A conversation with Chief Matcha Officer, Hannah Habes, Founder of MATCHAFUL.

Photography: courtesy of MATCHAFUL

WORDS: Hannah Habes, Nazz Ebrahimi

What motivated you to start a business and how did you choose the name of your company?
 Growing up, I was always very entrepreneurial. I had always dreamed of starting a business while I worked in the consumer packaged foods industry, but I was never passionate enough about any type of food. That is, until I first tasted matcha. It was love at first sip. This creamy green tea powder changed my life. It improved my health and mindfulness, and all of the sudden I felt inspired to share matcha with everyone in my community. I remember telling my family ~5-6 years ago that I needed to quit my job to start a matcha company. At the time, I had a full-time job that paid well, with great work-life balance. My mom said to me “Hannah, don’t quit your day job until you know you can make a career out of this.” It was some of the best advice I had received. For the first year of Matchaful, it was my side hustle. I didn’t quit my day job until I had ~15 customers and enough revenue to make a very small living.
 One of the main reasons I drink matcha every day because of the way it makes me feel. When brainstorming names for the company, I wrote down every word to describe the way matcha made me feel. “Healthful, mindful, powerful, peaceful,” were top words that came to mind. Thus “Matchaful” was born.
You recently opened a pop-up in DUMBO in partnership with Brooklyn Roasting Company! What was that process like?
It’s been an incredibly rewarding and challenging experience. I’ve always wanted to open a matcha cafe to provide healthy, organic matcha drinks to people. This pop-up opportunity was the perfect way to test a cafe, get feedback, and build brand awareness, without having to sign a 10-year lease.
How can future business owners create a business that ''gives back’’ both to our earth, and philanthropically.
It’s important for business owners to understand every element of their business - from the manufacturing procedures to the packaging components. Once you feel like you have a pulse on this, it becomes easier to find ways to decrease your footprint. For us, we wanted to improve our sourcing right off the bat. We decided to work with farms that were not only growing organically, but also using sustainable business practices. We felt it was important to support farms that were supporting the planet. As a small business, you don’t always have the resources or time to develop your own environmental giving program. Last year, we joined 1% to the Planet, an international organization that provides smart giving to environmental non-profits.
How did you find the right tea farm to work with in Japan, and how can future entrepreneurs go about creating those relationships?
We found our current farm through passion and determination. After growing tired of the large matcha tea makers controlling all of the supply in the US, we started going to industry tea expos, Japanese tea fairs, connected with brokers, etc. to find a farm that aligned with our values. We now have a direct-trade relationship with this farm which feels like a huge accomplishment! I recommend future entrepreneurs to attend industry expos and trade shows as much as possible! There’s likely someone there who can be a great resource or help answer questions.  
What are the challenges and rewards of being a CEO?
Biggest challenges right now are lack of time and money. I have continued to bootstrap the company so every dollar we spend is critical to growing the business. While each day brings challenges, and it completely consumes your personal life, I’ve never felt more fulfilled. I truly love what I do. And the people on my team are constantly inspiring me. I absolutely love having a team of badass women that work super hard to grow this business every day.

"I absolutely love having a team of badass women that work super hard to grow this business every day."

-Hannah Habes, Founder            Matchaful

Can you name a few CEOs and brands in your industry you're a fan of/admire?
I’m a big fan of Scott Linde founder of Sun Potion brand and Elizabeth Stein founder of Purely Elizabeth. They’ve both been able to build wildly passionate communities, and they’re committed to improving our health and wellness.
Fear can stop us from achieving necessary goals for growth. How have you managed to take risks in your life as well as business, that allowed you to overcome the fear of failure?
To be honest, failure isn’t an option for me. I don’t let fear of failure creep into my mindset because it only creates self-doubt. In my opinion, not taking risks is the riskiest thing you can do as an entrepreneur. Being able to take risks is one of the most defining traits of successful entrepreneurs.
What's next for MATCHAFUL?
More pop-ups, more direct-trade farms, and more sustainability! Follow us at @matchaful to be apart of our journey!

         HAPPY EARTH DAY 2018!








