Next Tuesday, March 8th is International Women's Day (IWD), a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women's equality. International Women’s Day has been recognised since the early 1900’s and is marked around the world with arts performances, talks, rallies, networking, conferences and marches.
This year’s theme is Break The Bias. Whether deliberate or unconscious, bias makes it difficult for women to move ahead. Knowing that bias exists isn’t enough, action is needed to level the playing field. IWD 2022 is encouraging us all to actively call out gender bias, discrimination and stereotyping each time we see it to help break the bias.
As a female founded business, International Women’s Day is close to our heart at OMGTea and to mark it this year, we want to take the opportunity to celebrate some of founder Katherine Swift’s achievements and reflect on the positive impact she has had overall and on other women in business.
A Brand Born Out of Adversity
When Katherine’s mum was diagnosed with a serious illness in January 2010, she vowed to do everything she could to help her. She started working with a charity that funds world-class research, she spent a lot of time in the research unit and was fascinated to see what was being discovered. The Research Director had an interest in antioxidants and Katherine found out about the potential green tea had to fight disease. If her Mum was going to drink any green tea, it had to be the best, so she researched green teas and her mission led her to matcha. Katherine and her mum started drinking organic matcha green tea and felt great. Her Mum was taking back some control that her illness robbed from her and Katherine was doing something positive to help. She felt passionate about spreading the word about this extraordinary green powder and so, five years after her Mum’s diagnosis, Katherine launched OMGTea. Thankfully, her Mum’s had the all-clear but they both continue to drink Matcha every day.
The origins of OMGTea position it as a health company and Katherine’s passion for helping people live healthier lives is also evident in her drive to support ground-breaking research of matcha. OMGTea has already been involved in two clinical studies on fat oxidation to show how OMGTea enhances healthy weight loss and scientific studies on breast cancer to highlight its potential effects on breast cancer stem cells. The research carried out by leading scientific and medical professionals at Salford University, University of Chichester and Acadia University in Canada have paved the way for more studies into matcha and will have a positive effect on the sector overall.
A year after starting OMGTea, Katherine also founded The Healthy Life Foundation, a charity that funds research into age related diseases, including cancer. The charity has raised £500k to-date and carried out two pieces of research that have the potential to improve health globally.
Supporting Other Women in Business
Katherine is a driven individual, but she is also committed to nurturing a work environment that is happy and strikes the right work/life balance. Her two sons were 5 and 7 years old when she started OMGTea so she had to learn how to juggle being a mum with running her own business. It was really challenging, particularly as her husband was a cricket coach and often travelled for prolonged periods of time with his job.
In the early years, she sometimes felt self-conscious about having to schedule meetings around school hours and when it was necessary to turn down invitations to events in the evening due to childcare needs. Over time however, she let those insecurities go and used it as an opportunity to set an example for other mothers facing the same challenges.
Katherine freely gives her time to support other women who are thinking of starting their own business. In fact, she was chosen by Amazon to be featured in their International Women’s Day campaign 2021 to encourage other female entrepreneurs on the platform. When possible, she also supports other female entrepreneurs by taking part in podcasts and as a speaker at events to share her journey and to encourage others.
We think one of the biggest strengths of OMGTea is the authenticity of the story behind the brand so it’s not surprising that key advice Katherine gives to others looking to start their own business is that they build on their personal stories to develop it in an authentic way that is true to their values.
“You read about the perfect lives of women in business, and they seem untouchable but that’s not the reality. It’s really hard sometimes, like being on an emotional rollercoaster but rather than pretending you’re perfect and infallible, it’s much more authentic to let people see the real you.”
Find out more about International Women’s Day and how you can get involved on the IWD website.