Reusable Cup Holder Success Made Possible Thanks To Women's Support

by Kate Stewart

Award Recognition

I was recently overjoyed to find out my little reusable 4 cup holder, Stay tray, was awarded the Best Sustainable Product at the 2020 Roar Success Awards in Port Fairy. ROAR Success, the amazing organisation behind the Roar Awards, was started back in 2017 by Danielle Stearman. With a handful of ideas Danielle was determined to put together a business that would serve as a platform for business owners to help them grow and celebrate the true meaning of their businesses, not just the typical metrics so many are measured by.

Anita East’s Medi Spa won the 2020 Roar Award for Making a Difference for her personalised treatments for women’s beautiful faces and Anna Sayring won an Award for Best Product Innovation for Milk Mate. Milk Mate is a fantastic business who understands that everybody’s breast feeding journey is different, their products help women and their little milk mates to have the best experience possible.

It is so heart-warming to receive an award for Stay tray from people I have never met before. It so great to get some recognition for my little recycled plastic cup holder, it really makes my day. It feels like all the hard work I have put in over the past three years is starting to pay off. So many late nights and weekends, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am no longer travelling an hour and half each way to my corporate role in Melbourne. I can’t believe I used to leave at 5:30am and if I was lucky I would be home by 7:00pm, just in time to read my young children a bed time story. The weekends were great but it wasn’t enough. It was time for a change.

Stay tray Reusable Cup Holder

Now I work from my kitchen table. Stay tray’s fill my kids cupboards, packing materials spew from my kitchen and laundry draws and lets not even talk about how rammed my garage is with everything from Stay trays to kids bikes and surfboards, paddleboards and boxes. No chance of fitting the car in".

Establishing Support Networks

I have always had a support network of close girlfriends. It was my closest girlfriends who I turned to, over many a morning coffee, when I first had the idea for a recycled plastic 4 cup holder. A sense check I guess you would say. I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t raving mad and that my idea, my leap of faith, wasn’t going to be a massive failure. We would always meet at a coffee shop near me.

"Do you think this is a good idea I asked them? Would it be something that you would buy?"

When they told me they thought it was a great idea, that was when the hard work began. I really didn’t know where to begin my journey. On one hand I was eager to dive in and get started, but on the other I was so nervous and overwhelmed at the enormity of starting my own business. I knew I had so much to learn but I didn’t really know where to start. 

I spent a lot of time at my local coffee house on the computer and really should have taken up some shares in google, that’s how much I was searching in those first few months. Could I source a great cup holder that was already out there in the world? Should I design my own drink tray from recycled plastic? If so how do I go about this? Was there great people right here in Australia and even in my home town of Melbourne who could help me? Could I ensure my business is Australian made and owned? What should I call my business? How do I develop a logo and go about designing a website? My head was spinning all day, everyday!

So I started with Mia Freedman’s Lady Start Ups. I enrolled in the Lady Start Up Activation Plan and away I went. I got my business idea nailed down. I registered my business name and started to develop an amazing brand for Stay tray with a logo, brand board and brand story. I began developing my website and made a list of amazing and inspiring women who could help get my little business off the ground. I developed an initial marketing plan outlining who my customers were and how I was going to find them. I joined the Lady Start Up Community and talked to like minded women for hours about their ideas, their lives, their journeys and their businesses.

I have met a lot of strong women and mentors in my corporate role of 17 years. Many who I have stayed friends with over the years. Once I had 85% of my Stay tray business nailed down, it was these women I turned too to give me advice and guidance. I asked these incredible ladies

“Where are the holes in my business plan? What have I missed? Who should I be talking too?”

One of these incredible women is my good friend Renee Giarrusso. Renee is Australia's leading specialist in accelerating and energising Limitless Leaders, Teams and Organisations. I was recently interviewed by Renee, at a cafe nearby, for ‘The Gift of Curiosity’ chapter in Renee’s soon to be completed book. Such a great experience for me.

We discussed Stay tray’s inception and how the choices we make contribute to how we bring to life the things that we are curious about. How a curious mindset sets us up to explore and innovate and look at possibilities with an open mind.

We also discussed how gratitude and many other skills make up resilience and how curiosity is a key one. If we are willing to have an open mind and think differently, questioning and trying new things can layer into our resilience and the way in which we face and approach opportunities and challenges.

Another amazing woman I have met along my journey is Felicity Ford, Managing Director of UpperCup. UpperCup design and make beautiful reusable coffee cups and drink bottles right here in Australia, ensuring they are sustainable, ethical in their supply chain and truly Australian made and owned.  Over the past few years Felicity has been an invaluable supporter of my business and a fellow advocate for Australian Made.

Stay tray Reusable Drinks Tray

Ensuring long-term Success

My success to date has been a result of a lot of hard work and determination. I wanted a better life for myself and my family. The best version of my life where I could spend as much time with my young kids as I could. You only have young kids once right?

Just as important as the hard work and determination, has been making and developing lasting, meaningful relationships with other women in business. I have learnt that while it is my own business, there are dozens of strong, capable and extremely knowledgeable women standing beside and behind me, and all women who run their own businesses.

Reusable Cup Holder

When you are first starting out, and even when your business is up and running for that matter. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice. Set up your support network. Regularly catch up for a morning coffee, delicious smoothie or lunch and discuss your businesses. Join a social or business networking group. You won’t regret it, it has been the most important and invaluable thing I have done.

In my experience I have found that most women are more than willing to help another woman chasing their dreams.

“Go get it!”