Understanding the soul behind SoL: The back story.
In the iconic Sydney beachside suburb of Bondi, we decided to transform a recurring problem into a real life solution, so we created Australia’s most health-conscious and seriously sexy reusable glass. Health – both physical and mental – is vitally important to myself and my family, and SoL Cups tick all of our wellbeing and sustainability boxes. They’re a hand-blown, chemical-free and infinitely reusable solution for an on-the-go coffee companion that will give you all the taste, with none of the waste. SoL Cups are a practical product with a playful heart – our logo symbolises the sun (‘sol’ in Spanish) and our signature zigzag pattern reflects the ocean waves of our beautiful hometown beach, where we pursue an active, outdoor lifestyle.
SoL Cups’ Managing Director, Rebecca Veksler, gives us the lowdown on the story behind Australia’s coolest ‘take anywhere’ glass …
Why did you create SoL Cups?
“Over the years myself and my family have faced numerous health challenges, mainly around autoimmune disease.
This year has definitely been a journey, as I was personally diagnosed and went through a pretty serious episode, from this, learning to completely re-structure my lifestyle, recover and better understand Auto-immune diseases on a very personal level, We’ve done in-depth research about the harmful impact the use of plastics has on the human body and environment, and we want to share our passion for wellbeing with as many people as possible”.
I was working as a personal trainer at the time and always struggled to find a solution to taking a glass from home with my coffee or tea in it, and obviously it caused a few spillage problems. I found a few other cups on the market but they were either made of plastic, which i definitely didn’t want, or they were too heavy and didn’t look that great. I wanted a holistic solution – something health conscious, good for the environment and that also looked good, so I designed our own!”
SoL Cups are more than just a practical product though – you can clearly see Rebecca’s bright, bubbly and super positive personality injected in to the design of the glasses themselves – their logo symbolises the sun (‘sol’ in Spanish) and the signature zigzag pattern reflects the ocean waves of her beautiful hometown beach. They make you happy just looking at them, which was one of Rebecca’s aims.
She founded her company on the foundation of a strong business culture, which comes down to four factors: Happiness (the experience you feel either meeting or working with one of the team members or using the glass); Health (the reason they do what they do – the chemical and toxin-free aspect); Sustainability (the manufacturing process, being eco-friendly, environmentally conscious and minimising their carbon footprint); and Beauty (the way the product looks and the aesthetic of their branding). The SoL Cups product she created from scratch ticks all of these boxes. They’re a hand-blown, chemical-free and infinitely reusable solution for an on-the-go coffee companion that gives users perfect taste and a sense of joy.
According to Rebecca, the essence of the company is experience.
“Everything we do, everyone we talk to, everything we touch – we want people to walk away feeling like they’ve experienced something special, whether that’s building a relationship or actually using the product,” she says
.From a functional point of view, Rebecca designed SoL Cups to keep beverages tasting exactly the way they are made, unlike plastic cups that can not only affect the way drinks taste, but leach harmful chemicals into it as well – a side effect that nobody wants. “One of the most valuable differences in SoL Cups is the love and passion behind our brand. It’s all in the experience – the little extra details we’ve put in to make you fall in love with your SoL Cup. The weight and clarity of the glass, the ‘no spill’ lid, as well as the waterproof eco bag that provides you with a hassle free solution so you can pop them in your bag and not worry about the inside of your bag”.
Rebecca has worked across several different areas in her career, describing herself as becoming “passionate with idea of business development”, to the point that while she was still a personal trainer she started helping other trainers, boot camps and small gyms develop their business models and make their business grow. From there, she started her first business, centred around her passion for mental and physical health and wellbeing in the workplace. She spoke at high schools and universities, sharing and educating as much as she could, and also delivering fitness workshops on the side. Rebecca also worked closely with her brother, David, in his commercial kitchen fit-out company Guru Projects and watched him grow it from the ground up, into a flourishing business.
Outside of SoL Cups, Rebecca is still involved in a business organisation, as well as being the youngest board member on the Bondi Chambers of Commerce, she is mentoring other people in their start-up process. The first piece of advice she gives anybody is to understand why they do what they do, in its simplest form, and what problem are they solving.
“If you can refine that to its essence and passionately connect to why you are creating this company in the first place, then selling the service to your customers isn’t work anymore. People aren’t buying what you do, they’re buying why you’re doing it and the problem you are solving”
Her most valuable lesson in business has been how important communication is.
“Working for a range of other people in the past, I’ve seen how it can all go wrong,” she explains. “Our values as we build this business are about connecting, not just with our clients and customers, but building really strong teams and relationships within the company. We’re very forward-thinking when it comes to business structures, and we really want to make every step of the way with our team as connected as possible.”
Embracing downtime and allowing herself to pursue the outdoor lifestyle she loves is also imperative. “There’s freedom in running your own business, but that comes down to how organised you are as a person. I’m very passionate about system management and building processes, and my freedom and my rest time is so vital to my health. I’ve been through so many burnouts and crashes and now learning to manage an auto-immune disease that has left me in chronic join pain– if I don’t have that balance and time off then I can’t function at 100%,” she says. “It comes down to understanding your business, refining your services and business model, and working smart to create efficient systems so that you can actually step away sometimes and not stress or have to be on top of everybody.”
This relaxed but in-control attitude will be increasingly important as the company plans its expansion. Currently setting up their Sydney and Melbourne teams, they will soon be across Australia and are determined to go international in 2017, getting into the important American and European markets to spread their message of health.
“We want people to resonate with who we are, not necessarily what we sell. As we roll out other products and other lines and ideas, we want people to connect with the SoL name, not just the glasses. We’re definitely a face-to-face business.
Rebecca’s own active lifestyle, which is also toxin and chemical-free, gels perfectly with the SoL business culture. “Any chance I get, I’m moving around, preferably outdoors. I don’t like to be in the office in general, so if I do have some time off you will most likely find me down at Bondi spending time with family and friends and doing things that are mindful, positive and make me feel good.”
Rebecca has determinedly and successfully built her business with a purpose, and produced a beautifully designed and useful product with a playful heart, so we can all use it to enjoy life … one glass at a time.
Interviewed by Sarah Halfpenny.