Interview by Lisbeth Moneton
To read the original Interview in French click, here.
Thank you for taking the time to share your story and passion for matcha tea - we love your business name, Anatae, which means “for you” in Japanese. We're inspired by your success and tenacity. In a short period of time, you have managed to start supplying 30 restaurants and bistros around France while working with them to find interesting and creative ways to use matcha both in food and as a beverage. We're excited to learn more about your journey.
(Top left photo taken by @darwin.nutrition)
FF: Where were you born?
Camille: I was born in Perpignan in 1993.
FF: Tell us about your childhood and teenage years?
Camille: I had a very happy childhood! I had the good fortune of growing up near the sea and mountains. I have so many happy memories there with my 3 sisters and 2 brothers. I come from a large step-family with parents who had both separated. At home, there was always a great atmosphere and lots of laughter!
I was a rather easy child, of a calm nature, and always a good student yet never the first in class either.
FF: In University, you completed business school and that allowed you to travel around the world. Can you share with us, how these experiences shaped you? and how your journey to Hong Kong changed your life?
Camille: Of course! In just a few years, I became what was completely unexpected of me! I went from a little sporty girl with very little interest in travel and other 'unusual' adventures to becoming addicted to all of this. At the time, I was fortunate to have lived one year in London and another in Buenos Aires, and finally 6 months in Hong Kong. Each time, the cultural difference got a little bigger.
And it is true, Hong Kong, which was also my first time in Asia, changed my life because it was then that I discovered matcha tea. Matcha Tea is green tea in powder form that is almost everywhere in Asia (i.e. ice creams, drinks, cookies, etc.). I loved it!
FF: Tell us a bit about your professional career before “Anatae” and how you found yourself in the world of matcha tea?
Camille: After my studies at ESC Montpellier and all these great adventures around the world, I worked at a luxury hotel and a lingerie brand for 2 years. They were both big companies and good positions but, I could feel that I was not in my place.
In the summer of 2018, the end of my employment contract was approaching and I felt that this time I was not going to start a new job search. Instead, I used my savings and went to Japan for two months! Japan was the country I most dreamed of visiting plus it was time for me to get started on my matcha tea business idea.
When I got there, I saw matcha everywhere, and I knew I was making the right decision to spend my stay looking for a matcha producer who could help me import this tea into France. I had been thinking about the idea of importing matcha tea to France on a regular basis since my stay in Hong Kong in 2016, and I had almost 'started' several times without actually doing it. BUT this time was perfect! I started to notice matcha tea arrive in France, but at a very low quality so, this was one more reason to get started.
I decided to split my trip between Tokyo and Osaka because these cities are close to the regions I was interested in. I worked 20 hours a week in hostels in exchange for accommodation. I used the rest of my time to go to the mountains where green tea was grown. I learned as much as I could about the intricacies of this tea and meet as many farmers as possible. I was looking for a matcha tea that was not bitter - which is quite rare but I knew it had to exist. In fact, the colour of the matcha tea is a reliable quality indicator - it must be vibrant green, not khaki clay brown.
FF: It's very important for you to offer organic matcha tea. In more details, can you tell us about your trip to Japan to find the best products?
Camille: Yes, that's right. I do no want to participate in the use of pesticides. This practice is economical, of course, but it kills insects in tea fields, fish in nearby rivers, and is terrible for the health of consumers. Also, in the case of matcha, we consume the entire leaf, so it is out of the question for me to offer a powder that contains chemicals!
After many meetings and having tasted countless matcha teas, I finally found the product I was looking for. It is produced by a family of Japanese farmers that use natural fertilizers and compost techniques. It takes a lot more work than their competitors who use pesticides, but it is unthinkable for them to do otherwise.
FF: For those who are not familiar with the benefits of matcha tea, can you explain?
Camille: The list of benefits of matcha tea is quite impressive! First of all, consuming matcha amounts to ingesting all of the green tea leaf, unlike brewing it. Our body, therefore, benefits from all the nutrients, vitamins, and fibres contained in the tea. Green tea is very rich in antioxidants, and thanks to them, matcha tea is excellent for your skin, memory, and general health. It is also an anti-inflammatory or an 'alkaline food', which reduces the harmful effect of acidic food on the body.
Besides grinding, there is another major difference between matcha and regular green tea. In the process of preparing matcha, the tea leaves are covered with black cloths for 3 weeks after the harvest. This phenomenon pushes the plant to produce a large amount of chlorophyll, another great antioxidant, and L-Theanine which is a natural painkiller. The latter, combined with the caffeine in tea, creates a very interesting balance that allows you to be awake without being irritated. This balance is ideal for meditation, concentration and it helps balance our mood.
FF: Who are your customers?
Camille: I sell matcha tea on my online store for individuals who wish to consume it at home and I also sell in some grocery stores. Among others, there are: Mon Epicerie Paris, Coco Knot in Nice, or Un Jour Vert in Bordeaux. You can find the list of points of sale on my website.
