Susty Party President Jessica Holsey Is Taking Her Sustainable Party To The General Market
When Jessica Holsey gave up a promising career on Wall Street, many thought the twenty-something was having a quarter-life crisis. And when she said she was going to help make sustainable party products they were convinced of it. But the risk has proven well worth it. Forbes recently named Holsey, 29, and her partner Emily Doubilet, 29, in their annual “30 Under 30” listing.
Today, Susty Party is a fast-growing company. Based in Brooklyn, it makes fun, stylish yet eco-friendly party supplies and compostable tableware. Holsey acts as president and Doubilet is founder. They also partner with non-profits.
Holsey, who graduated from Harvard, tells MademeNoire how she moved into entrepreneurship.
MadameNoire: How did you get involved in the sustainable products industry?
Jessica Holsey: I started out in college working for as an analyst at Credit Suisse on Wall Street. And after two years I wanted to do something more entrepreneurial. I went to visit friends in California and they were into online ventures that were socially responsible and also performed well financially. I knew then I wanted to do something socially entrepreneurial. Then when I came back home I met Emily, ironically, at a party and she had just stated a website called Sustainable Party that sold socially responsible party products. I really liked her and the website–and I really like parties–so I quit my job and joined her.
MN: That must have been a big risk, leaving a Wall Street job to join a startup?
JH: Yeah, a lot of people didn’t understand why I would leave a very secure, well-paying job. But I like to have fun and I can also make a difference. Parties produce a lot of waste and if I can help lessen the impact of parties on the environment, it is worth it. That was at the end of 2009, and the company has grown a great deal since.
MN: What has spurred the growth?
JH: We used to just sell other people’s products. But it was hard to find great-looking items. We would look all over the world. But most of the pieces that were eco-friendly came in plain brown and white. We wanted colorful, fun products. So we decided to produce them ourselves. That was in 2012, and since we introduced our own products we’ve grown very rapidly.
MN: How much has Susty Party grown?
JH: When we started out we were using one room in my apartment in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Now we have an office in Greenpoint and eight employees including ourselves. It has been an incredible few years.
MN: Why Brooklyn?
JH: Brooklyn has a great energy. And the area we are in there are many other natural products companies and we get together, share resources and help each other out. It’s really awesome.
MN: What are some of the goals for 2014?
JH: Well, we just expanded our product line to include plates, bowls, straws, and other items. For this year we want to continue to expand in the natural arena. We are already in 300 Whole Foods and 600 natural products stores total. We also want to branch off into the general market.
MN: How will you convince people who aren’t into eco-friendly products to buy yours?
JH: We like to think our products stand on their own. They’re fun and stylish. I think that we make awesome products. They are made entirely in the U.S.out of non-toxic, renewable, reusable materials.
MN: So no regrets in leaving Wall Street?
JH: No regrets (laughs). Actually I have kept in touch with many people from my old company, and my old boss is on our board of advisors. I left on really good terms, plus the skills I learned on that job have helped me with Susty Party. Skills like forecasting. You know, at that job I had to analyze a lot of companies and it is really easy to get the entrepreneurial itch and say “I can do that too!” And I guess I did.