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5 Minutes with Matcha Maiden’s Sarah Holloway

From corporate lawyer to fun-trepreneur, Sarah Holloway has spent the last few years diligently tapping away, slowly but surely building up her impressive matcha empire. What started as a fun side hustle – Sarah and her partner Nic first discovered matcha powder in Hong Kong, and quickly fell in love with the stuff – has now transformed into a booming business with an ecommerce store Matcha Maiden, and sleek St Kilda café, Matcha Mylkbar. Between both businesses, her popular ‘Seize the Yay’ podcast and keeping her Spoonful of Sarah Instagram fans up to date, we were lucky enough to sit down with St Kilda’s inspiring entrepreneur to talk about the story behind her businesses and to reveal her St Kilda local tips.

Tell us a little about you

I started off as a corporate lawyer at an international law firm, a very different pathway to where I ended up. I’ve always had both an uber dorky side and a creative side, which I balanced throughout my Law degree with a heavy extracurricular load, an Arts degree and a few overseas exchanges. Once I got into a full-time legal career, I learnt an incredible amount about business and the world, but I realized it didn’t give my creative side enough love. I knew from early on that it wouldn’t be my ‘forever’ career, but I didn’t have a plan as to what I’d do instead. Like many fellow business owners, the career change started of more as a side project to source something I was unable to find for myself. It turned into a booming business quite unexpectedly – I still wake up most days and wonder what on earth happened!   

How does the Matcha Maiden story begin? 

In my first year of law, my partner Nic and I were lucky to spend a month in Rwanda helping build schools. While an incredibly fulfilling experience, I came home with a parasite that turned into adrenal fatigue. I ended up being banned from coffee, which at the time signaled the end of my life as a functioning human being.

For work I was sent to my company’s headquarters in Hong Kong for six months where I rediscovered my love for green tea and the miracles of its more potent form: matcha powder. Matcha is simply green tea leaves ground into powdered form and it has up to 137 times the antioxidants of regular green tea, along with a solid punch of caffeine (without causing the crash and jitters of coffee). So, I’d found a healthier caffeine fix that also tasted great and came in a versatile powdered form. Nic and I, however,  were at a complete loss when we came home to Australia and couldn’t find it anywhere.

Matcha Maiden started to fill the gap we discovered as consumers ourselves. We ordered some matcha online and could only get bulk lots of 10kg. As there would be an enormous amount leftover, we decided to sell some on the side as a little creative outlet and it sold out within a week. Within six months, we got into Urban Outfitters across the USA and I left my job that day to fulfil the volume they were after. A year later we opened Matcha Mylkbar in St Kilda, and now we have warehouses in LA and Melbourne, 1500+ stockists around the world, and a communi-tea of over 100,000 matcha mates. 

Describe your businesses in three words

1.       Green

2.       Healthy

3.       Communi-tea

Exercise of choice?

It changes ALL the time and I go through phases with exercise. I was on a yoga roll last year, but this year I’ve really found higher intensity important for a good mental release from the brain work of our businesses. I love F45 and HIIT classes, but I also try to balance out the yang with some yin too. Scattered throughout the week I make sure to include yoga, pilates and gentle walks with our golden retriever.

How long has your store been a St Kilda hotspot?

Two years.

Things you love about St Kilda

1.       The ocean – there is nothing as nourishing and replenishing as being near the beach.

2.       The institutions – it is home to so many Melbourne institutions like Luna Park, Palace Theatre, Donovan’s, Stokehouse, The Vineyard… 

"I love the diversity of St Kilda..it is such a suburb of contrasts in every respect. The people, demographic, architecture, food, shopping, everything!"

Your number 1 local gem?

It’s a suburb of local gems! That’s what makes it so wonderful! My favourite hidden gem is Aurora Spa – a beautiful health haven hidden above Prince of Wales that feels worlds away from the hustle and bustle of the streets. It’s an amazing urban escape but still so close to everything. Nothing like a good massage to unwind. 

Your weekend ritual?

St Kilda has a few dog beaches, so taking our little furry friends for a swim is a favourite on weekends. Even during Winter, you can meet heaps of locals getting some sea air and letting their dogs enjoy the outdoors.

Your number 1 local tip:

Plan a holiday out of St Kilda during the St Kilda Festival in February.

You know you’re a local when ...

You remember the former names of everything on Acland St.