I also supply around thirty coffee shops and restaurants all over France. A big part of my work consists of approaching them and getting them to taste my product. Generally, they are thrilled by the quality and say that it is complicated to find such a good one 😃
FF: What is your favourite matcha recipe?
Camille: What I prefer is the matcha latte: 1 teaspoon of matcha + the milk of your choice. I prepare it with oat milk. It is such a delight for breakfast or as a snack. For baking, I recently made a coconut and matcha cake. It's a combination that works wonderfully!
On the website, in the "Blog" section I share a ton of recipes. They are usually created by talented pastry chefs or naturopaths whom I contact via Instagram to help me create nice content. Do not hesitate to go and take a look!
FF: It seems that we can even make matcha skin masks?
Camille: Absolutely, it's great for the skin! However, I would use a lower quality matcha than those I offer. Otherwise, it would be like using a grand cru as cooking wine 😉
The Japanese wouldn't appreciate it at all!
FF: Tell us about your actions and commitment to protecting our planet through Anatae?
Camille: Indeed, environmental protection has been an essential building block since the beginning of Anatae. I offer a high quality organic matcha tea that is farmed sustainably. I also try to minimize printing, avoid plastic, and create my marketing pieces, which are already very rare, on recycled and recyclable paper. That goes for my shipping boxes too.
The ultimate goal is to be able to import by boat. Anatae has to scale up before we are able to do that but it's an objective.
FF: How important are social networks for you and Anatae?
Camille: Critical! I use Instagram daily. It is the social network that made Anatae known. I think, right now, is the best time to start a business. I probably wouldn't have started without Instagram. This is the tool of my generation so, I master it and I really enjoy it. If you have Instagram, don't hesitate to follow Anatae! I post there very regularly and keep my followers informed on upcoming events I participate in.
FF: What were the most difficult decisions you had to make? And how did you approach them?
Camille: I can't think of a particularly difficult decision but I would say that entrepreneurship as a whole is something difficult. You're working a lot, sometimes without results and knowing how to stay motivated, is complicated! You have to believe very strongly in your project. Organizing events is also an obstacle course! But all these steps make the victories even more beautiful.
FF: What were your biggest doubts and fears when starting your business? How did you overcome them?
Camille: I launched Anatae on a small budget because I didn't want to borrow money. I started the business and used my savings to invest in creating inventory to get me started. I was afraid I would not be able to make myself known because I did not plan to invest in advertising.
Fortunately, my initial feeling was right - my story and the quality of my product was interesting to others. I was able to make myself known through social media and more precisely through other content creators that already had a large following. Among the first was the naturopath Emilie (@cestsibon_nutrition) or Clélia, a specialist in holistic well-being (@du_green_et_du_love). They were the first ones to agree to receive my products, taste them, and talk about them for free on their network. It was fantastic!
FF: Did you have to sacrifice luxuries, downsize or how did you manage financially while starting your business?
Camille: I still live in a small studio in Paris. A section of my apartment is where I store my products. I think when you start, every little expense you can avoid should be avoided. I also work a lot and I make sacrifices by working on weekends and reducing my expenses. But, even though I say that, I would give everything to see the project continue to succeed!
Honestly, this type of life experience also you to “sort through” those around you. We immediately see who supports us and who, on the contrary, is jealous and does not seem to share our joy in our small victories. I was surprised and disappointed by friends who did not necessarily understand my pace of life, the fact that I had a small budget, and my determination. Starting a business is like having a baby. My sense of priorities has changed. Whoever loves me follows me. As for the others, too bad.
FF: What are the basic beliefs that have really helped you through difficult times?
Camille: I always tell myself that if others have done it, then I can too. It is often said but, it is so true! By proposing a product of such high quality, with such a sincere approach, and working this hard to make Anatae known, I honestly see no other solution - it HAS to work!
FF: Can you highlight one of the experiences you learned the most or taught you the biggest lesson?
Camille: Trade shows and exhibitions are always very educational. They are among the most difficult times. Imagine you are carrying everything in huge suitcases, setting up your stand with the kettle, the cups, all the paraphernalia and you stand behind your stand all day and there are ultimately very few visitors, or the customers are unkind ... Sometimes it’s difficult. I almost want to pack up and go home. But there are also those times when attendance is at its peak and people are so supportive.
I have a lot of memories of me behind my stand serving 4 or 5 customers at a time making them discover matcha. They usually love it and become passionate about my story, start recommending me on their social networks and of course buy some matcha. Sometimes, I see the same people again at other shows and they mention to me that they continue to drink their matcha tea every morning ... For me, it's magical when they tell me that this 'green tea powder' that I went looking for on the other side of the world is part of their daily life. These experiences remind me that I must always re-focus on this beautiful story, my research in Japan, and the state of mind in which I created Anatae.
FF: What were the happiest moments of this experience?
Camille: Among the happiest moments, I would say was the day I tasted THE matcha - the one I had been looking for, for weeks. It fulfilled all the prerequisites: organic, delicious, not bitter, and produced in the Japanese tradition. I was happy to say to myself that my project was actually going to see the light of day.
There is also the first time I held my product in my hand after I stuck the label on the tea bag for the first time. These are unforgettable moments!
