Sarah Holloway: Co-Founder, Matcha Maiden

Meet the yogi, wellness guru and lawyer-turned-entrepreneur with a workout-ready, clean beauty routine and a killer back bend.

The rainbow-coloured latte movement is well and truly upon us; from golden through to unicorn, no average cup of Joe will do. But there’s one hot and brightly coloured beverage that’s captivated more than just our Instagram feeds—and that’s matcha.

Leading the charge in Australia is Melbourne-based yogi, wellness guru and lawyer-turned-entrepreneur, Sarah Holloway, the co-founder of the insta-famous green tea powder, Matcha Maiden. Holloway discovered the antioxidant-powerhouse on the cusp of the wellness boom—and before it became the health scene’s favourite buzz-ingredient—when she was working at her law firm’s Hong Kong office. Unable to drink coffee due to illness (a tough ask for a corporate lawyer), she discovered matcha. “Not only is it a delicious latte alternative but it’s also a decent source of caffeine that is much gentler on the body, avoiding the jitters and ‘crash’ that coffee can sometimes cause.”

Back home in Australia, a hooked Holloway and her equally-hooked partner (now fiancé) Nic Davidson were unable to find an equivalent brew, so they created their own and Matcha Maiden
was born. Within six months the start-up had gone from a side hustle to a full-time gig for Holloway, who quit her job at the law firm to dedicate her time to the pursuit of matcha. Over the last three years, Holloway and Davidson opened their plant-based concept café, Matcha Mylkbar in St. Kilda and their Sydney outpost is expected later this year—matcha has well and truly arrived. “It definitely went through an initial ‘fad’ phase…but I think since green tea and its benefits are so well known, matcha isn’t a huge stretch for people to understand. It doesn’t get lumped in with the ‘weird one-hit wonder’ category like some of the more bizarre superfoods.”

We caught up with Holloway at Happy Melon studio in Melbourne (her second home, after Matcha Mylkbar) to talk about taking a leap of faith, the importance of health and wellness, her clean beauty regime and how to look good while you’re sweating it out.

TMM: Have you always had an interest in health and wellness?
SH: “My very first career was as a dancer, so my familiarity with anatomy, physical conditioning, nutrition and general fitness started early on. When I closed that chapter, I turned to yoga and my interest in wellness continued—it’s also been particularly influenced by my terrible tendency to burn the candle at both ends...until I burn myself out completely. I’ve had a few bouts of glandular fever and adrenal fatigue in my time which necessitated a lot of research into proper nutrition and best health practices as part of my recovery.”

How was the idea for Matcha Maiden originally conceived?
“When I came back from Hong Kong, I was surprised to find that the incredible benefits of matcha were largely undiscovered in Australia. We couldn’t find a readily-available and affordable blend with the same health and wellness benefits I had found in Asia. We decided to source our own matcha directly, but the only suppliers we could find were producing in serious bulk. We decided to sell a small amount just to help us get through the large volume—it hit us quite by accident! Before we knew it, we had bought 10kg and were googling “how to start a tea business. I quit my job at the law firm and it’s been matcha madness ever since.”

The decision to leave the law firm must have been a tough one. What would your advice be to someone wanting to take a leap and pursue their dreams?
“Don’t make the decision prematurely—you don’t need to make the jump right at the beginning. You can keep a foot in both doors while you see how things pan out. Then, I would recommend applying a “once-in-a-lifetime test” which involves listening to your intuition on what you would regret most. Usually, it’s not giving it a go. Having said that leaving your job isn’t always the answer. The real thing we all need in our lives is passion and that may or may not be in our job, just as long as it’s somewhere in our lives.”

Your cafe, Matcha Mylkbar, focuses on plant-based eating. Why are these values important to you and your business?
“Nic and I aren’t fully vegan, but that’s part of the main philosophy behind Matcha Mylkbar. Plant-based eating has extraordinary health and environmental benefits, but it’s often packaged in an inaccessible, intimidating way. We wanted to reframe things and bring the philosophies to the masses.”

From yoga, to boxing, to F45, you’re always on the hunt for a good sweat. Why is working out such an important part of your lifestyle?
“I love exercise because it’s such a mental release. When I gave up professional ballet I was looking for another way to stay limber and turned to yoga. It started off as just a new way to move my body and maintain my flexibility, but I quickly discovered the additional mental and emotional benefits of the practice and it's become one of my main tools for stress management. Lately I’ve also been choosing more high-impact activities that fully distract me from my “to-do list” and allow me to sweat it out mindfully like F45 and boxing. Plus, the endorphins from both are incredible. I’ve not felt this strong in a long time!”

How do you take care of your skin between workouts?
“My favourite skin-care goodies are all natural and toxin free. Since moving into wellness, I have undergone a bit of a ‘natural beauty revolution’. There are just so many great clean skin-care brands. I’ve always been a big fan of Chantecaille, their Vital Essence vitamin c serum makes my skin look amazing, which is good for those no-makeup days at the gym. For cleansing, I really enjoy RMS Beauty Raw Coconut Cream Cleanser and French Girl Cleansing Wash, they gently cleanse my skin and take everything off without that dry, stripping feeling. Another brand that’s very new to me—but that I can’t believe I survived without it—is Tatcha. The Luminous Dewy Skin Mist. I’ve tried my whole life to achieve dewy skin (without a yoga class, that is) and this spray achieves it effortlessly in seconds! Also, really loving their Water Cream. It’s really hydrating and refreshing and actually controls oil throughout the day. I’m also the latest convert to African Botanics Pure Marula Facial Oil. I just feel like it does everything: antioxidants, vitamins, anti-ageing, and it feel incredible on my skin. It’s a miracle worker.”

What is your signature makeup look and are there any tips or tricks you use to achieve it?
“During the day, my look is pretty natural with only a very light base on my face. I love bareMinerals Originals SPF 15 Foundation and HOURGLASS Hidden Corrective Concealer. They give such good coverage and colouring without blocking the pores or creating a look that’s too “artificial.” Because I work out in the middle of the day, I like to keep it quite minimal during the week. I would say I wear a bit more eyeshadow than most, even during the day, to create a bit of depth in my eyelids (given my Asian single-lid almond shaped eyes) but it doesn't look as dramatic as it would on Caucasian eyes. I also use a bit of a bareMinerals Lash Domination Volumising Mascara to create a bit of lash but nothing too dramatic when I'm in daytime mode. I keep the lips nude and love the ILIA Lipstick range as it's quite moisturising and nourishing so my lips don't get chapped. I LOVE looking a bit dewy too, so will often finish off with the Tatcha Luminous Dewy Skin Mist.

“At night or for events I'll amp it up with a smokey eye, some brow work (HOURGLASS Arch Brow Sculpting Pencil is my go-to), a bit of bareMinerals Lash Domination Ink Liner and I’ll use the HOURGLASS Ambient Lighting Palette to shape my face. I still rarely go a coloured lip, so the ILIA Lipsticks in the nude shades are my favourites. I also whip out the RMS Magic Luminizer at night to achieve a more glowy, dressed-up look and to accentuate the cheekbones. And, I won't leave the house without a fragrance, and my flavour of the month is Le Labo's Rose 31 for a fresh and empowering modern take on the traditional rose scent.”

Words by Romy Erdos
Photographed by Bec Howell
Makeup by Clementine Bachet
February 2018


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