Behind the Business
In our Behind the Business series, we interview entrepreneurs from all over the world. From copywriting freelancers to the founder of the new Facebook, we’ll talk to them all.
In this week’s article, we are interviewing Christelle Vinot who is the founder and CEO of Hearthy Matcha. See how Christelle is expanding her start-up while addressing the challenges of an early-stage e-commerce business.
Story of Hearthy Matcha
Who are you?
Hello, I’m Christelle Vinot, a French citizen living in the city of London. I currently work as a sales engineer for an American tech company. My life took an exciting turn when in 2020, I decided to create my own company to focus on the next part of my journey. After 2 attempts to become an entrepreneur, I found my own way with Hearthy Matcha.
Great! So what is Hearthy Matcha?
Hearthy Matcha focuses on selling high-quality and GMO-Free Matcha green tea cultivated and harvested in Japan.
Matcha Tea is still relatively unknown in western countries, but essentially it is dried green tea leaves steamed, dried, and ground into fine powder. When you drink Matcha you are effectively consuming the entire leaf and all its healthy nutrients. Matcha comes with a rather unique history. It used to be consumed by the Japanese monks 800 years ago to help them focus during their enlightenments session. It was also known for being a powerful antioxidant and energy booster, due to its content of L-theanine and caffeine. Today, Matcha has made its way to the western world and is consumed for its number of healthy benefits. I personally drink Matcha almost on a daily basis and can definitely endorse its positive impact.
Wow, I did not know that. Who is your target audience, who are avid matcha tea drinkers?
My customers are typically people on the look for a healthier lifestyle. Athletes, vegan, into yoga, and mindful of their lifestyle and its impact on their mental health. They are curious and keen to revisit their diet to improve their health and help them be the best version of themselves.
Hearthy Matcha isn’t only focusing on selling Matcha, we are also a tea ware house and serial tree planters. We want to develop a sustainable lifestyle through our brand. For every Matcha purchased, a tree is planted to offset its CO2 emission. I really believe in giving back to mother nature for everything that was taken from her.
Let’s go back to how it all began
Those are amazing values to base your company on. So how did you start your business?
Hearthy Matcha was my 3rd attempt at running my own company. I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur, but it took me some time before I found what would wake me up in the morning. My first 2 attempts weren’t related to things I was passionate about; I guess that is why it never worked. Every obstacle would turn into the most painful step I’d have to overcome.
The idea of selling Matcha tea had occurred to me on several occasions, however my previous failures were still too close for me to step forward, plus, I have a demanding full time job. In December 2019, I heard about a lady working for a startup in healthcare , with a busy lifestyle, who was also running a candle company and going through busy Christmas. I immediately felt inspired by this lady and her ability to combine 2 busy activities. I was amazed by her resilience and commitment to work that hard. Owing to my new-found inspiration, I started contacting Matcha manufacturers straight away. I knew that Hearthy Matcha would be my next venture and it would be a successful one.
That’s a great origin story Christelle. So were you employed before becoming an entrepreneur?
I was and am still employed. Hearthy Matcha is too young for me to sustain on its own and the journey is still at its beginning. Also I have plans to be more active in building awareness on climate change so stay tuned :). My current day job allows me to support my activities and I believe it will take time before I can replace my current income with Hearthy Matcha.
Life Lessons and Future Plans
You indicated you’ve had 2 startups in the past. I’m sure there are some lessons there or in your current company that you learnt. Did you fuck up really bad at some point? Or in other words, do you have a good lesson you could share with other starting entrepreneurs?
Oh yes, it’s part of the process of becoming an entrepreneur. We have to make mistakes to learn, but personally, I find it fantastic how much I get to learn about myself when I face challenges and successes. So one of the biggest mistakes I made was to be too keen to see results at early stages. As an example, I remember importing a batch of organic matcha from Japan before receiving my official license to import organic products. I thought I was being proactive and followed the rules, but it was the complete opposite and I ended up with a batch of unsellable products .. However, I could give them away for free, so I used them as part of my marketing budget. I offered samples to several social media influencers who in return built awareness for my brand. That helped, luckily.
Overall though, I seriously messed up for not thoroughly reading my contract with the UK body of control that oversaw organic products in the UK. I was simply too keen to get my products on the market. But hey, there is always a way out – even when we face the most challenging situations.
Great story, thanks for sharing Christelle. Seeing these mistakes, which entrepreneur or mentor did you learn the most from?
I have learnt a lot from the mastermind group at Enter Network. We have some great meaningful discussions and I also have buddies . They have deep expertise with online businesses and own their own companies. It is great to hear from their experiences, which definitely helps me to avoid making some mistakes like these!
Great! For the last question, where can people easily get in touch with you if they want to get more advice or talk to you about your products?
Sure, I’m always available. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wow, you are indeed on quite a journey. We wish the very best with your endeavours. Thank you so much, Christelle for sharing your experiences with us. If you want to read more articles like these, check out our blog!
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