Photography: Vlasta Pilot

WORDS: Caron Proschan, Nazz Ebrahimi

What motivated you to start a business and how did you choose the name of your company?
I was motivated to start Simply Gum after I learned that regular gum is filled with artificial substances, such as plastic and aspartame. And it turns out that many of these ingredients are hidden in the term “gum base” on the label. As a consumer, that really upset me. I looked for a natural alternative, but unfortunately, I couldn’t find one. That’s when I decided I would do it myself. I chose the name “Simply Gum” because we only use a few simple ingredients!
Who are your ideal customers?
Our goal is to be a better alternative to conventional gum. People are drawn to us for our natural, quality ingredients and our beautiful packaging.
How many retailers can Simply Gum be found in? Any advice on getting your product in front of retailers?
We’re sold at over 5,000 stores and our retailers include Whole Foods, Urban Outfitters, and Vitamin Shoppe. When we look for retailers, we are less concerned with what category they are in, and more focused on whether they align with us in terms of values, aesthetics, and customer base. What we’re seeing is that savvy retailers understand that consumers are demanding natural, better for you products, and they want to curate interesting and unexpected items for their customers to discover.
What was the packaging process like in terms of design? Can you share with us how you chose to use biodegradable packaging?
Regular gum is made of a plastic base, which means that’s not biodegradable. Since we only use natural ingredients, our gum is biodegradable and we designed our packaging to match that. In terms of disposing our gum, we do recommend spitting it out when you are finished, and so we offer “post chew wraps” in each box. These are little wrapping papers that are tucked into the back of the package for quick and clean disposal when you’re done chewing. People love them. Because how many times have you been in a situation where you need to dispose your gum but can’t find a napkin? Our post chew wraps solve that problem!
How can future business owners create a business that ''gives back’’?
Create a product that empowers consumers to make more sustainable choices.
How do you feel one should approach potential investors, or ask for funds?
Once you have a viable product to work with, get it out there. Network, cold email, be confident. And listen to feedback. Sometimes people who don't invest end up giving really valuable feedback that can help you improve your ideas.
Advice on standing out in a crowd and maintaining a competitive edge?
Be innovative and be a leader. We strive to be a leader in the category in terms of product innovation. It means we take more risks, but it's worth it. 
What are the challenges and rewards of being a female CEO?
I think that being a CEO, regardless of whether you are male or female, has challenges and rewards. It's obviously very stressful, but it's incredibly rewarding to grow a company, both in terms of providing opportunities for your employees as well as offering customers something that they really love. 
What kinds of products do you see Simply Gum launching next, or in the near future?
We’re working on a few brand collaborations that we’re really excited about. Stay tuned!
What are the most important characteristics you look for in employees?
I look for employees who are smart, creative, and passionate about our product.
Fear can stop us from achieving necessary goals for growth. How have you managed to take risks in your life as well as business, that allowed you to overcome the fear of failure?
Risk taking is scary, but it's absolutely necessary if you're going to start a company. Someone gave me great advice once - "Start a company. If you fail, start another one." There's no reason to fear failure. If you fail, learn from your mistakes and try again. 
How can future entrepreneurs get their products sold on a nationwide/global scale?
Create a product that people love. If you have something that customers want, retailers will want to carry your product.
Which countries besides the U.S can Simply Gum be found in?
We’re available in the U.S. and you can also find us in select locations in Canada, South Korea, and France.
Best lesson you've learned in business:
The one piece of advice I give to young entrepreneurs is don’t worry about raising millions of dollars. There are lots of inexpensive ways to test your product and you will learn what customers like, how to tweak things, and how to iterate. Just start! 











Photography: GREY & ELLE

WORDS: Livio Bisterzo, Nazz Ebrahimi

What motivated you to start a business and how did you choose the name of your company?
Having worked across personal care and beverage, I knew we could create something unique for consumers with plant proteins. The legume is hot right now and it just felt like the right time to bring chickpeas to the market in a modern way. I was in an innovation food lab and saw some really innovative snack possibilities made from chickpeas. From that moment on, I decided that was the path we should go down. We wanted to do something with chickpeas but chickpeas sound a little bit awkward. We were in a brainstorm and I saw “hip” on top of “peas” on the whiteboard, I thought, let’s merge them together. And that’s how HIPPEAS came to be.
Who are your ideal customers?
Modern hippies, of course. The men & women who live for the now, who want goodness for mind, body and soil and rally behind those who want the same.
How many retailers can HIPPEAS be found in?
You can now find HIPPEAS in over 20,000 stores in the US and UK with retailers including Starbucks, Whole Foods, Wegmans, Albertson's, Safeway, Boots, Waitrose,, and more.
Any advice on how to get your product in front of retailers? 

Pick up the phone. People these days don’t put enough value on conversation and face-to-face interaction. Network, call around and figure out how to get in front of people.

If you are not a "people person", but have great ideas, can you still run a business?
No. I truly believe building a brand is all about people. You build it for people and you build it with people. It’s the most important thing about your brand.

You are big on brands who are creating a story and connecting with consumers. How has your Chief Marketing Officer, Olly Horner, helped execute that? 
We shared a vision, and we built a culture. He helped bring our ideas to life and I owe him a lot for that.
What are the top most important characteristics you look for in employees?
Entrepreneurial, experienced, creative problem solver, and adaptable. Since we are a fast-paced start-up, no two days are the same!
Can you share with us a little about your exciting drink venture, Ugly Drinks? 

Ugly is launching in the US later this year. It’s going to bring a craft beer attitude to a boring seltzer category. So get ready to…

Get Real. Get Ugly.

Do you feel there are flavor profiles that work for Europeans, but may not work with American consumers due to cultural differences? 
No, I feel both markets are starting to adapt and become more similar. There are absolutely cultural differences, but when you have a good product, you can win globally.  
How can entrepreneurs create a business that 'gives back'?
Find a cause you’re passionate about and find a way to contribute. It’s the most meaningful way to do it.
What's next for HIPPEAS? 
 Global domination! We think HIPPEAS will become a household brand in the states.