Introducing funtrepreneur, Sarah Holloway!
For anyone who has met Sarah, follows her on social media, listens to her podcast or has heard her speak at events- you’ll know that she’s a kind-hearted, down-to-earth, fun-loving, pun-adoring person. Her smile is infectious and her outlook on life is refreshing. She has so much knowledge and wisdom to share and I love her life philosophy- ‘seize the yay’. She’s a former lawyer turned funtreprenuer, a self-confessed rambler and like many, she’s guilty of taking her phone to the toilet when she doesn’t want to break her focus!
She has so much to share! You’re going to love it and probably have a laugh or two along the way.
Welcome Sarah! Let’s get started. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I wouldn’t say I’m the best candidate for a “short bio” because I’m not only a serial rambler but also an overenthusiastic life lover with too many interests, passions, career changes, personal transformations, lifestyle revelations, adventures, hopes and dreams for one single lifetime. I nonetheless do my very best to squeeze in as much goal-kicking, ground-breaking and memory-making as life permits and I’d say I’m best summed up by my overarching life philosophy – ‘seize the yay’.
I’m a big fan of puns, almost as much as I love motivational quotes – there’s something about their simplicity and succinctness that really drills a message home (pushing through my otherwise rather short attention span, terrible short-term memory and endlessly overactive brain). So, this creative play on ‘seize the day’ and living a ‘yay all day’ life was the perfect fusion of my belief in taking every opportunity and getting the most of life, on the one hand, and finding your happiest you so you can live your happiest life, on the other hand.
As for my journey, I started my professional life as a mergers and acquisitions lawyer at a leading international law firm. I enjoyed several years of invaluable learning, development and even exciting travel opportunities and quite enjoyed pretending my life was as glamorous and high-flying as lawyer life appears in Suits. However, I knew early on that the corporate life didn’t light my fire and wouldn’t be a long-lasting career for me. While my inner geek adored the intellectual gymnastics, the profession and its lifestyle wasn’t easily reconciled with my personal passions for health, wellbeing, nutrition (I’m a fanatical foodie) and creativity.
My chance to “make the jump” popped up sooner than I had imagined, when the “side project” that my partner Nic and I had started as a creative outlet grew itself into a booming business. Out of our own personal frustrations at a gap in the market, we founded organic matcha green tea company, Matcha Maiden, in late 2014. Within six months, we had grown big enough to draw attention from giant US retailer, Urban Outfitters, who placed a recurring order that could only be fulfilled if one of us went full time. I’m a big fan of trusting the universe and, as terrifying as it was, I made the jump into the business that day and we’ve never looked back.
Two years later, our beautiful matcha family is still going strong and has taken on a physical embodiment in our trailblazing café, Matcha Mylkbar, co-founded with dear friends, Mark and Attil Filippelli. If you’ve seen any crazy green burgers and blue lattes flooding your social media feeds, that was us! While Spoonful of Sarah initially started out as a personal page (mostly dedicated to my all-too-regular foodie adventures), my shift into the entrepreneurial world was accompanied by some happily accidental profile building, so Spoonful is also now “a thing”. This has added speaking gigs, guest articles, content creation, consulting, and more food frolicking to my repertoire and I wake up every single day pinching myself that this is all real life.
Spoonful of Sarah is now my forum to talk about our entrepreneurial journey from a distance and bang on about how exciting life can be when you grab it by the balls. I have never been happier and never even knew life could be so fulfilling and the scariest part is that I wasn’t even unhappy before. So many of us live without questioning whether we could live better, but life is too short not to enjoy to the fullest. Spoonful is my way to share parts of my journey towards realising my greater potential and hopefully, even if only in the smallest way, to help you do the same.
How did you find your life purpose and what advice would you give us?
