Daring Women

A new leaf

A trip to Asia sparks a business idea and career change for Rachel Barnecut

By Edited and Condensed by Rob Smith January 10, 2023

Rachel Barnecut

This article originally appeared in the January/February 2023 issue of Seattle magazine.

In 2019, Rachel Barnecut visited some of Asia’s historic tea plantations and discovered matcha — a specially grown, finely powered green tea rich in antioxidants that contains an amino acid that helps decrease stress levels. “I discovered a love for the taste, the benefits and how it made me feel,” she recalls. “I was focused and less anxious.”

Like everyone else she spent much of the following year at home, giving her time to experiment with matcha ingredients. She got the entrepreneurial itch and opened Matcha Magic in Bellevue last April.

Barnecut, a Seattle native and University of Washington graduate, previously worked nine years as a user experience designer at Boeing.


I have worked for great leaders and those that left something to be desired. I learned from both. Self-awareness is one of the most important characteristics of a good leader. You can use your strengths to the best of your ability and surround yourself with those that can help bolster your weaknesses. Not only that, with self-awareness I feel like there is a willingness to learn from those that provide a different skill set and perspective than yours.


The most overrated leadership trait is intelligence, solely because intelligence alone doesn’t necessarily make for a great leader. Obviously, you want to work with someone who has a vision and a sense of how to get beyond the finish line. But in my experience, the smartest person in the room doesn’t always have the right skills to execute, communicate and build up a supportive team. I would much rather work with someone empathetic.


Organizations that are insulated by their sameness are the most significant barriers for women and anyone that is “other,” for that matter. I have been on teams that were poorly disguised boys’ clubs. I felt lucky and hopeful once I had a seat at the table. But it was a whole other thing to be heard, to question processes and goals when presented with data, and to suggest moving beyond the status quo. The sameness makes it easy for the “others” to be ignored, to get the runaround and to not receive credit for really good ideas. Beyond being frustrating, it doesn’t create a culture of openness and limits growth opportunities, which are so impactful over the course of a person’s career.


Finding small ways to be a leader and using momentum to turn those into more prominent leadership roles that inspire change.


Saying “no” is just as important as saying “yes.” There is always another project, assignment or task to be done. Never fear, the hamster wheel will keep spinning. Although it might seem great that you are working on all of these things, giving yourself permission to say no creates space to focus on doing quality work that moves you closer to your goals.


Don’t be afraid to ask questions or to question why things are done the way they are done. In any organization, there are so many points at which goals, intent and processes get complicated or lost in translation, which runs the risk of creating nonvalue-added work for everyone. Identifying those nonvalue areas is a great first step in making changes.


I’m an introvert. Networking in the traditional sense of going to events and meeting a ton of people stresses me out. As a result, I feel like I do not benefit much from these events because I get nervous and conversations feel really surface level. I love listening to podcasts and I have found that groups associated with those podcasts — whether it’s LinkedIn, Facebook or other networks — have helped me connect with peers and potential mentors. These avenues are so much more fruitful to me for advice and talking about ideas.


It sounds so cheesy, but I wouldn’t change anything. I have been able to work on interesting projects, work with great people from a variety of backgrounds, learn from mistakes and study topics that I’m passionate about. I have been with a company that has gone through high highs and low lows. All of that experience has taught me a lot about myself. I am a better communicator and collaborator, I am more confident in my skills, I am not afraid to ask questions and I know how I can positively impact those around me.


If I’m not working at Matcha Magic on a Saturday afternoon, I’m at the dog park with my husband and our 1-year-old Pomsky, Bucky, followed by takeout at home for lunch.


“Ponderlust: The story of a social caterpillar.”

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