Funtrepreneur / Matcha Maiden + Matcha Mylkbar
One thing is certain… add a spoonful of Sarah Holloway to your day and you’re guaranteed to be inspired. At only 28 years of age Sarah’s bio only scrapes the surface on her remarkable career to date – but it seems that Sarah was destined for success long before she finished Year 12.
Growing up in the South Eastern suburbs of Melbourne, Sarah’s family were vivid travellers, and it was this thirst for ‘wonderlust’ that continued to drive Sarah through high school and beyond. In this #careerstory we follow Sarah from her time in Year 12, to studying Law at University, and to that crucial ‘moment’ when everything changed.
This interview is for every girl that is scared that they won’t get a high enough ATAR score, or is petrified that they STILL don’t know what they want to do when they finish Year 12. In the words of Sarah Holloway “If you don’t know what you want to do, that’s ok – most of us don’t! The best you can do is to set yourself up as best you can for the future and keep learning and discovering until you find out what it is you love.”
Yes, she is everything. Please meet, Sarah Holloway.
Hey Sarah, can you tell us a bit about where you grew up and how your experience shaped the person you are, and the career that you are in today?
I grew up in Melbourne in the South Eastern suburbs, but both my parents are rural kids so we spent a lot of time in the country as well. I think our country roots gave us very strong family and community foundations and kept us close with nature, when we otherwise could have grown up to be total city slickers.
We travelled a lot as a family from a young age, which was wonderful for opening our eyes to different cultures, experience and horizons. The wanderlust has stayed with me, and my travels have shaped my life more than any of my other experiences. There is nothing quite like seeing how other people live to make you appreciate your own life, but also evaluate and re-assess it.
Where did you go to High School and how was that experience for you?
I started at Shelford Anglican Girls School – a very small private school in Caulfield near our family home. It was such a lovely school and such a tight knit community, which provided wonderful support through the early years of high school. It was very well resourced which also meant there were so many opportunities for extra curricular activities, and there was a strong emphasis on sport and the arts too, which was great.
I then moved into the public system with a much stronger academic focus after I got into Mac.Robertson Girls High School – a selective academic entry school. I don’t think I could have made a bigger jump but I am so grateful to have had two very different school experiences, as I think they both taught me very different things. I had a terrible time adjusting at the beginning, wanting to retreat back to the comfort zone of a school where everyone knew everyone. But once I settled in, I absolutely thrived and it allowed me to extend my learning so much by being in a more academically rigorous environment.
This is what pushed me to get the scores I needed for law, which I probably wouldn’t have done beforehand.
Did your high school play an important role in helping you choose your further education and future career?
Definitely. I had no idea my future career would be what it is now, but it definitely helped me get started on that journey. It helped shape my goals for university and take the steps to get into law, which was the best launching pad I could have had. I wouldn’t have been so academically focused without being totally surrounded by it at Mac.Rob. The school sets a very high bar, and dedicates everything to helping you reach it.
My school experience wasn’t for everybody. You can sometimes get a bit of tunnel vision, thinking that the academic path is everything, but that’s the same of most high school students – you simply don’t appreciate the broadness of your options when you start your working life. Even years after I became a lawyer, I still didn’t quite realise what else was out there. I believe that school set me up so well to start my working life, but the way my career has unravelled since then has been totally different, and the result of many other factors too.
Did you complete any internships or work experience placements in high school? Tell us about that experience.
Yes, I was always very involved in lots of different things. Once I realised I wanted to do law, I did lots of work experience with lawyers during school holidays to get a better insight into the industry. Internships were probably more during university years rather than high school though, just because of the time constraints of school life. My way of getting balance during school was more to participate actively in extracurricular activities to keep a broad skill-set. I did music, sport, dance, two language exchanges, leadership, mentoring etc.
Did you go to College, University, Tafe or another equivalent? Take us through the courses that you studied and why you chose them?
Yes, I went to Monash University and completed Law/Arts (languages). I did Law because I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do but I knew Law would be broadly useful even if I didn’t end up as a lawyer. I knew it would teach me a lot about the world and business and it’s relevant in every country to every person, so I thought it would be a good start. My creative side needed some attention though so I did Arts as well to continue my languages and travel – I did French, Chinese and Japanese at uni and did about four overseas exchanges. It was a great balance doing a double degree to keep different parts of your brain going.
