Since joining forces with Buddha Teas, Janine Marshall continues to roll out MatchaNOW into the UK & Europe market. Despite initial hiccups, the brand hasn’t slowed down, managing to get stocked by Planet Organic and Wholefoods within the first 6 months of launching.
2018 is proving to be yet another successful year for the MatchaNow team with plans to add three new flavours to its collection in time for summer.
Hi Janine, thanks for agreeing to share your story on YHP. Can you give us some background information about yourself?
My passion has always been about incorporating my love of healthy living into my life in any way that I can. My mum has always suffered with depression, with the worst times being throughout my childhood, but she learnt how to manage it by monitoring her lifestyle. Eating clean and exercising were her form of medication and she controls her illness by utilising these tools and I have learnt how to run my life following the same principles.
How did the idea for Matcha Now come about?
While my fiancé and I were still living in California, we met the CEO of Buddha Teas – who is also a very good friend of ours. He is the creator of the MatchaNOW bottle and after he launched it in the states in 2016 I was blown away by the unique concept and how the cap technology stored and preserved the matcha. I am all about ingesting things in their purest form and I loved this approach and there was nothing of its kind on the market in the UK. I decided I had to be involved and so joined forces with Buddha Teas and planned to bring MatchaNOW to the UK & Europe market.
After realising that the UK and US markets differed in their approach to visual concepts, I knew that even though the bottle itself was genius - the design wasn’t going to make its desired impact on the UK. So, I brought on board a UK designer and re-branded. The US liked our new concept so much that they applied the rebrand to the US & Canadian markets too - which we are very proud of!
Tell me about the early days, the type of challenges you initially encountered?
Launching a new brand definitely comes with its challenges! The food industry is inundated with new brands attempting to bring their products to market on a daily basis. Trying to find your place amongst them and be acknowledged by both consumers and buyers certainly takes a lot of work. But lucky for us, our concept was the first ‘twist and shake’ bottle to launch in the UK and so we gained traction from the onset. We were lucky enough to be on the shelves of Planet Organic and Wholefoods within the first 6 months of launching, which was truly a great achievement for us.
What is Matcha Now? And what are you trying to solve with it?
MatchaNOW is an innovative bottle that stores 2.5g of Organic, Ceremonial grade matcha separate from the water element. Matcha will oxidise very rapidly, losing all potency and health benefits once immersed in water for too long - so by keeping it separate we can ensure that all the goodness is preserved until you are ready to drink it.
Matcha takes an awful long time to whisk into water in order to create a smooth drink, and we understand that this isn’t feasible for a lot of people. So, we have the perfect solution for health conscious and busy people, like myself, who want a fresh energy burst with ALL the benefits while they are on-the-go.
How have you been able to fund it so far?
Luckily I had some investment saved from a previous business I ran, which has funded the venture so far.
About the first few months, how excited were you, tell us about how those months felt, what happened?
We officially launched at the Natural Organic Expo, London Excel in March 2017. The interest was truly amazing - we clearly brought something to the market that had not been seen before and that people really felt there was a gap in the market for it. It was a great adrenaline rush to see the excitement build for our product and I remember some of the adjoining stands commenting on how busy we had been with queues of people waiting to see our product. It was super assuring and gave me complete faith that MatchaNOW was going to be a huge hit here.
How did you initially get traction?
We showcased at the NOPE 17 trade show which really catapulted us into the market and gave us the platform we needed to shout about MatchaNOW. From there traction gained with potential stockists and distributors for the following months and is continuing to grow daily.
What are the most crucial things that you have done to grow your business?
I think the message is crucial. My goal is to live a healthy prosperous life and this, in my opinion, derives from how we treat and fuel our bodies and brains. I am so passionate about using food as a natural medicine and Matcha for me is one of life’s’ true gifts to keep us effervescent. I try to convey my message and be as honest and open as I can be about why I am doing what I’m doing. My mum, to this day, is my inspiration.
What would you say has been the highlight of your entrepreneurial journey so far?
Since our launch I have collaborated with some amazing brands and really felt welcomed into the wellness industry as a whole. It’s such a positive world to be part of, with such a supportive network of like-minded entrepreneurs all with a similar ethos; to look after ourselves with honest ingredients that can nurture us. I especially feel honoured to be part of the plant-based movement that is currently evolving.
What should we be expecting from yourself and the Matcha Now team for 2018?
We are very excited to be launching 3 new flavours that should hit the market in time for the summer. We’re working on new collaborations and partnerships, whereby you should start to see MatchaNOW available more nationwide.
Lastly, what three pieces of advice would you offer entrepreneurs starting out today?
• Get yourself a good support network, starting a business alone can feel quite isolating sometimes. At the onset I utilised trusted friends and family to help bounce ideas off with and get fresh opinions and approaches.
• Love what you do, if your passion dies its maybe time for a rethink….
• Don’t give up! Some days will be tough, get used to the no’s but be persistent because as one door closes another one always opens.