we put on them. Even though the skin is the biggest organ! I’m so happy to see that disparity is finally disappearing as people start to understand the impact of their decisions on both their own wellbeing and the environment around us.
NBN: What do you think are a couple of the most important beauty products that every woman should own?
Sarah: Sunscreen! Our generation loves a good bronze tan, however the skin is so delicate and my Mum has always been religious with us about sun protection. She looks decades younger than she is, so I’m following her example!
A light mineral powder is also a must as it serves you well for daytime, night-time, a no make-up look or a full face for going out. Same goes for mascara, it’s my go-to as there’s nothing like plump lashes to make you feel feminine and ready to face the world!
NBN: What are a couple of destinations on your travel bucket list?
Sarah: Nic and I have travelled a lot so far. We both adore travelling and have done some pretty cool trips; the Middle East, Africa, all over Europe. Next up though would be Egypt (which was too violent when we were last booked to go), Sri Lanka and South America.
NBN: Favourite forms of exercise, and any words of wisdom about being inspired to be more active?
Sarah: I love a bit of everything. I’m really “phase-y” rather than mixing it up. At the moment I’m really enjoying F45, and higher intensity stuff as my mind is so busy. However, a little while ago I was all aboard the yoga and pilates train when I needed something more gentle and yin. I also love a good long walk with the dog somewhere in nature - it's so good for mental health and overall physical conditioning. I’ll pretty much try anything. I box occasionally, do spin classes (very occasionally) plus, I do weights and strength training in between too, or a body weight circuit if I’m travelling.
I’m in a good routine now but for the first two years of the business I barely exercised at all - so ironic. I thought going into wellness I’d be the picture of health, but I got so excited and nothing felt like work so I never took a break. Now I realise how vital it is not just for your body but for your mind, and I’ve slowly reintegrated a routine into my life. The big thing that helped me is that consistency is most important - there's no point doing five sessions a week then dropping off for a month.
It’s better to just choose an amount that’s sustainable and stick with that over the longer term until you can build up over time. Now I exercise hard about 3-4 times a week, but I also listen to my body so when that’s seeming too much or too little, I’ll change things up.
NBN: Do you have an inspirational quote that you absolutely love?
Sarah: SO MANY! I adore motivational quotes and share one daily on my Instagram stories. My favourite is, “doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will”.
NBN: Spring and summer are upon us (yay!), and as a Melbourne local, we’d love to hear your recommendations for visitors about a few awesome places to hang out in the warmer months in Melb’s.
Sarah: Well, I do know of a great plant-based cafe right by St Kilda Beach called Matcha Mylkbar! But seriously, Melbourne is the most exciting place to be in the warmer months, and even regional Victoria has so many gems you can reach in an hour or so. I love Albert Park lake for a beautiful walk, The Tan and Botanic Gardens, anywhere along the beach or somewhere near water. It’s so beautiful and calming in summer. There are so many events and pop ups around too - night markets, moonlight cinema, rooftop bars. It’s the place to be!
Thank you, Sarah!
All images courtesy of Sarah Holloway.