When you start a new sustainable business, its scary and exciting at the same time. The time you put in is your own and can be somewhat unlimited. But putting in your hard-earned cash has its limits. It makes it so real.
Wow, I am really doing this?
The idea was to design a reusable drink tray to replace single use drink carriers used at every coffee shop near me, every café nearby and every fast-food restaurant across the world. It sounded like such a great idea. A massive opportunity. I wanted it to be Australian Made. It also had to be made from 100% recycled plastic. What I couldn’t decide initially though, really based on how much cash I could afford to put into the business. Was do I develop a 4 Cup Drink Tray? Or a 2 Cup Drink Tray? Or even a 8 Cup Drink Tray?
I wrestled with this for some time. I asked my husband. I asked my friends and family. I asked my local barista at the cafe nearby. I even asked the postman.
I got a real mixed bag of responses. It really was dependent on each individuals specific family situation. Some people said ‘oh no, I would never use a 4 Cup Drinks Tray. I only ever get 2 drinks. Others said “you don’t need a drink tray if you only have two drinks, you have two hands. When I sat down and really thought about it my rationale was, you can carry two, three or four drinks in a 4 Cup Drink Tray. You can only carry 2 Cups in a 2 Cup Drink Tray. A 8 Cup Drink Tray just seemed too big.
At the time I could only afford to develop one tray. Costs for the sustainable design of the tray, to develop the steel mould, to manufacture, and to develop my brand and website were all mounting up. I had to decide. A 4 Cup Drink Tray just seemed to be the logical first step.
Over the next year I designed and manufactured my 4 Cup Drink Tray. About six months later I was starting to do a lot of markets across the country. I did the Finders Keepers Market in Melbourne and Sydney. I did Life in Style in Sydney and Melbourne and I also did the Big Design Market in Melbourne.
The Big Design Market is a fabulous event which is held at the Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne. Its my favourited. I have been going for years, even before I had a Stay tray stand. It is a three-day shopping event open to the public timed right before Christmas every year. It is so easy to spend the entire day wondering the isles of over 200 independent designers. There is fashion, homewares, kids products and gifts. I think 90% of my Christmas gifts for family and friends over the past five years have been purchased from the Big Design Market.
It’s a great day out, but its also a great way to support independent designers and makers. They have wonderful food there too, and great coffee. Let’s not forget coffee!
There I was, attending my stand at the Big Design Market. Doors opened at 9am and by 9:15 I had my first customer. It was such a thrill. I had been at this market strolling around the isles for years. Now here I was with my very own stand. With my very own sustainable business. The customer was lovely and asked so many questions about my Stay tray. The first question she asked was ‘Do you have a 2 Cup Drink Tray made from Recycled Plastic?’. Unfortunately, no I said. I explained that I had used up all my savings to just develop the 4 Cup Drink Tray.
Over the next two days I got asked that same question at least another 25 times. Maybe there is something there I thought. After two long days attending the stand, I was getting really tired. On the last day my husband came up to help out. He loved it, he is such a natural people person. Just kidding. I stayed with him for the first hour of the third day. I showed him how to take payments. I also remember saying to him we need to develop a 2 Cup Drink Tray. Lots of people have been asking. He was so skeptical. Nah, he said. Why? You can carry 2 Cups in a 4 Cup Drink Tray. It doesn’t make sense. Just tell them a 4 Cup Drink Tray is more versatile. That’s what they should get.
I walked away for an hour and went at looked at all the other fabulous stands. Such great products from clothes and hats, to books, bikes and wallets. When I got back the first words out of my husband’s mouth were, ‘I think we need to develop a 2 Cup Drink Tray’. Ten people had come by and asked him in the hour I was away. Most of them perusing the 4 Cup Drink Trays, then saying ‘Do you have a 2 Cup Drink Tray. No. That’s a shame, I would buy one if you had a 2 Cup. I really don’t need a 4 Cup Tray’. It didn’t matter what he said to try and convince them that a 4 Cup was better. They wanted a 2 Cup.
The next question was how was I going to afford to develop a 2 Cup Drink Tray? At that stage Stay tray was still quite new. I had spent a small fortune. Sales were going well. But they hadn’t quite caught up to my initial investment. I was scrolling through Instagram and stopped at a post that interested me. The post was of a new reusable cup, Luxey Cup. It was on one of the accounts I followed, Zero Waste Collective. A new company at the time Luxey Cup were doing a Kickstarter Crowdfunding Campaign. Basically, Kickstarter is a US company where you set a sales goal to reach within 30 days. You then work your bum off to get your goal. It’s a all or nothing approach, if you don’t reach your target within 30 days you don’t get anything.
I followed Luxey Cup’s Kickstarter campaign really closely. At the end of their 30 days they made it! It was so exciting. Could I do this for Stay tray I thought? I really didn’t know. When my husband got home that night I said this is what we need to do. We need to run a Kickstarter Campaign to raise funds so we can develop the 2 Cup Drink Tray.