Women On The Edge: Emily Doubilet and Jessica Holsey

01/14/2015 8:40 AM |
Photo via Hailey Hayman

Emily Doubilet and Jessica Holsey
Co-Founders of Susty Party

So now that you’re (presumably), a responsible and eco-minded adult, how about forgoing those frat-ready red Solo cups when you’re prepping for your next get-together? Instead, stock up on compostable, sustainable, disposable, and seriously attractive tableware from Susty Party, made in non-profit factories which employ and empower the visually impaired community. “While there are disposable products that come in fun prints and colors, and others made with pro-environmental practices, Susty is the only matching set of disposable tableware that combines sustainability, social impact and style,” says owner Emily Doubilet, who holds an environmental studies degree from Oberlin College, and founded the company with Jessica Holsey, a former finance professional and Harvard grad. “Plus, our products are super sturdy, heavy duty, oven safe and home compostable. And because they’re made in North America from renewable resources that are non-toxic and FDA food contact approved, all Susty products are crafted with detailed attention to quality and design.” It’s a winning formula that actually piqued the interest of potential investors on ABC’s Shark Tank, although the savvy duo wound up turning down Kevin O’Leary’s (AKA, Mr. Wonderful) $250,000 offer. “We ended up closing our first funding round just a few weeks after filming, with mission-aligned and experienced industry investors,” says Doubilet. “And the full round was over five times greater in valuation, with nearly twice the funding as proffered by Mr. Wonderful.” It’s enough to make any other would-be businesswoman weak in the knees, but Doubilet isn’t above hero-worshipping other kick-ass entrepreneurs, especially Theranos’ Elizabeth Holmes, who founded the privately held health technology and medical laboratory services company. “I have a bit of a business crush on her right now. What she’s done with is beyond impressive within an old-school healthcare industry that desperately needs innovation,” raves Doubilet. “Plus, the fact that she operated in stealth mode for years and then busted out of nowhere as the youngest female self-made billionaire? Baller status.” And while Doubilet affirms that breaking through the glass ceiling remains especially tough for females (especially within the retail and disposables industry), she maintains that it’s well worth taking the initiative and putting yourself out there. “Never underestimate the power of relationships. If you foster connections based on genuine care, authenticity and trust, it will take you a long way,” advises Doubilet. “And never underestimate the power of picking up the phone. It’s much more powerful than emailing. From researching sensitive information, to starting a business relationship, to staying on the cutting edge of innovation, you need to talk to the right people and get in front of them in person if possible. Don’t hide behind a computer! And don’t be scared to make cold calls. That’s how I got started.”