For the coffee addicts out there looking for a healthy alternative: take note. This Melbourne based health entrepreneur is hitting the café scene by storm with her very own fresh turmeric latte blend. This nutritious caffeine-free beverage is not only delicious, it’s also anti-inflammatory and has gut-healthy properties. So what’s in it? A tasty blend of fresh turmeric, fresh ginger, cinnamon, black pepper, and honey stirred into hot milk. The result is a similar take on a Chai Latte.
Read on to find out how an elective in Social Enterprise, and a passion to support positive mental health, led this Naturopath grad to create her very own business.
What inspired you to study Naturopathy?
I was always drawn to the aspects of my studies that involved mental health and mindfulness. Most students are inspired to study Naturopathy as part of their own personal journey of healing. For me, this involved working with my anxiety, depression and disordered eating habits. Like many young women, I fell prone to the pressures of society to look a certain way and this affected the way I looked at food. Food became something I feared and didn’t feel I could trust myself around. No one around me really knew how much I battled inside my head on a daily basis. Yet I always found it inspiring that even though there are so many things in life that we cannot alter or prevent from happening, we can choose to look after ourselves. We can make healthy choices, which really comes down to practicing self-love. So over the years, I learned to see food as my friend again, an opportunity to nourish my body and show myself kindness. I adopted strategies to reconnect with my natural hunger rhythms and rediscovered the pleasure of eating without making it a big deal. I could eat, enjoy and leave food alone until I was next hungry. For those who know what it is like to live in the headspace of an eating disorder (and there are far too many of us), finding my way to the other side was beyond liberating and I feel more compelled than ever to guide others towards this way of living.
“The elective Social Enterprise, was such an important part of actually turning this idea that I had a year ago, sitting in my kitchen at home, into a steadily growing business. If anything, it gives you the spark to help you promote yourself as a health practitioner and shows you that you can do anything.”
Was it difficult to set up a business in this sector?
I am certainly not alone in the turmeric industry, there are many competitors around. However, I don’t let this bother me much. I know that when I approach a cafe with a sample of my fresh turmeric blend, it is going to stand apart. No one else is using fresh turmeric. The other blends are powder-based, meaning that the turmeric has been heated in the process of turning it into a powder. The heat causes much of the volatile oils that make up the flavour profile to disappear, leaving an overwhelming bitter taste behind. Fresh turmeric provides a totally different experience, a full, vibrant flavour that is almost sweet in comparison. Feeling passionate, confident in my product and actively nurturing a belief in myself that I can do this is absolutely key, otherwise I would have given up long ago. When you start a business, you’re going to have setbacks and rejections. It’s inevitable. I’ve found that learning to push through these and take whatever lessons I can has only strengthened my resolve. I literally visualise the ones that say “no” simply not understanding what it’s about and regretting it later on when my business grows. I’m dealing with Melbourne foodie snobs after all, so there are a lot of egos in the way!
“When you start a business, you’re going to have setbacks and rejections, it’s inevitable. I’ve found that learning to push through these and take whatever lessons I can has only strengthened my resolve.”
How has starting this business changed your own life and your own personal journey with health and wellness?
I certainly consume a lot of fresh turmeric these days, that’s for sure. But on a deeper level, I’ve gained a lot of self-belief and I’m so proud of simply taking a risk. Even if it does fail, the knowledge and experience I’ve gained is invaluable. I’ve been truly touched by how people I don’t even know want to support me, it’s just such an incredible feeling. I’ve made new friends through cafe managers, baristas and owners and been given amazing opportunities that have made it all possible, such as being offered a large professional kitchen space to work in at very reasonable rates through networking. All this confidence and sense of being supported by a community has been wonderful for my wellbeing.
What has been the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that ultimately you’ve just got to surrender to the journey of it all. You can try to safeguard against obstacles and perfect as much as you want, but there will be challenges. I am a perfectionist and I had to learn to just put a great product out there instead of worrying about having the perfect product. Otherwise, I never would have launched! I remember one day freaking out because I was due to start production in the kitchen that week and the right variety of turmeric was not available from my then suppliers. Although it was stressful, this led me to search even harder that afternoon and discover my current supplier who is an amazing, dependable family-run organic farm in Northern Queensland. I speak to the farmer’s daughter on the phone about once a month and we have a really lovely relationship.
“The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that ultimately you’ve just got to surrender to the journey of it all. You can try to safeguard against obstacles and perfect as much as you want, but there will always be challenges.”
What do you hope your will business achieve? Where do you see this taking you?
Ultimately, I want to show people just how great a turmeric latte can taste. No longer is it just for health nuts, it’s actually a really enjoyable drink. Although it’s only a small impact, just getting people to consume more anti-inflammatory turmeric in their day-to-day living would be so great to achieve. I would love to see more people switching up their coffee for a fresh golden latte, which is much easier when it tastes as great as Gold Drip does! I hope to contribute to the current trend of golden lattes and establish this as a new standard to be expected in most cafés for years to come, just like the chai latte. If all goes well, I would love to expand the business across Australia and overseas.
What’s the best piece of advice you could give to students studying Naturopathy?
To the students currently studying, I would strongly encourage you to look into the Social Enterprise elective if the idea of starting a business sets you alight. This subject was such an important part of helping me to actually turn this idea that I had a year ago, sitting in my kitchen at home, into a steadily growing business. If anything, it will give you the spark to help you promote yourself as a health practitioner, as it really shows you that you can do anything. Also, don’t be afraid of clinic. It is such an exciting part of the degree, because you finally get to do what you’ve been wanting to do for the last three years. You are safe to make mistakes and ask all the questions you want. It’s a wonderful learning opportunity and you definitely want to make the most of that while you can.