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These Brooklyn Social Entrepreneurs Want You To Party Hard, Party Without Red Plastic Cups
Photo Credit: Forbes Business

These Brooklyn Social Entrepreneurs Want You To Party Hard, Party Without Red Plastic Cups

Mar 15 2014, 6:26pm CDT | by

The plastic red cup is a true icon of American culture. It’s there for the high school keg party, the college pizza study party, the awkward office holiday party and every milestone in between. And...

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18 weeks ago

These Brooklyn Social Entrepreneurs Want You To Party Hard, Party Without Red Plastic Cups

Mar 15 2014, 6:26pm CDT | by

The plastic red cup is a true icon of American culture. It’s there for the high school keg party, the college pizza study party, the awkward office holiday party and every milestone in between. And that’s reflected in the figures. The red solo cup – ubiquitous beer pong receptacle of choice – is part of a gargantuan industry of disposable plastics. Solo Cup, the almost-80 year old company that makes the cherished red cup was gobbled up by Dart Container in a $1 billion sale in 2012. The tableware industry alone is worth $5.5 billion.

It’s an industry two twenty-something social entrepreneurs in Greenpoint, Brooklyn are trying to shake up as demand for sustainable alternatives grows. The market for sustainable tableware is now worth around $700 million and growing, says Susty Party CEO Emily Doubilet.

The daughter of two National Geographic underwater photographers, Doubilet grew up swimming around stunning coral reefs and concerned about environmental destruction. She also loved performing and produced global warming themed burlesque shows and performed in a band in Brooklyn while working as a sustainability advisor. At a party one night she met Jessica Holsey, a Credit Suisse private equity Wall Streeter who’d studied economics at Harvard where she’d captained the basketball team. “It was awesome, I had the great dream job,” says Holsey. But she’d started thinking more about investing her time in a project that involved social as well as financial gains. “It’s funny – it took me two years working on Wall Street to even come across the term ‘social entrepreneur’,” she says.

“I wanted to be involved in the environmental movement as a person who loves parties and entertaining in Brooklyn,” says Doubilet. Noticing the amount of plastic waste that often accompanies a good shindig, Doubilet wanted to find a fun way to make her events match up with her ideals. “I started thinking, how can we have a really positive event or show without creating all this waste?” says Doubilet. “We’re environmentalists who love a good party.”

She’d “scoured the earth for compostable tableware,” but found there was no seamless way to order online. Holsey and Doubilet decided to join forces to launch a webstore and later their own branded products. The duo also partnered with U.S. factories who employ blind and visually impaired people. 

“We wanted to create value locally,” says Doubilet. The National Industry For The Blind powered initiative employs 12 people to make Susty’s line of colorful compostable tableware in the USA, unlike lots of other compostable tableware, which is imported from overseas. Last year, Doubilet and Hosley, who were named in FORBES’ 2014 30 under 30 list , won a $40,ooo award for social impact from the Hitachi Foundation, allowing them to expand and continue to create jobs for the blind.

Susty was self-funded and bootstrapped for four years. Expenses were low at first as they were just running an online store, but after a nerve wracking meeting with Whole Foods in 2012 Susty got placed in stores at first regionally but then nationally last year. They began expanding their own designs and hunting down new materials. They’ve recently launched the world’s first biodegradable plastic tablecloth, says Doubilet. To keep up momentum and increase research and development into innovative materials like tapioca starch, Susty closed at $500,000 seed round led by Radicle Capital , an investor focused on early stage sustainable companies.

“We’ve launched a ton of new products,” says Holsey. Sales have jumped from $500,000 in 2012 to $1.2 million in 2013, she added. The deal with Whole Foods came about because the supermarket is running an initiative that supports millenial social entrepreneurs, says Doubilet. “The meeting with Whole Foods was the start of launching our own brand,” she says. “They’ve been a dream partner,” providing mentorship and guidance. So too have United Natural Foods, Inc. a national distributor of all things to do with organic food and packaging.

Another key advisor is Julie Bell, a Partner at San Francisco Equity Partners. Bell’s portfolio company, Method Products, which makes naturally-derived, biodegradable household cleaners, laundry detergents and soaps merged with Belgian firm Ecover to create a $200 million company in 2012. “She sees a lot of similarity,” says Doubilet. “It’s approaching a product that might seem boring or stale and thinking, let’s make this a really fun experience and good for environment and community as well.”

So far, so sunny but dangers lurk. Susty’s products are still much more expensive than their plastic equivalents. A box of their wooden cutlery is $8.99 for 50 vs Dixie’s $4.99 for 100 price point. Also, some of the products can only be broken down through industrial composting, an option only really accessible in a few cities like Portland, Seattle and San Francisco (although Doubilet thinks a change in legislation will make curbside composting pickup a reality in NYC soon too).It’s hard to know what would happen if one of the plastic giants started offering a viable compostable alternative themselves at a much lower premium. But Doubilet and Holsey remain upbeat, determined to party on. They’re  gearing up to appear on Shark Tank on April 4th determined to bring Susty Party to the attention of millions of Americans in time for picnic season.

Source: Forbes Business

 
Update
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6 weeks ago

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Jun 9 2014 7:54am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

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KUALA LUMPUR: About RM47 million of contributions in the Teachers Provident Fund (KWSG) still remain unclaimed, the Dewan Rakyat ...
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Update
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6 weeks ago

Gold shop lost almost RM1mil

Jun 9 2014 3:50am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

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6 weeks ago

Motion to debate MAS losses in Dewan Rakyat rejected

Jun 9 2014 3:39am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

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KUALA LUMPUR: AN emergency motion to debate the losses incurred by Malaysia Airlines last year, amounting to RM1.2 billion was rejected by the Dewan R ...
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Update
7

6 weeks ago

MH370 Tragedy: Hisham: RM27.6 mil spent on 1st phase of SAR

Jun 9 2014 2:11am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia spent some RM27.6 million in its first phase of the search operations for missing Malaysia Airline flight MH370, said Acting Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammud ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
6

6 weeks ago

9.1m litres of diesel seized in a month

Jun 8 2014 1:11am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

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PUTRAJAYA: The Domestic Trade, Cooperatives, and Consumerism ministry has seized some 9.1 million litres of diesel and property worth RM58 million since mounting ‘Operasi Diesel Selatan’ in the southern states las ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
5

7 weeks ago

Girl, 9, awarded RM2.78m compensation for medical negligence

Jun 6 2014 4:56am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

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KUALA LUMPUR: A nine-year-old girl who suffered brain damage during her birth at a government hospital was awarded over RM2.78 ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
4

7 weeks ago

Malaysia's total trade in April up 12pc

Jun 5 2014 11:52pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's total trade in April 2014 rose by 12 per cent from a year ago to RM123.86 billion due to growing trading activities, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri M ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
3

7 weeks ago

Works Ministry to spend RM20m for upgrading works at 50 accident black spots

Jun 4 2014 11:35pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

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JOHOR BARU: The Works Ministry will implement upgrading works at 50 accident prone locations in the country that have been identified this year involving an a ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
2

7 weeks ago

Najib launches loan scheme for Ramadan traders

Jun 4 2014 10:24pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

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PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today launches RM45 million Ramadan ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
1

7 weeks ago

Residents bring up objection against Kidex to Suhakam

Jun 4 2014 4:49am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PETALING JAYA: A group of 20 Petaling Jaya residents held a meeting with the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) over their objection against the proposed RM2.2 billion Kinrara D ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 

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