I’m the owner of The Chai Room. My business makes and sells hand-blended organic black teas with my mix of spices. The Chai Room came about because I craved a connection with the home I’d left behind after my husband and I moved to Sydney ten years ago. When I first started my business, I sold tea brewed on the spot, in local markets to see if people liked it. The positive response I had blew me away and it encouraged me to keep working on my business.
I’m continually learning about how the tea industry works here in Australia, what spices are grown here and how. The land and its history have helped me connect deeply with Sydney. My business has centred me, it’s given me direction on where I came from and where I’m headed.
What drives me is maintaining that connection with my family in England. I feel the link and memories when I’m working on The Chai Room with my family or surrounded by my local community. I also want to show my children what it means to live your passion and make it work.
Australia was somewhere I never thought I'd end up. It sounded like a faraway land, very different from the rest of the world while I was living in London. I met my husband in the UK through some friends. We got married and settled in London. When a work opportunity came up for him in Sydney, we moved here in 2008. I thought it was a chance for me to have an adventure – it turned out very different to what I’d imagined.
I felt like I’d left a part of myself behind in England. Growing up in the UK, I had a strong sense of identity within peers, my surroundings, and myself with a real cultural grounding. Everything was new in Sydney – the climate, the people and the work culture.
I had no friends, and culturally it didn’t seem as advanced as England. My social thought process also felt different from people around me. I felt I was a combination of British and Indian – there wasn’t anyone around me with the same background, and I missed that.
Before having children, I worked in fashion in Sydney designing women’s wear for high street brands. We were always six months behind trends, which I found so strange. I always felt one-step behind, only realising later there were opportunities in that. After having my first child, I decided to step back from a busy career and be a stay-at-home mum. During this transition, I rediscovered my love for chai cherished from my childhood.
I love the Australian climate even though I found it so challenging when I first moved here. It’s beautiful every day of the year - it does make a difference to my wellbeing. I also enjoy the great outdoors and going outside without having to put on too many jackets. I love meeting people at markets, in stores and at chai tea events. There are many opportunities here and I like it.
Thank you to TransferWise for this feature, more details at https://transferwise.com/au/blog/foa-fatema