Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Abigail Forsyth, Co-Founder & Managing Director of KeepCup

Abigail Forsyth is the co-founder & managing director of KeepCup, the world’s first barista standard reusable coffee cup.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I began my career as a solicitor at a Melbourne law firm, before my brother Jamie and I took the leap together to set up our own cafes across the city of Melbourne.

During that period of running Bluebag, we became alarmed by the amount of disposable packaging being wasted, and we started the search for a more sustainable and environmentally conscious way to serve food.

Failing to find a suitable solution the KeepCup concept was born. I am now the Co-Founder and Managing Director of KeepCup, the world’s first barista standard reusable coffee cup.

2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

Operating a mission driven business with a product at the heart of what we do here at KeepCup means that no two days are ever the same for me – and I love that about my role.

Our current focus is an upcoming product launch so I’ll often be meeting with our manufacturers and suppliers working on new product concepts and deliveries, testing and trialling new components and parts.

Or I can be in the detail of Marketing in preparation for our launch plan to market, and supporting the Sales team with their sell in of the range.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

Yes absolutely. With the impact of COVID-19, our business has had to adjust swiftly to remote working.

For almost two years our team has been operating largely from home, apart from our warehouse and operations team who keep the day-to-day servicing of product send outs to our B2B and B2C customers running.

With breaks in lockdown we have also encouraged staff to return to the office as and when they feel comfortable. Whilst my role is flexible, I do live close by to the office and am often in for meetings and managing the team.

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

Does it exist? We absolutely strive as a business to instil a positive work-life balance for our team members, and I think we do a pretty good job of that, with support particularly during these tough lockdown times in Melbourne.

I’m never not thinking of the business and ideas and concepts can come to me at any time – during or outside of ‘work hours’. Having said that, down time with family, walking the dog or a yoga class and catching up with friends (online for now), always helps to clear the mind and give me a fresh perspective.

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

Sure have! No international travel has meant I have been unable to visit trade shows and customers globally as well as our UK office.

Having the whole team working remotely has seen a huge shift in routines. I think we have done well with the transition and upkeep of WFH however it has required more discipline around meetings and catch ups – it really slows things down not to just be able to ask a quick question and move on!

On a positive note, I have done more exercise and slowed right down – I’m not sure I will be able to fit my old life back in – or want to!

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

I love listening to podcasts and audiobooks while out walking – right now I’m listening to Thinking in Systems by Donella Meadows, finding it inspirational to drive our business mission.

For books, I just finished Ken Follett’s Century Trilogy – good to get a bit of historical perspective on social change and the individual actions that drive it.

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

Well my KeepCup or course, and I’m loving the road testing I’m doing on our new product range launching later this year. Aside from that, not much really, I’m a person of pretty simple needs and ambitions!

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?

Perhaps it’s my age, but I find the more challenging question is how do you balance abundance, creativity and joy with the urgent and impending doom of biodiversity collapse and climate change. I’d be curious to hear how Kelly O’Shanassy, Chief Executive of the Australian Conservation Foundation does it!

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

The lockdown here in Melbourne has been difficult for the business, however has provided a wonderful personal opportunity to reconnect with health, family and home at a different pace and intensity level. Personally, for me it’s about connecting my day to day with the things that move me – more time outside, more time to think and more time with my husband and kids.

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.