Who are you and what business did you start?
My name is Erin and I am the owner of Matcha Yu Tea, an e-commerce business offering Premium Quality Japanese Green Tea.
What’s your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
Since 13, I’ve studied Japanese at high school. I’ve been fascinated (some may call it obsessed) with Japanese culture. As I studied the language and learned more about the culture I became more determined to visit Japan as soon as I could. That was 2003 and I was hooked. The place really gets under your skin. From futuristic Tokyo to the ancient temples of Kyoto, the culture is so unique and charming it would be hard to find anyone who hasn’t visited Japan that doesn’t feel compelled to return. And return is what I did, several times over the last 20 years!
I was lucky enough to live in Kyoto for 6 months back in 2010 and from that time, became aware of Matcha and the role it played in Japanese culture. I taught English and met a lady who came from a tea growing family. In fact her father had won over 20 awards from the Emperor of Japan for the high quality of tea he grows. She prepared Matcha for me and after this experience I felt a strong urge to tell her family’s story and offer their tea for sale once i returned to Australia so others could experience high quality tea too. I did have plans to open a Japanese desserts cafe but shelved that idea when I felt the market was not yet ready or well aware of Matcha. Flash forward a few years and I decided to launch Matcha Yu Tea as I saw other Matcha brands in the market offering sub standard quality tea. I wanted to really ensure people experienced the authentic taste of Japan just like I did all those years ago.
Describe the process of launching the business.
I ran a Pozible Crowd Funding Campaign to test the waters and see what interest there would be in the market for high quality tea first before diving straight in and starting the business. I was happy to find my Pozible campaign was successful and allowed me to take pre-orders plus have some funds left over to set up the business. It was rewarding to feel that my idea to bring authentic Matcha to Australia was a valid one and had legs.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Prior to the Covid-19 Pandemic, I attended several events that were a great way of growing the brand and reaching new customers. These ranged from Japan Festivals, Wellness markets and the Melbourne Tea Festival. This is where my target market hang out so it was so good to speak face to face to potential customers and allow them to try my tea too. I’ve been consistently on Google and Facebook ads and once on my mailing list, I regularly send out newsletters with tips, education, recipes and offers. I find once our customers try our tea they are thrilled with the quality so keep coming back for more as well as telling others about it. I am also focusing on growing my profile on social media, particularly Instagram reels as they seem to be a great way of attracting new followers.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
The business is growing steadily and I’m thrilled with its progress. I am still doing everything myself without outsourcing but realise if I want to grow, I will have to look at other options such as someone else packing my tea and sending out orders. I want to be known as the leading brand for great quality Matcha in Australia and globally one of the very few brands available in 100% home compostable eco packaging.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
That personal touch, whether it be a handwritten note, a personalised email or face to face contact speaks far greater than any other fancy marketing tools used. People like to support businesses that make them feel good and treat them with care. I will continue that type of service as much as I can moving forward as those dedicated customers make you keep going and doing what you do.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
Shopify – website, Asana – Organisation, Klaviyo – E-marketing, Plann that – Social Media Management, Canva – Graphic Design, Sendle – postage
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
Catherine Langman – Productpreneur Podcast and Rockstar Productpreneur FB group. Emma Isaac (Business Chicks) books, Lisa Messenger books, Denise Duffield Thomas Books
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Invest in learning how to do things yourself. I did the Productpreneur Website Formula Course (Catherine Langman), Online Store Success (Jodie Minto), a couple of Reels Courses, Google Ads Bootcamp (Katy Griffin) and more. Keep learning to make sure you’re up to date and always moving forward and improving. If you have an idea that you’re unsure if it will turn into a viable business, a crowd funding campaign is a great way to test the waters. Also Mindset is so key – surround yourself with those who support your dreams and find other business people who will help you feel supported too