Such a toughie! But I think the key for me was not to look too hard for it. If you’re searching too hard for your purpose and waiting until everything “feels perfect”, it might not ever arrive for you. It may look sometimes like people go from unhappy in one thing to fulfilled in another, but it’s a very gradual process that happens in baby steps. We have crazy expectations of how fast things should happen today and also of how engaged and fulfilled we should be on a day to day basis, which sets a lot of people up for unhappiness. Sometimes, by just being open-minded to new opportunities and not being too attached to security, routine or comfort, your purpose will find you. For example, I knew I wasn’t going to be in law forever and that it wasn’t my greater mission in life but for the first three years I had no idea what I’d do instead. I had to sit with that knowledge but also deal with the realities of having bills and needs and also no other plan! And then, when the time was right and I was ready, I stumbled across something that made me happy and the business aspect of it came second. And that happened because I was openly looking around for new pathways but not jumping to leave my job or anything too quickly. So venture out of your comfort zone regularly and try new things – the only way you’ll know what you’re meant to do is by finding out what you’re not meant to and experimenting.
Then, once you have a better idea, my next best advice is to go for it. Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will. We live in a world where we CAN make changes that end up seeming relatively quick and turning our lives around for the better. It’s not a major recession, depression or GFC and within sensible limits, you can really do anything these days – business and influence have been democratised by the internet and social media. It’s such an exciting time to be around! If you have found what you love, have the courage to pursue it and you’ll be rewarded! I could write for ages on this one but I’ll spare you the essay!
What are the top 3 things you love about life as a funtrepreneur?
1. The flexibility and limitless possibilities – I love the fact that you can pretty run with any idea you have without having to run it by 100 people first. You can really achieve anything your brain can conceive of.
2. The people – you get to meet so many interesting people from such diverse backgrounds, which is the absolute best way to learn and develop yourself. Unlike many careers that kind of pigeon hole you with a similar bunch of people, in business no two entrepreneurs are the same so there’s always someone different and exciting to learn from or work with.
3. The challenge – you can NEVER get bored and you’ll never have learnt everything you can. There’s always something new you can do with your business and it’s impossible to plateau. I love a good challenge, so it’s such a great place for a curious mind!
What are the biggest challenges you’ve come across over the years?
Burning out! It’s all so exciting and every part of your labour has a direct positive result in the business so there’s very little incentive to rest. I’ve found it very difficult to pace myself and not go too hard, too fast with my ideas. It’s easier and easier to say no to the things you don’t want to do, but it’s SO hard to say no to things you DO want to do when you know it just won’t fit anywhere in your schedule.
Has your idea of success changed over the years? If so, how?
I don’t think it’s changed enormously, although it has changed industries of course. Even when I was a corporate lawyer I still never really defined success in terms of money, promotions or what other people thought. I was always quite informed by how I felt in terms of my own learning or my own impact on others, and that’s remained the same even with a big change in environment. I have definitely let go of searching for “milestones” like industry awards or recognition because in business, unlike corporate, there aren’t really signposts of success along the way and everyone’s running such a different race. I still just go by whether I’ve met my own personal goals rather than what others think is successful or important and they’re very rarely associated with numbers or money (although they probably should be a little more) and more about mastering a skill or achieving a goal.
Has doubt ever held you back from doing something you wanted to do?
It has DEFINITELY made taking certain steps in my life more difficult, but I learnt pretty early on not to let it control me. Doubt affects us all and I’ve learnt to acknowledge it as a healthy sign that you care about what you’re about to do. The important thing is not to let it dictate your decision, you simply acknowledge it then move on. Once you understand doubt as a natural self-protection mechanism, you can learn to push it away and move on. I think also as you get older you stop caring so much about what others think so failure isn’t that scary any more and there’s no reason not to just push through the doubt and give something a go.
Tell us about your podcast ‘Seize the Yay’. I love it and usually finish listening to it on the day you release it! It feels like I’m in the same room as you and your guests and always makes me smile.
Oh that’s so kind of you, thank you so much! I’m so glad you feel that way, I really wanted it to feel that way to listeners to reveal a really relaxed, human side of all our guests that you don’t always get to see. Like many things I do, it was a SUPER random idea that I gave myself all of 30 seconds to think about before I just went, “f*** it let’s do it”. It’s now been four years on the matcha mission and I think I’ve been searching for a while for a new challenge. I’ve also realised that speaking about the journey, self-doubt and confidence is what REALLY lights my fire so have been trying to find a way to incorporate more of that into my life. We’ve built a fabulous network of incredible people along the way and I wanted to tap into that more and share some of the hilarious chats we have when people have their guard down, so a podcast seemed like an amazing way to do that. I had NO idea what they involved or how to edit audio or interview people or anything but I LOVE starting brand new skills and learning new things so it’s been an absolutely incredible experience so far on so many levels.
