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Expert Opinion

Why You Don’t Have to Have It All Figured Out: Sarah Davidson Lawyer turned Entrepreneur

October 2, 2019

Words by Ashlee Trout | Image Credit Sarah Holloway

A sound career. A loving partner. A home of your own. Travel. Baby news. It can be difficult to navigate your late twenties and early thirties without the added pressures of society expectations. Throw that in the mix and it can sometimes get overwhelming. It’s important to remember though that these years are a time of discovery – for making mistakes, changing your mind, trying something new.

Take Matcha Maiden and Matcha Mylkbar co-founder Sarah Holloway. Her career didn’t start out as smoothly as you’d expect. Initially, she was a mergers and acquisitions lawyer at a leading international law firm. But it wasn’t long before her creative side screamed for more attention and, together with her partner Nic, started a small health food business, Matcha Maiden. The side project quickly grew into a multi-million dollar global business in a matter of months, paving the way for Holloway to take on the work fulltime.

Shortly after, Holloway and some friends launched trailblazing cafe Matcha Mylkbar. Now, Holloway’s podcast ‘Seize the Yay’ is an investigation into how some of the world’s  most inspiring people find their “yay” whether it’s through work, rest or play. We chat to her about switching careers, being empowered and why it’s okay to not have it all figured out.

HE: As a lawyer turned “funtrepeneur,” what advice would you give someone thinking about switching careers?SH: Firstly, in this incredibly fast-paced day and age, it’s expected that we will havemultiple careers in our lives so if you’re getting a little restless or thinking of making a change, that’s completely normal and not nearly as scary as you think. It’s such an exciting time to be alive in a world where it’s actually possible to create your dream life and to turn your passion into a livelihood. My key tips if you’re thinking about making a career switch would be:

Talk to as many people as you can who have done it before. You’re the sum of the 5 people you spend the most time with, so you need to be surrounded by people who are on board with your decision and who can help shedsome light on what’s to come, what to look out for and even what to avoid.

Have something to jump to. Some people are incredibly unhappy and walk away before they have anything else lined up, but in most cases, I’d recommend exploring your options and maybe starting something as a side hustle first to let you test the waters and build things up so there’s some momentum by the time you jump. That allows you to keep your wage for the bills and for capital to invest in the next step, as well as seeing if it’s really something you want to do.

On the other hand, once you are sure you’re onto a good thing, start before you’re ready. There comes a point where you can’t do both anymore and where you have to make room for a new opportunity or you’ll stay stuck in the old

one. The perfect time probably won’t ever come, so you have to take the moment and make it perfect.

HE: In your Dirty Thirty episode of Seize the Yay you spoke about how being adopted has helped you make the most of every opportunity. Being adopted myself; I feel the same applies – (I call this superhuman drive). What do you think it is about adoption that gives us that empowerment?

SH: YES! I love that!!! I think it’s just having such a strong appreciation of the fact that things could have been so different. It’s hard to understand how lucky we really are to end up in the life we’re living if you haven’t actually had to face how it could have been otherwise. For us, we KNOW there was another option so it’s imprinted in our minds from so early on that we are lucky to be here and to have been given a different pathway to the one we were born into.

HE: What does a typical day look like for you?
SH: There’s no such thing, which I love! It took me a while to adjust to having no real routine, but it keeps things interesting and different. The one thing I do EVERY single day is take myself out for breakfast. As indulgent as it sounds, I don’t really buy many clothes, bags or shoes and I don’t drink so I figured I’ve saved money there that I can allocate to my breakfast dates. Nothing starts my day better than a big, delicious breakfast in a bustling environment – it just starts me off fuelled up well and in a positive mindset. I do all my emails there, before I go and face the world so I know what the landscape looks like and can then go on to whatever’s next.

Then the day could be filled with meetings or podcast recordings or time at the café or organising events or visiting the warehouse or dealing with customs or even just sitting at the computer to knock over some of the behind the scenes admin. I try to move my body during the day and do a run or a workout a few times a week. I also meditate twice a day and unwind at the end of every day with some trashy, crime shows on Netflix with Nic and Paul (our Golden retriever)! I can’t always control the bulk of the day but the start and the end are my little routines.

HE: Diving head first into your career can often come with deadlines, early mornings, late nights and limited social life. What advice do you give to prevent adrenal fatigue or burnout?

SH: Oh, I am probably not the right person to answer that question haha. I’m definitely still a work in progress!!!! But my best advice is to build in rest and down time before you need it, because by then it’s usually too late. Staying energetic and healthy is a long term thing, not a quick fix so smaller, more regular breaks are going to be way more effective than crashing and burning then taking a few days off then coming back. There’s absolutely no point going at 110% for a few weeks if you then conk out and spend the next week or so at 0%. It’s better to pace yourself at 80% and leave 20% for rest, so you can last the distance! And that also keeps your ideas fresh and your motivation high too.  

When you allow yourself rest and space, you get perspective and new ideas plus it gives you time to have revelations or re-assess your direction. I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to manage your rest and play – you find you get the same amount done anyway if not MORE when you build this in.

HE: As a hard-working businesswoman, how do you still make time for the important things like travel and date nights?

SH: I didn’t for the first few years and we definitely suffered for it. Now, the best way we’ve found is to literally pop things like this in the calendar the same way we would a meeting so psychologically we’re treating it as being of the same level of importance. If you block things out like that, it’s harder to cancel or forget them. We plan ahead and sit down regularly to compare our calendars and make sure there’s time factored in every few weeks for a little adventure or something completely away from work.

HE: Why do you think there is so much pressure to get married, have a family and mortgage all by thirty?

SH: I think it’s just a weird societal hangover from different times. There’s so much “should” in our society, and I think it’s just something we’ve absorbed and have learnt to expect at around the 30 marker. A generation ago, it was probably more relevant, but now all that stuff is generally more delayed as we pack so much more into our lives and take a little longer to settle down.

HE: Many people in their twenties still don’t know what they want to do when they ‘grow up’. What advice do you give to them?

SH: Most people don’t!!! So it’s completely normal and absolutely okay. You don’t NEED to know where you’re going to end up, it’s so much more fulfilling when you let go of needing that certainty. It’s great to have a plan of course, but you don’t need to know the answer because each step along the way will help reveal a piece of the puzzle and the place you ultimately end up might be somewhere that doesn’t even exist yet. Keeping an open mind is how the BEST opportunities can find you.

HE: When starting out, is there anything you wish you’d done differently?

SH: Not at all. I would say that I wish I paced myself better, but I think every mistake you make is to teach you a lesson you need later. Everything happens for a reason and every experience is either a success or a learning opportunity – there’s no failure.

HE: The idea of “having it all” varies for each person. What does it mean for you?

SH: For me, it’s all about the people around me. I have it all because I have people around me who I adore and who bring so much joy and excitement to my life AND a lifestyle that allows me to spend time with them.

For more visit: @spoonful_of_sarah, @seize_the_yay & @matcha_maiden

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1 Comment

  • Avatar
    Reply Amy stuart July 15, 2019 at 10:59 am

    This is amazing! Really good read. So true re: societies expectations that are old fashioned and redundant. very thankful that I moved to a city (Melbourne) where majority of young people in their 20’s go out and achieve so many amazing things and don’t feel the need to conform with expectations that applied to previous generations.

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