Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Kimmy Xiao, Founder of Whisk Premium Matcha, located in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

We're a Vancouver local premium matcha brand curating the best farm-direct matcha powder from Japan. Our business has 3 major components: online retail, wholesale & a brick & mortar cafe.

Our plant-based matcha cafe is located in the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood serving all things matcha, such as matcha latte & matcha soft serve. Our online retail is more focused on high-end competition grade matcha & high-quality teawares. We currently have over 40 wholesale cafe partners in Canada - we curate the best matcha powder that would suit their needs & budget and foster a collaborative relationship.

Tell us about yourself

My dad used to work in Japan when I was a child, so I frequently traveled to Japan at a younger age. I think that planted a seed in me. My background is in Hospitality Management, so I worked in luxury hotels after graduation starting from serving, the front desk to catering sales and administration. The experiences help me develop a strong sense and standard for customer service and professionalism. I'm a mom of two, ages 7 & 14. After giving birth to my 2nd child, I decided to start my own business. As a self-diagnosed matcha addict, it's not difficult for me to start a business sharing my passion. I did return to the hotel job part-time while growing my brand until, one day, I decided to devote my time to this business. Hearing customers say how much they love our matcha really keeps me going every day. I have the best customers; they're so supportive, generous, understanding, and appreciative. In return, we want to make sure that they're taken care of and do better at what we do every day.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Opening a cafe is no easy step, and I think this is by far my biggest accomplishment. Thanks to my baking partner Monica at Level V Bakery, she really pushed this idea through. Since day one of starting the biz, I wanted to open a cafe, but due to a lack of courage and funding, I geared the business to an online platform instead. I started doing a matcha pop-up cafe in 2019 while Monica was also looking for a permanent location for her bakery. One day we saw a space in Mount Pleasant and felt like, "this is the one"! It's been a pretty steady cafe despite a global pandemic, thanks to our amazing customers!

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Bringing up kids while growing a business has been my top struggle. I always joked that my business would have grown so much more without the kiddos, but I wouldn't trade the world for them. I think running a business gives my kids a tangible sense of hard work that they see me staying late at the cafe cleaning or catching up on paperwork while they're playing. My daughter is now 14 and has been working as a barista since she was 12. She's learned so much in many aspects and is very mature at her age. I'm very grateful to have a supportive husband, and the kids are understanding most of the time.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

I'd say... the first one would be to have an ambitious vision but start small. Lots of businesses fail because they want to get to the mountaintop in one day, but as we navigate through the journey, we may change directions, learn new things and expand our horizons.

Do what you love would be the 2nd tip. There are so many ups and downs, and it would be impossible to get through those hurdles without a huge passion for what you do. Don't do it just for the money or for a trend
do it because you truly believe in what you do.

Do something that scares you every day, well, not necessarily every day but once in a while. Don't stay where you're right now for too long, be it launching a new product, starting a new collaboration, or making a cold sales call (this is on the bottom of my lists, hehe). Never stop learning and growing.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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