How do you bring the most ‘yay’ into your days?
So many ways! My quote of the day segment is hugely satisfying for me as it forces me to spend at least 10 minutes a day finding something that brings happiness. I know I can find my ‘yay’ a lot more too when I have time in between each activity or meeting to re-group rather than rushing between things like I used to, so learning to schedule my week more effectively has helped enormously too. Making sure I take breaks and spend time with Nic, family, friends and my dog throughout the week also brings so much joy into the working week. There are so many small things you can do if you just pay attention to what lights you up and make sure you get enough of it!
What do you do on days when it’s hard to find your ‘yay’?
I don’t try to push through it. Sometimes your body is trying to tell you something and you need to listen to it. I’ll generally just go easy on those days and maybe try to re-schedule things I don’t feel up to so I don’t let myself down by not being my best self. I’ll go for a long walk with the dog to help clear the head and make sure to meditate or have a bath or do things that are known to promote wellbeing. I often indulge in some TV on those days to force myself to let my brain rest and forget about work. I guess I just do whatever my body feels like on those days – if I sometimes disconnect from what it needs, on those days I tune in again and only do what feels okay. If I want to see happy uplifting friends, I do. If I need exercise, I’ll do it. If I need a nap, I’ll do that. Rather than just pushing on with what I’ve organised when I was feeling much more energetic.
As you ask all of your guests on your podcast, what’s the most down to earth thing about you?
Oh, there are SO many things, I’m the biggest goober in town. I take my phone to the toilet with me when I’m on a roll and don’t want to break my focus. I sleep with my mouth open like a fish, even on planes. I thought ponies were baby horses for YEARS until I realised they’re just small breeds of horses…. SO many to choose from!
What do you do to prioritise yourself and your health each day?
I haven’t always been good at this, but I’m getting much better lately. I meditate twice daily which is a big commitment but absolutely game-changing. My big guilty pleasure is that I take myself out for breakfast EVERY day even though I could make it at home and save a heap of money. I LOVE cafes and it gets me out of the house and I can conquer my emails in peace before starting the day plus I fuel up with a huge healthy breakfast. I don’t spend money on clothes or alcohol or anything so I see it as a big investment in my happiness and productivity. I exercise hard three times a week (that’s my goal at least) and make time for walks with the dog on other days – I’ve had to literally book exercise time into my calendar like a meeting to make sure I treat it with the same seriousness and it’s finally catching on. I’m TRYING to get more sleep too and set up better sleeping habits. I also eat very well – flexibly, but well – to give my body the best fuel I can.
When do you feel like the truest version of yourself?
When I’ve had enough sleep. As soon as I’m sleep deprived, all my motivation, clarity and bubbliness start to fade and I can tell I’m not myself.
Who inspires you the most in your personal and/or professional life?
Everyone! I don’t really have singular idols but draw inspiration from different people for different reasons and traits. People who have strong boundaries are my current idols as I love when people are confident enough in their value to demand what makes them feel best.
I know this might be a challenge but what are your top 3 motivational quotes?
ARGHHHHHHHHHH so hard!!!!!
1. Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.
2. People won’t remember what you do or say, they’ll always remember how you made them feel.
3. You can do anything but not everything.
1. What’s your favourite way to move your body? I’m such a phase person – I go through phases for months at a time and then will randomly change up completely. At the moment, it’s weights training. But my one consistent love is just walking the dog.
2. What’s your go-to meal? Eggs with avocado, mushrooms and goats cheese.
3. What’s the first thing you do each morning? Meditate.
4. What are 3 things you couldn’t go a day without? A cup of tea, my laptop, puppy cuddles.
5. To be healthy and live a healthy life is to…. know what makes you feel good and do more of it.
To follow along and see what Sarah and her Matcha babies are up to click on the links below!
Isn’t Sarah amazing?! I love how she says it how it is and embraces all that she is. Stay tuned for Sarah’s next feature where she’ll be openly chatting about her experience with anxiety over the years. If you haven’t already, you can join my mailing list here to have it sent straight to your inbox! I’ve also spoken about my anxiety including my symptoms, triggers and management tips on my blog ‘Living with Anxiety’ which you can read here.