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Bondi Chai Latte

Nelson Bay, New South Wales, Australia

Martin was born in England and migrated to Tassie in 1969 with his family. He changed jobs every couple of years, including working as a farmhand, gardener, compositor (printing), sub-editor, journalist, Economic Development Manager, Australian CEO of Japanese company, and even owned his own PR/Marketing company before launching Bondi Chai journey at 49 years old.


Melissa is Tassie born and bred, and one of a set of twins. She always thought she'd follow a career in interior decorating but ended up having a go at a bit of everything over the years. The most unusual work she's done was as a Technical Assistant in a Ship Hydrodynamics (Towing) Tank in Tassie where she tested the hull of one of the yachts for an Aussie team in the America's Cup challenge. 


Martin and Melissa moved to Port Stephens from Launceston in 2007. 



How do you separate your personal life from your business life?

Martin: I don’t see any need to separate the two because building our business is such a fun, challenging, fulfilling thing to do that it’s hard to walk away from it. Being in business sometimes (often) means getting out of balance at times – even to the point of fanaticism – complaining about that really only adds to any pain/frustration/weariness you might feel.


Melissa: Ditto – although I do try and turn off all my devices for a week every few months and head for the hills to re-charge my own batteries.

What’s your favourite ‘we time’ thing to do?

Martin: Reading. Walking in the bush/on the beach.


Melissa: A STEP class at the gym (with my favourite instructor Lisa – you may have met her already on some of our 250g packs) – all the ‘dancey prancey stuff' always shakes off the tension and puts a smile on my face.

What nice surprises have you found in running Bondi Chai?

Martin: The world I wanted to build was actually possible and the vast majority of people always want to do the right thing.


Melissa: We love to jump in the car and head off for a trip to drop in on some of the people who serve Bondi Chai and say 'Thank You' – such a wonderful way to spend time getting to know people you would never get to talk to normally, like Tammy, the founder of The Good Food Bakery in Victoria.

What not-so-nice surprises?

Martin: When it comes to the crunch, EVERYBODY, is looking after No. 1. Also, too many people make decisions on price, not value.


Melissa: Working with people that when things go wrong instantly look for someone to blame instead of trying to find a solution.

Do you have any advice for someone contemplating starting or buying a business?


- Don’t give advice, get it… then weigh it carefully before acting on it.

- Finance your start-up with sweat (equity) not debt.
- If you know it’s been done before, know that you can do it too.

- The answer is “yes”, what was the question?


Melissa: Make sure you are doing it for the right reasons. Don’t do it because it seems like “the thing everyone’s doing”. The people who have a business already desperately need people who want to work for someone else, so if that’s where you feel most comfortable you need to know that we really appreciate your help.

Do you have any funny or favourite customer stories?

Martin: Our first distributor yelled (loudly) at us for “stuffing up, big time” when we proudly presented Bondi Chai to him as a replacement for the withdrawn US brand we had previously been selling. “What have you done!” he said. “I can’t sell this s**t, it’s never gonna sell!”. He was gracious enough to thank us for the champagne we gave him to help celebrate our 10th anniversary (7 years ago).


Melissa: When we decided we wanted to start Bondi Chai we were living in Tassie and had absolutely no foodie knowledge. We had a favourite café in Launceston called Aromas – we asked them if we could come and have a chat with them about what Café Owners wanted/needed so we could understand first hand to make sure we were on the right track. George and Mary, like us, are still serving Bondi Chai today! They’re part of our Faces Of Bondi Chai project. You might have met them on our packaging, but make sure you read their story as well.