It comes as no surprise that Sage Greenwood developed a superfood product when you learn that she grew up with a strong focus on health and wellness.
The co-founder of Golden Grind, a turmeric product range, describes her childhood in the Dandenong Ranges, on Melbourne’s outskirts, as one where her family “lived off the land”.
“Mum was always a big believer in healing ourselves as naturally as possible whenever we’d be unwell. We’d have lemon and honey tea rather than cold and flu tablets – that kind of approach was what we were brought up with. And turmeric was a part of our lives growing up,” she said.
But it wasn’t until Greenwood noticed turmeric lattes flying out the door at their family-run cafe that she thought there might be something more to this golden ingredient that has anti-inflammatory and gut health benefits.
The turmeric lattes were all made from scratch at the cafe but Greenwood, her sister and brother-in-law were keen to find a ready-made spice mix that would allow them to make the drinks faster.
When the trio discovered nothing like this existed in the market, they decided to create their own blend using clean ingredients.
In April 2016, Golden Grind was born.
“We created a business out of a need that we had that no one else could fulfil,” Greenwood said.
“We were quite lucky that at the time we were the only (turmeric latte) brand in Australia doing the product in a healthy way. There were products out there that contained sugar in the turmeric, which we didn’t want to do, so we created a single health product that fulfilled that need.”
When friends and visitors at the cafe asked if they could purchase the turmeric blend to make the lattes at home, the product was packaged and sold online using a Shopify site.
Tackling challenges in business
Greenwood describes the launch of Golden Grind as “a very ad-hoc process” because none of the business partners had experience in manufacturing or product development.
The business experienced rapid growth in its first year, landing its products in 500 stockists nationally. The range is now also available in New Zealand, USA and UK.
As the business did not have funding, all founders had to maintain their full-time jobs while launching Golden Grind on the side.
“The three of us worked like crazy in that first year. It was a bit of an adrenaline rush… and I think that adrenaline kept us going,” Greenwood admits.
Despite the rapid growth and success of Golden Grind, the business has faced its challenges.
Within three months of launching, Greenwood said about 30 competitors entered the market.
Even though the turmeric latte blend is their hero product, Golden Grind has maintained its edge by diversifying its range, which is currently made up of nine products across superfoods, supplements and skincare.
It has taken time and a few lessons to refine their product offering, Greenwood said.
“There was a lot of learning about the products that didn’t work. We learned that the market doesn’t always respond to what we like, and we had to accept that we can be wrong,” she said.
“We took those failures and setbacks, learned from them and then moved on quickly. It was important for us not to dwell on those setbacks too much.”
Balancing two careers
Greenwood began working at WINK Models in 2013 when she offered to run a Melbourne office for the growing modelling agency.
In 2016 she was appointed managing director when founder Taryn Williams became CEO.
Greenwood worked as a model at age 14 and took on jobs throughout school and university but never saw herself pursuing modelling as a career.
She was, however, interested in working on the agency side and saw some gaps in the market that she wanted to tackle. Introducing more business efficiencies and focusing on diversity are just a couple of aspects she has driven at WINK Models.
Yet, balancing two very different and very demanding careers has not been easy, admits Greenwood.
Her role at WINK Models is full-time and Golden Grind requires her attention after hours and on weekends.
“I don’t always get that ‘switch off time’ but I do try to schedule one weekend day off,” she said.
Greenwood recalls an 18-month period where she barely exercised because work became too demanding. She now blocks out time for exercise in her calendar, even if it’s for 30 minutes each day, to ensure it happens.
“Of course, if there are mornings where I’m extremely tired or not feeling the best, I’ll make the choice to sleep in. It’s about recognising when you need the rest,” she said.
“I’ve learned that prioritising yourself is key… to having that time to recharge so I can sustain the energy and passion to run both businesses.”