1- Hello Felice, can you tell us a bit about yourself
Hi, I came to the US to study Chemical Engineering at the prestigious Georgia Tech several years ago. As I was prepping to come to the US, my father sent me to an online marketing workshop in the hope that I may be able to use this knowledge tool to fund my studies in the US. Who knows this turned out to be the key that ignited my entrepreneur spirits. The inner fire of entrepreneurship pushes me to continue learning about the operation of an online business (during my free time) throughout my college years. I reinvested every penny of my internship earnings to equip myself with the knowledge that will help me to operate a successful online business, from building a website to designing flyers to editing videos to doing accounting, I know them all. Thanks to all the planning I had been seeding over the years, I was ready to launch my first online business when I met my then boyfriend, who is now my husband. Together, we have successfully founded several e-commerce businesses with our youngest company—Young America, hit the $1 million revenue mark within a year of its launch. “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”, I attribute our success to this saying, which serves as an everyday reminder to operating our businesses.
2- How would you describe “Young America” in under few words?
Because of me being a Malaysian and my husband being a French, we created Young America with the aim to connect our customers with high-quality products (i.e. groceries, home decor and beauty products) from different corners of the world. Last month, we just launched our most unique product line ever—Zendori Matcha green tea powder, fresh from Japan!
3- What are your focus areas and why?
Customer experience and product quality are the two main areas we focus on in all of our businesses. Why? Our happiness is built upon our customers’ satisfaction. If they are happy, we are happier! We constantly ask ourselves this kind of questions, “is this something we would want as a customer? Would we feel special as a customer with such a shopping experience?” We make sure that we only offer products that we are the happy users of. Oh well, we have pretty high taste and our customers trust us for that.
Recently, with the launch of our very own matcha green tea powder—Zendori, we have taken the customer experience and product quality to a whole new level. From the brand concept to the conceived Zendori Matcha, everything was designed to deliver a full blown zen experience. We put in a lot of love, care and surprises to the product packaging, the taste of our matcha and the after purchase support—we offer a unique, artistic Matcha Beginner’s Guide with Recipes to ensure our customers have an unforgettable experience when receiving the product. The happy moments we capture through Zendori Matcha are just priceless.
4- Tell us more about “Zendori Matcha”?
Sure! As a lot of people don’t know what matcha is, let’s start with defining ‘matcha’ in a few words: matcha is green tea leaves that were crushed into fine powder; it can be mixed with hot water for pure drinking or blend into shakes, smoothies, lattes or even used for baking for flavoring. When you consume matcha, you’re ingesting the whole nutrient-packed tea leaves. And therefore drinking 1 cup of matcha is equivalent to drinking 10 cups of regular green tea. I must say matcha is the next hot superfood. It has a super high level of antioxidants, which is 6 times more than that of goji berry and 25 times more than that of açai berry. It has 2 to 3 times LESS caffeine than coffee, yet provide a longer lasting energy and no jitteriness! It boosts metabolism and burns fats. It relaxes body and calms mind… I can go on and on with the many health benefits it offers.
We are so excited about the health benefits matcha brings that we decided to develop Zendori Matcha that is not just high in quality but also with a mission to inspire people to slow down in their hectic life, be present to appreciate little things and live the moment. To stay true to our core values, we source our matcha from a family tea plantation that is located on the best soils of Japan for matcha cultivation—Nishio and Kyōto. Our tea supplier has been making matcha for over a century and it has crafted one of the finest matcha in the world. Yes, we are all about ‘QualiTEA’ and we want to share it with everyone. Other factors play an important role in how good a matcha is. For instance, the taste of matcha is greatly affected by the grinding process. Our matcha is ground in a traditional way using granite wheels, which are handcrafted by one of the few remaining stone carvers in Japan. The tea leaves are ground into micron size, so fine that it can penetrate through your fingerprints. Every sip of Zendori Matcha is a taste of love from the Zendori family. Only if you slow down and really ENJOY the matcha, you will feel the immense care of our Japanese tea growers and our attention to every little detail in the making Zendori Matcha. Your experience matters most to us.
5- How “Zendori Matcha” is useful in an era with everything from environment to products we use are not totally clean?