FF: Who are the women and men who supported you?
Camille: To this day, I am the only one working for Anatae. Yet, I am, of course, thinking of my parents who supported me financially during my studies. This is what allowed me to become who I am today - a young woman who speaks several languages, who has a degree, and who is absolutely not afraid to go to Japan for 2 months alone. It’s not scary to me, it’s exciting, but I know it scares others.
FF: What is success for you?
Camille: For me, success means being happy, no more, no less! Doing this job makes me happy. But, the day I can live off it, without becoming a multinational, then it will be a real success.
FF: To what do you attribute your success?
Camille: First of all, if we talk about success in the financial sense, I don't yet consider Anatae to be a success. I started the business a year ago, and I am not yet there. Maybe soon, I hope! It’s a success in the sense that I finally love my job, and that the company has experienced good growth every month since its launch. I would say that this is due to the quality of the product which, for me, is incredible.
My customers say it as well - they've never had such a good, sweet matcha. I am delighted when I receive their feedback and that they recognize the rigorous selection I made.
FF: When did you feel that you had succeeded ... that you had a business that worked?
Camille: This moment has not yet arrived! But the day the products entered the Nature & Découvertes online store, something happened, I felt “in the race” and even more capable. It was great recognition.
FF: What is the next step?
Camille: This year, I would like to develop new tea accessories and / or a new range of matcha. Also, I would like, above all, to be sold in a large organic grocery chain. It would help me develop. What I would like is that quality matcha tea, like the one I offer, becomes more accessible! I would also like people to learn to recognize a low quality matcha. I think the product has a bright future in France. It's so delicious!
FF: Looking back, would you start all over again?
Camille: 100 times yes! I have never regretted a moment to have launched myself, and I am far from backtracking. It’s one of the best choices of my life.
Some rapid fire questions:
FF: How do you prepare for the day?
Camille: After 1 year of entrepreneurship, I'm starting to find a rhythm that suits me. In the morning, I do tasks such as storage, organization, planning. I prepare packages for orders received on my site and I post them. It is starting to become substantial and I will therefore delegate this part soon.
In the afternoon, when I don't have an appointment, I work from home or in a cafe from 2:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., sometimes later. This is when I move forward the most. I don’t really work Monday to Friday because a lot of events take place on weekends. This is one of the advantages / disadvantages of entrepreneurship - flexibility!
FF: What are your favourite activities to do on a day off?
Camille: I like to see my friends. I do a lot of sports. Sometimes I go to Perpignan for a few days to see my family. I love going back there. The pace there is so different from that of Paris, and the quality of life is so much better. It’s a little paradise for me! But, I love walking around Paris and for my work, this is the best place.
FF: What inspires you in life?
Camille: I remain passionate about travel and different cultures around the world. These are subjects that inspire me. Beyond that, I like simple things: family, nature, good times with friends.
FF: If you could travel anywhere for a day, where would you go?
Camille: I hesitate between Perpignan and Spain, where I have a lot of memories and where part of my family also lives. I am half Spanish.
FF: What brings you the most joy at the moment?
Camille: Right now, we are in full COVID-19 containment so, what brings me the most joy is to realize that I live in a small Parisian studio and that I have not once felt cramped or sad. I am very happy and grateful for everything I have: healthy relatives, exciting work, lots of projects ... I take this time to work calmly, do yoga, cook ...
FF: What did you discover about yourself during the creation of Anatae?
Camille: This adventure confirmed what I have noticed for a few years - I love challenges. I like it when it’s difficult - when I’m challenged and tested. There is a phrase I love that says: "happiness is just behind what scares us and gets us out of our comfort zone”. I like this thought.
FF: Is there one woman who inspires you more than others?
Camille: My mother, without hesitation. Starting from nothing, she became an excellent lawyer, raised 4 children almost alone. She is so generous and she can do everything! Tinkering, sewing, gardening ... She always impress me.
FF: What is your favourite book/film?
Camille: I don't know if it's my favorite, but I really like Tony Robbins' film “I am not your guru”. It’s a story about personal development. Tony Robbins is an American life coach and author that I love. For me, this is the kind of film that can change lives, I recommend it!
FF: Describe your life with one word?
Camille: Adventure :)
FF: In 3 words, how do your friends describe you?
Camille: Sweet, determined, free
FF: Do you have a motto that guides you?
Camille: Do what feels right. I think it’s good to follow your gut.
FF: What is your best advice for those who want to live their dreams?
Camille: Listen to the advice of people around you, but follow only a few! Their reality is not yours. If you have a dream and are ready to do everything to make it happen, go for it!
FF: You do an incredible job for others and the planet, so can we do something for you?
Camille: Thank you very much! I am delighted to have been able to share it with you! Feel free to talk about Anatae around you, spread my story and contact me if you need anything :)
Thank you very much Camille for all your interesting explanations and your very wise words. It is not always easy to be an entrepreneur and you have to believe very strongly in your project so, we will support you in any way we can. We wish you so much success with Anatae and want to invite our community to learn more about Anatae below: