Meet Our GM, the Ultimate Mama and Chai Powerhouse.
If you have ever had the pleasure of meeting our GM Kacey, you would know that she is not only a ray of sunshine, but she has this ability to take life on, all guns blazing and come out on top. Her gusto is mesmerizing, her laugh contagious and even with having just given birth to twin girls, she always has time to listen, to banter and to make you feel heard. We wanted to dive into her role at Calmer, her dreams and aspirations and why leadership was the role she decided to master.
Q: First things first, who are you in the zoo? Tell us about your role at Calmer Chai and how (and when) it all began.
I’m the General Manager at Calmer Chai and I’ve been with the company for about 4 years now.
I come from a hospitality background and had been managing a cafe here in Melbourne for a couple of years when I decided I needed a break from early mornings and weekend work. I still loved the industry so wanted to remain in it somehow. A friend actually sent me the ‘Scout’ ad when Calmer was hiring a Sales Consultant. I had no experience in sales but thought I’d give it a crack. At the interview, Caitlin and I couldn’t stop talking. We could have sat and shared chai all day and night without a pause- and I think that instant connection is what landed me the role.
I went from Sales into an Office Manager position after about 18 months (from memory) and from there moved into the GM role.
Q: Did you always see yourself as a leader? Tell us the pros and cons of being in a leadership role.
No, haha! In fact, I distinctly recall saying to my dad (who is a born leader!) in my early twenties that I didn’t ever want to be in charge of anyone- I’m just not cut out for it; the thought terrifies me. And he said to me, “It’ll come with age darling. You will be the best leader”.
I absolutely love leading the Calmer team- they are a unique bunch of passionate individuals and they make guiding them easy and fun. I get a sense of pride and comfort watching our mighty team succeed, no matter how big or small the win. We are a fiercely close team and I feel so honoured to work alongside each of them.
A downfall I’ve found with being in leadership is the pressure I place on myself. I am a self-proclaimed martyr at the best of times, so having the buck stop with me can at times make my life extra busy. I’m not the best at delegating so I can often take on too much responsibility and then stress out!
“I get a sense of pride and comfort watching our mighty team succeed, no matter how big or small the win.”
Q: So, it seems that hospitality is kinda your jam. Do you see yourself in this career forever or do you have other dreams on the horizon?
Yeah absolutely, I am so incredibly lucky to love my job and the beautiful business that is Calmer Chai! I’ve had plenty of jobs that I’ve hated and I simply won’t put up with that anymore!
I wouldn’t call myself a dreamer, but lately I’ve been dreaming of running a hot bath, brewing a big old pot of chai and locking the door so that my babies can’t find me haha jokes.
Q: Yes babies! You are a new Mum of twins (OMG). How do you balance this new life of yours and what challenges have helped you grow or have made you want to rip your hair out?
Balance? What is that? If you find it can you please send it my way!?
I was lulled into a false sense of confidence when the babies were newborns. I reached out to Caitlin when they were 6 weeks old and was all, “I’m ready to come back- consider me available for chats” (insert hysterical laughter).
I always kept my toe dipped into what was going on in the business during my maternity leave, but I officially came back to work in March when the babies were 9 months old. The biggest and most frustrating challenge has been navigating all of the sickness that comes along with the daycare scene. Feeling like I’m letting the team down when I have to stay home with the babes is tough, but I am trying to learn the art of surrendering and acceptance. I’m forever reminded that my colleagues are so bloody capable which is a wonderful lesson to learn again and again.
The other major challenge has been navigating the fact that my brain function has legitimately changed after having the babies- I swear! I can’t think as quickly as I used to, I’m not firing like I used to, it’s really frustrating and I’m sure all mummas can relate. The sleep deprivation can’t help haha! But I do hear that it’ll come back to me one day- here’s hoping.
“Feeling like I’m letting the team down when I have to stay home with the babes is tough, but I am trying to learn the art of surrendering and acceptance.”
Q: Back to chai, have you ever thought about opening up your own cafe? Is this something Calmer chai would ever explore? Why or why not?
I have indeed; it was always a bit of a dream when I was a young, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed woman in the industry!
My “why not” would be because it’s a damn hard slog. I’d also hesitate to open “any old cafe” in Melbourne because the scene is so competitive and absolutely saturated.
There have been plenty of long chats where Caitlin and I have gone on an epic imaginary adventure where we have all kinds of exciting new projects and businesses…But for now, we are so laser-focused on continuing to make the most delicious chai for all you wild chai-addicts out there.
“...we are so laser focused on continuing to make the most delicious chai for all you wild chai addicts out there.”
Q: Career-wise, if it wasn’t chai, what would it be? If you could do ANYTHING in the world.
I truly feel so stoked to be doing what I’m doing that I can’t imagine working anywhere else- sorry Calmer, you’re stuck with me now!
But when I think deeply about the question, I think it comes down to my love for watching the whole process come together, so maybe I love the manufacturing industry (which sounds strange haha!).
I love seeing our blends come to life; each individual ingredient playing a vital role. And then seeing the pleasure it brings to people’s lives- it’s wonderful!
So, (if it wasn’t Calmer) I’d perhaps land somewhere else where creatives were blending, brewing, packing, laughing and loving- a brewery, or distillery perhaps!?
Q: Any “business crushes” that you would love to work with or just really admire?
We connected with Martha, the co-founder of Loving Earth; she is such an inspiring power-house and I love the way she approaches business and people. The night before we met I actually had a dream where she was the lead singer of a rock band- she’s pretty badass so I guess you could say she’s my business crush!
One of my high school besties, Phoebe, is a restaurant owner and I really admire her and her success. She owns Kouzina in Byron Bay and is absolutely killing it! The restaurant is a roaring success and she remains so humble and focused. She’s achieved a really sustainable work/life balance and I’m super proud of her!
“I love seeing our blends come to life; each individual ingredient playing a vital role. And then seeing the pleasure it brings to people’s lives- it’s wonderful!”
Q: Lastly, if you could have one cup of chai with anyone in the world (dead or alive), who would it be and what would you talk about? Which chai would you offer them?
I would make a warm pot of our original blend (Calmer) for my Nana. She passed away a few years back but I think of her every single day and wish she was around to see what I’m up to and to meet my baby girls.
She was a wonderful listener- we would mostly talk about the babies haha. But I know she would be so proud of what I’ve achieved and would tell all her friends at mahjong to buy our products! Bless her.