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What it REALLY means to run a matcha business in 2024


matcha ceremony, matcha latte, women circle, Mallorca, yoga retreat
one of the first matcha ceremonies I hosted in Mallorca 6 years ago

Where it all began…

 

When I started to offer matcha at sport events, yoga retreats, business meetings and later in my restaurant in Berlin (almost 10 years ago already), it was still pretty much unheard of. Most people had never tried it or if they have had a matcha latte somewhere else before, they didn't really like it (usually because the cafe was using cheap, culinary grade and sweetened matcha powder 🙄). But it was just a matter of time and building trust and relationships to my customers and anyone interested in learning more about this sacred ritual that included education and tastings, for them to fall in love with 😇

At the beginning I was working with one of the first European matcha brands and it was by far the best matcha powder I found after years of research in the US, Australia, Bali and South Africa. When I moved to France, it was the right time to start my own brand - first under my name but last year we changed it to GROUNDED. A name that represents the grounding element of the ritual as well as the process of producing aka grinding the tencha leaves into fine matcha powder.

 

So, how do you actually make a living from selling a product?!

This was from the early days where we shot everything ourselves at home

First of all, you really need to know where your product is coming from, who is producing it, how it is grown and which philosophy / work ethic your partner (in Japan) has and which one YOU want to have!

There are a lot of short cuts that you can take especially now that it is such a hyped product, you can literally just google it and order 50 kg of matcha, put your logo on it and sell it. No knowledge about the product or history required. Bullshit in my opinion but ok, that's a topic for another time.

 

I already knew quite a bit about matcha after drinking it since my mid 20ies but there was so much more that I learned within the first year of my business.

I was introduced by a Japanese woman in a tea shop in New York, I went to tea ceremonies, tastings with farmers and had friends from Japan who provided me with the freshest matcha from Kyoto and heard lots of stories about their family history of matcha tea ceremonies. I loved the history as much as the taste but I knew that was not enough to be successful in what I was doing. Building a brand is so much more than just selling something you like. You have to fall in love with the whole process and understanding what your customers need - and its hardly ever just a new health food trend.

 

And of course you have to be willing to learn and apply some skill sets that in your previous jobs someone else did or you let someone else do it cause you were not good at it or didn't like  (or you didn't like it cause you THOUGHT you were not good at it…). In my case it was sales and finance (who would have thought 😂) Of course the customer relations and creative director part was “my thing” and I was good at it (already in many other jobs before that one) but at that time it was just me and my ex-partner who had a full time job so he mainly took care of accounting, finance and keeping everything in an overview. 

matcha latte, latte art, matcha cafe
The picture is taken by LES BENNIES who are capturing beautiful matcha moments in their favourite coffee shops

How does a “normal” day in the life of a matcha business owner look like?

 

First of all, there are no “normal” days and every day something else is required but obviously after 4 years I can see the pattern and routine better than at the beginning so here is a rough overview:


  • Most important are orders and customer service so checking emails and Grounded Matcha Instagram messages as this is where most people leave comments or ask simple and easy to answer questions like: “how do you get your milk so frothy?” or “where can I find your matcha in *city ?"

  • Packing orders, printing labels and bringing orders to the Post office is now luckily also something I have some support with. As I am travelling a lot and also work as a private chef I don't have much time anymore for these tasks during the week but this took me 4 years to get the budget and find the “right person” for.

  • Inventory of all the matcha powders (7 different kind), washi paper bags, stickers, carton boxes, tape, sample bags, accessories inc whisks and matcha bowls, ordering and then labelling and packing all the bags (we receive the aluminium bags and traditional rice paper bags from Japan, the rest is done in the office).

  • Building and acquiring new partnerships: As we have more and more partners aka cafes, restaurants, patisseries and concept stores selling our matcha, there is a lot of communication and planning going into the distribution


Things that are not on a daily agenda but need to be checked throughout the week / month:


  • planning and organising upcoming events, collaborations and tastings

  • graphic design for special branding

  • photo shoot for content, products or collaborations

  • monthly accounting

  • developing new recipes

  • meeting new clients and training baristas as well as creating the best tools and ceramic bowls together with Barsega Studio & Gallery & Atelier Deux Lunes

  • Affiliate programs and brand deals


matcha cake, matcha dessert
This was by far my favorite collaboration with Bonjour Gateau who created my birthday cake with our matcha!

Vision and goals of Grounded Matcha for 2024

 

At this moment, with all the hype and noise around matcha, the main goal is to stay true to my values, my philosophy of providing quality matcha powder and nurture all the partnerships and collaborations for the past years and new ones to come. They truly are an extension of my brand!

I also love to share my knowledge, love and passion for matcha and invite people into my little world through tastings, ceremonies, events and collaborations.

Pilates, Yoga, Surfing, Art, Ceramics, Health, Culinary Arts and Travelling are the main categories that I want to grow and built together with Grounded.

I am also working on a very tasty product 🤤 that will hopefully launch by the end of the year! This season is all about consistency, providing good service and high quality products, building and preserving trust to my old school and new customers and hopefully inspiring many more people to introduce a matcha morning ritual into their lives.

 

I am very grateful for this journey and that I can call this my work! I truly love hot and there is always something new to learn but it does feel good after 4 years to see this baby becoming a little grown up that can stand on its feet more and more! So much wouldn't be possible without many other talented, passionate, committed and loyal people! 


Thank you everyone for being part of it.

I hope to see you at one of the next events, festivals, ceremonies and tastings in person 🥰

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