Have you ever toyed with the idea of starting a business with your partner? Is it possible to separate work life from relationship life? We sat down with Sarah Holloway, one half of the power house duo behind Matcha Maiden, to find out how her and her partner Nic balance running a business and maintaining a relationship.
Unless you've been living under a rock for the past year (or avoid instagram), you'd have heard about Matcha Maiden. The lovely, local Melbourne company making Matcha (a highly nutritious green tea powder) available at an affordable price across the country and the world. Matcha Maiden was started as a side 'hobby' project by Nic and Sarah. A young couple both working full time jobs who seriously knew how to hustle. A year and a bit later, and Sarah's been able to quit the corporate world to tackle Matcha Maiden full time. Balancing work and life can be hard at the best of times, let alone doing it with your partner! As part of our Valentine's Day special, we spoke with the delightful Sarah to find out what running a business with your partner is really like...
We've actually known each other since almost 15 years ago without even realising it! We recently discovered that we shared a physio in our past lives (Nic as an athlete and myself as a ballerina) and had spent many hours in the same place at the same time - so bizarre! We met again in somewhat less than classy circumstances many years later just out and about on the town, but still didn't have much to do with each other for the first few years as we were never single at the same time. But once it was on, yes it was definitely a match(a) made in heaven. There was never any "dating phase" we just sort of jumped straight into a long-term relationship and have been besties ever since!
Despite the epic lifestyle change since we started working together, we actually haven't had many challenges at all. We are very compatible both personally and professionally, so we haven't had many teething issues (touch wood) and I couldn't think of a better business partner. Because we have completely different skill sets, it's very clear which roles we each play and we don't have a lot of overlap. Obviously we run everything past each other and work closely on everything, but I think having separate "departments" really helps. But we have had a whole different problem in terms of switching off because we love our work and love that it's something we do together. Both of us have incessantly buzzing minds so it's hard not to chat about our ideas and thoughts all through the day (and night). We've started to be stricter and set days of the week and times of the day which are "quarantined" from work chats, otherwise it would just never stop. "Date nights" are a thing now (which I never understood before, isn't every night date night?) and Sundays are our rest days (or best-attempt-to-rest days).
I'm afraid my answer to this will make me seem decades older than I am and far more boring than I like to admit, but I am actually the biggest nana going around these days. My ideal date night involves some kind of movie or TV series in our PJs at home with takeaway and our dog across our laps. We used to love going out and getting a bit wild, but both had a very solid innings before we hung up the dancing shoes. I used to love fancy foodie adventures for date nights, which I still do occasionally, but particularly since the business has ramped up and our days are so intense there is nothing I adore more than just unwinding together at home.
Oooh that's a tough one! We've done over 35 countries together, so I don't know where to even start! I think Paris has to be on the list, we spent 6 months there together a few years back and everything is set up for maximum romance. Southern Italy is also super romantic - I think the most romantic restaurant in the world would have to be La Sponda in Positano. Google it - there are no words. The third place is difficult. It depends what you define as romance. We've done some really rough travel together and that's pretty romantic because it's just the two of you trekking out in the middle of nowhere away from the world. But then there's the honeymoon destination golden sand beaches like Koh Samui and the like... I loved Africa, I thought it was really romantic. Zanzibar was an absolute haven. There are also a few on the to-do list which I'm sure would have made the cut if we had been there. The Maldives is right up top!
We both quite enjoy cooking and used to do it often, but very rarely make time for it these days. It's been a bit of a swinging door too - I'd cook when Nic was crazy at work, and he'd cook when I was on a deal at the law firm doing crazy hours. Now, we really enjoy going out to sit in one of Melbourne's many incredible cafes just soaking up the atmosphere and people watching. I think since we spend a lot of time working from home, we like to get out more and also visit our stockists. We're big breakfast adventurers, but eat dinner at home so I'd say if there's any cooking on the horizon it would be for dinner. And because he's such a good egg, Nic will be doing the cooking (which I will drop on him some time this week haha).
There is nothing more valuable in a relationship than good communication and I think that goes for friendships as well as romantic relationships. In any relationship, whether it is personal or professional, you will always have differences of opinion or values but that only becomes a problem if you cannot communicate effectively to work out a solution. When you're a couple as well as business partners, it is so easy to take liberties with each other that you would never take with a third party business partner. The way you speak to each other is naturally more familiar, less objective and often not particularly professional. If you are a couple who already have strong communication, then the transition to business partners will be much easier as you already have your strategies for working through disagreements, miscommunications etc. But if you frequently have problems discussing things with each other, you definitely need to set some communication boundaries and rules from the start. Make a commitment to always listen to each others' opinions and respond to them as politely you would a stranger. And also communicate your expectations of each other to each other so there are no misunderstandings from the outset. And of course, enjoy it! It's such a wonderful dimension to add to your lives and makes your success so much more rewarding for being shared. Good luck!
You can find out more about Matcha Maiden and their awesome product 'Mix'n Matcha' over on the Matcha Maiden website. If you're the insta stalking type be sure to follow @spoon_full_of_sarah on Instagram and of course, follow @matchamaiden for some serious green food envy!
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