Tell us about your career journey so far. Who you have worked for, and explain any highlights.
I got straight into a big commercial law firm straight out of uni, which was a dream. I spent three years there gaining invaluable experience and even got to work in Hong Kong for half a year in global head office. It was such a wonderful launching pad, although I knew it wasn’t going to be forever. as my creative side wasn’t getting any attention. I have since made the jump into the business world, starting Matcha Maiden with my partner and now I have a completely different career!
How did you get into the job that you are in now?
It was a bit of an accident to be honest! The business was born out of our own frustration at a gap in the market. We had both discovered matcha in its traditional context as a tea during our travels in Japan and then in a more adventurous context throughout the USA. I got totally hooked when I was working in Hong Kong and had to give up coffee for health reasons – matcha was a much gentler caffeine source and my saving grace.
When we came home, we couldn’t find a product that suited us – they were all either expensive, inaccessible, ceremonial blends, or much cheaper but not very high quality, or mixed with sweeteners. So we set about filling that gap in the market as well as creating an excuse to spend more time together. We had always wanted to start a business together but perhaps further down the track – this was just a hobby to cut our teeth on. So we got it up and running when I was still working as a lawyer, and Nic had his own creative agency and had just started a tech venture. But then it blew up and took on a life of its own and it’s been the craziest but most wonderful 18 months since then.
We ended up getting big enough for me to leave my job and step into the business full time. And we recently opened our first physical venue too – Matcha Mylkbar! So my life has taken a very different and sudden turn – just goes to show you never really know what lies ahead.
What is the hardest part of your current job?
I think working for yourself is just incredibly overwhelming since you are doing ALL the roles at once. At the law firm, it was much more simple – still very hard work but you turned up every day and did your work then went home and got paid. As a business owner, you’re responsible for every single department and for keeping yourself afloat. You never have down time and your mind never leaves the business, which can get pretty exhausting. It can also be challenging working with your partner at times (but it’s also the best thing we’ve ever done).
What does a day a typical business day look like for you in your current job?
I’ve gone from a very repetitive and predictably structured life to a life where an “average day” doesn’t really exist. I wouldn’t even know how to describe what I do – it’s such a jumble of everything. I’m still finding the balance between Matcha Maiden, Matcha Mylkbar, Spoonful of Sarah (Sarah’s personal blog) and then the ever elusive “down time”.
There’s a lot of time at the café, a lot of meetings or events for marketing, brand collaborations or other projects, not as much computer admin time as I would ideally like, and then I try to work in regular exercise and meditation too. I LOVE eating out as we are so spoilt on the Melbourne foodie scene, so there’s usually some kind of breakfast date involved too. Most days are a bit of a blur running from one thing to the next – I’m a helpless “yes person” so run myself a bit thin sometimes – but it’s all just so exciting that nothing feels like work – find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life!
Who has been your hero, or greatest inspiration growing up and why?
My Mum. She has taught me everything I know about anything. She taught me all about trusting your judgment, always staying open minded, being a good person and that everything happens for a reason. Basically, any valuable life lesson I have learnt is from her. Everything she has done to make our lives amazing is my ongoing inspiration and motivator.
What advice would you give girls who are interested in your career?
My best advice is that you don’t have to know where you’re going. I had no idea I would end up here when I was at high school and yet I still did. I did something COMPLETELY different for many years. If you don’t know what you want to do, that’s ok – most of us don’t! The best you can do is to set yourself up as best you can for the future and keep learning and discovering until you find out what it is you love.
Sarah, what are your most valuable resources that you turn to constantly for inspiration?
- Favourite Blogs or Websites: Huffington Post, Sporteluxe, Mind Body Green, Melissa Ambrosini, The Fit Foodie, ohhhh I could go on forever in our industry!
- Name an Instagram Account or Snapchat that you can’t go a day without checking: @matcha_maiden and @matcha_mylkbar haha!!!
- Books: Thrive by Arianna Huffington, Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
- People: Everyone around us! We are surrounded by so many wonderfully talented people. Turning to a like-minded person doing similar work to you is so helpful!