It all started in 1988 when Abigail Forsyth and her brother owned a cafe in Melbourne. They were becoming increasingly concerned about the volume of packaging waste their business and their customers were consuming.
At the time, there were no standard reusable cups that would fit commercial coffee machines and were well designed. Forsyth decided that it was up to her to do something about it and she set about embarking on creating a standardised and sustainable reusable cup. However, like all startups, they encountered some difficult setbacks. In 2008 their first production run had a major design flaw, with leaky cups that were too hot to handle. It took two years, the help of design professionals and their mission to create an industry standard reusable cup. The KeepCup would soon create a culture-shift in the way Melbournians drink their take away coffee.
We spoke with KeepCup founder Abigail Forsyth who shared with us some inspiring lessons on how she overcomes roadblocks and the goals she has for KeepCup in 2018.
What is your role at Keep Cup and what does your day look like?
I’m the managing director at KeepCup, so my role is quite varied – there’s no such thing as a typical day! This week I’ve been playing undercover boss in the Melbourne warehouse, helping our packing teams. Getting stuck in and working side-by-side with the different departments is a great way to understand more about where we can make efficiencies and improve the customer experience.
What habits are you currently working on developing?
Always my work in progress is juggling work and home, both in terms of physical presence and headspace. To be fully present in my work and home life is my measure of success.
How do you set goals?
We have broad business goals and targets that we set annually, which allow us to be nimble enough as an organisation to respond to opportunities and new ideas.
What do you do when you hit a roadblock or things aren’t going as planned?
With big business decisions, I need to give myself space. I map out the solution, walk away and let it bubble away at the back of my mind before I come back to it. I also talk through my ideas – I’m lucky to have a number of people around me who are good sounding boards. Back away, bide your time and wait for an opportunity. As I’ve aged, I have grown to show more caution around being reactionary to situations.
Who or what are you inspired by?
My family – my husband, my brothers, my parents, my children. The fantastic team at KeepCup.
What is your favourite quote or saying?
My favourite saying is from my grandmother. She would always say “no surrender”. She’d use it in any context! Don’t surrender your values, and work to find an outcome that win-win.
Is there a tool, piece of tech or app you are loving right now?
I love Slack – we use it across the business and it’s had an incredible impact. We have offices in Melbourne, London and Los Angeles, and with a team working across time zones, Slack has given us access to having instant, informal conversations and keeping people connected with what is going on across the business.
Tell us about one of the goals you’re working towards in 2018
One of my goals is increasing KeepCup’s capacity while still holding true to our values. In recent years, we’ve grown so much and have expanded our range to cover the different ways people enjoy coffee around the world.
However, our HQ is still in Fitzroy, Melbourne, and our commitment to sustainability remains the same today as when we first started out. We continue to drive a positive campaign that encourages people to reuse and we make products that enable people to make effective, sustainable changes in their day-to-day lives.