Zendori Matcha is a natural detoxifier, thanks to its rich content of chlorophyll, which plays a vital role in flushing out heavy metals and chemical toxins from the body. Our matcha is shaded several weeks prior to its harvest time, so that its chlorophyll content increases drastically to absorb enough sunlight. Because of that, Zendori Matcha has higher amount of chlorophyll than regular green tea, making it a very powerful detoxifier.
I must mention Zendori Matcha is 100% green tea powder with a natural hint of sweetness. Strictly no sugar or artificial flavors added. This is important in today’s world when we don’t always pay attention to what we put in our stomach. With Zendori Matcha, you should have a peace of mind when having your daily detox.
6- How do you differentiate yourselves from your competitors?
What pushed us into creating Zendori Matcha is that we had tried out more than 20 brands of matcha in the hope to find one that we will truly enjoy every day. Unfortunately, most of them were bitter in taste and dull in color. Most matcha brands are marketed so well that you think you’re getting a good matcha, but you’re not. The quality is just not there, by our standard. Well, there are some good matcha on the market but unfortunately, their prices are too high that not many people can afford to drink it on a regular basis. That’s why Zendori Matcha is here to fill the gap—supreme quality, affordable price and a second to none experience.
QUALITY: Our matcha is vibrant green in color, aromatic, creamy and has a lingering umami sweetness. There are 2 ways to prepare matcha, one is Usucha (thin matcha) and another one is Koicha (thick matcha). Only matcha made with the highest quality, the youngest and the most tender tea leaves can prepare Koicha. You will have no issues preparing Koicha with Zendori Matcha (Ceremonial/Drinking Grade).
AFFORDABLE PRICE: We are a lifestyle brand and we hope to inspire as many people as possible to kick start a healthy zen-driven lifestyle. That’s why we make sure our matcha is selling at an affordable price so that everyone can take advantage of the health benefits that matcha offers.
EXPERIENCE: Zendori is not just another tea company. We have a mission, that is to spread the message of the importance of being present and live the moment. We convey this message through our aesthetically designed packaging, the unique taste of our matcha and a beginner’s guide that is full of zen-inspired drawings. Attention to the detail is how we give our customers an unforgettable experience every time they drink Zendori Matcha.
We care about you. That’s why we are different!
7- What are some things that most people don’t know about your job?
Most people may think that I am the boss and I have my team to do most of the heavy lifting for me. In fact, I work 7 days a week, 16 hours a day plus I am a full-time mom. I know, this is ridiculous, right? Well, as the team leader, I must know every aspect of our business before delegating the work to my team members. From packing the products to taking product pictures to answering phone calls, I need to know it personally so that I know how to improve Zendori. In any event that something goes wrong, I can jump right in to fix it. My life is hectic and I really need to take a step back to have a bigger view of our business operation. I am working on having a more balanced work schedule once my team is on track with our new product, Zendori Matcha. Ultimately, I must do what I preach—being present and live the moment. That’s what matters to me for having created Zendori.
8- And what were some of the biggest challenges you encountered personally?
I would say time management and sticking to the timeline are the two biggest challenges for me. In the case of Zendori, we were expecting to take less than a month to create a packaging that meets our vision. This project turned out to take us 8 months to complete because of all the details and messages we wanted to include. Didn’t I say we only offer products that we are the happy users of?
9- What are you most excited about at the moment?
Art by Zendori. I am very excited about this new project. We thought that practicing the art of zen living should not be limited to drinking matcha; appreciating inspirational art is also a way to keep the positivity flows around you. We are about to launch (early 2016) a line of beautiful, zen-inspired prints on wood. I hope we can pass our positive energy through these art pieces.
On the personal side, I am excited about my two daughters growing up. The elder one is a little over 2 years old now. Seeing her learning new words every day and starting to converse with me in 3 different languages (yeah, we are teaching her English, French and Mandarin), makes me feel so proud! The younger one is going to turn 3 months soon and I am very happy to see her smile whenever I talk or sing to her. Life is great because I’m living in the moment right now!
10- A last Word or final thoughts?
I would like to encourage everyone to take the time to pause and reflect on your busy life. Think of what things are the most important to you. Make a list. Does family come first? Do you spend enough time with your loved ones? Do you tell them how much you love them? Don’t wait for things to happen, take action and make them happen because life is too short to spend on waiting. Believe in what you do and don’t let anyone stop you. Go for it and you will discover the true happiness!
Thank you for your interview!