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Meet Donna Peyton

Today we’d like to introduce you to Donna Peyton.

So, before we jump into specific questions about what you do, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Cuppa Bliss was created early one morning when I was up working at 4 am. (I work for Georgia Tech.) When my latte with extra whip cooled off too much, I heated it up in the microwave. When I removed the mug, the handle was scalding hot! I loosened my grip just enough to spill hot coffee on myself and my leather sofa.

In that moment, I said to myself, “I’ve got to find a product to wrap around my mug handle so I’ll never burn my fingers again.” However, after exhaustive research to find such a product came up empty, I decided to create it myself… and, the Cuppa Bliss was born! The product’s name truly fits because no matter what food or beverage you enjoy in your mug — coffee, tea, soup, oatmeal or a cookie in a cup — it is a Cuppa Bliss!

Cuppa Bliss is made from neoprene (think wetsuit material) with a soft nylon laminate to cushion your fingers. It is heat-tested to the boiling point, protecting your fingers from the heat of your mug handle.

And, because Cuppa Bliss comes in 2-color packs – black & teal and charcoal & steel pink – you can always differentiate your mug from another. No more picking up that coffee with five sugars when yours has none… or vice versa.

Cuppa Bliss product development began almost three years ago. I worked with my dad, a Georgia Tech mechanical engineer, until we had a prototype. By July 2018, we had product samples and were able to perform testing on various mug sizes and types. I knew it would be a tall order to choose a manufacturer, make the product, and receive inventory in time for the holidays. But, we did it! We launched the company just after Thanksgiving 2018. With targeted promotions on Instagram to drive traffic to our website, orders started to roll in. We worked with Atlanta restaurants, pastry shops, and coffee bars to promote Cuppa Bliss (and their establishments in the process) on social media. We also did a number of local pop-up shops during the month of December. It was then that we realized that Cuppa Bliss makes a great and unique stocking stuffer! I also have to give props to my daughter, Sami Schnur, Founder/CEO of The Naughty Fork (IG: @thenaughtyfork). She will never know how much she helped with the Cuppa Bliss launch!

The Cuppa Bliss demographic is split – it includes college students who heat a variety of foods & beverages in a mug; adults who enjoy cooking for one and making tasty mug recipes; and busy execs who work from home a lot, and tend to heat up their coffee, tea, etc. while they work.

In addition to our signature Mug Handle Wrap, we also sell a line of elegant Cuppa Bliss coffee- and wine-themed coasters.

Cuppa Bliss will be participating in the 2020 AmericasMart shows in Atlanta. We are, of course, crossing our fingers for a deal with a big box retailer, as Cuppa Bliss is arguably the best new kitchen product. In the meantime, we love knowing that Cuppa Bliss will be saving lots of fingers from being burned on mug handles.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Let me say that entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart.

The biggest struggle with a startup is something every entrepreneur feels during the process… self-doubt. Can I make it happen? Will people like the product? How/where will I manufacture it? What if I fail? (And, these are just a few examples of things that keep you up at night.) It is incredibly important to stay positive through all of the uncertainty that will undoubtedly come your way.

For those who create a business while holding a demanding full-time job, it means that you will stay up later and wake up earlier to fit everything in. Sleep deprivation will be your new normal.

Another huge challenge is trying to “bootstrap” your startup. When you lack the funding to do everything you would do with ample funds, there are always tradeoffs. I came across two obstacles:

1) I knew I needed help writing and submitting a utility patent, but the thought of engaging a patent attorney terrified me. After some patent research, I quickly came to the realization that the risk was much greater if I tried to do it on my own and got it wrong. Through some strategic contacts, I ended up hiring an amazing firm, and that proved to be money well spent.

2) I realized I had to spend money on marketing to promote a revolutionary new product and the new Cuppa Bliss brand. However, the catch 22 was: how can I spend money on marketing when I need every dime to manufacture the product to have inventory for the launch? After much debate, I struck a balance with some IG promos and pop-up shops, which generated buzz around Cuppa Bliss, and didn’t break the bank.

Finally, I learned the importance of listening to myself and focusing on my own thoughts. Everyone will be quick to offer an opinion, and as long as you know the person has your best interest at heart, it’s good to hear them out. Ultimately, though, it is your company and you need to do what’s right for you.

Please tell us more about what you do, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
So, I am the Founder/CEO of Cuppa Bliss. Cuppa Bliss is a startup I began because I sought to explore a solution to an age-old problem: how to heat/reheat foods and beverages in your mug without burning your fingers on your mug handle. (As we know, the handle is always the hottest part.)

There were many times over the years when I had burned my fingers when reheating my coffee or tea, or making oatmeal, or heating soup, mac & cheese, rice or pasta. And, anyone who’s heated these foods even in a bowl – particularly soup, which usually requires more than 2 minutes to heat sufficiently – knows that bowls get extremely hot as well. In fact, you are usually left scrambling to find two dish towels or set of oven mitts to get the bowl out of the microwave and to the table without burning yourself.

My objective was to design a product to wrap around your mug handle so that burned fingers would be a thing of the past no matter what you were heating in your mug. We have created a remarkable product that is easy to use. It comes in a 2-color pack so you can differentiate your mug from another; has a soft, comfortable grip; cleans up easily with soap and water; and dries fast. And, the best part is you’ll never burn your fingers on your mug handle!

I am proud that the Cuppa Bliss Mug Handle Wrap achieved our objective and that we solved a problem. It is like no other product on the market, and that fact alone sets us apart from others. I’m also proud that the price point per pack is very low (2 for $10) so everyone can enjoy this revolutionary product.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I have to say tenacity is the most important characteristic to achieving success. I love the entrepreneurial process, even when things are going wrong. I love the challenge. I enjoy trying to find a different way if something isn’t working.

However, there were definitely days I had fleeting thoughts that my dream just might not happen. Silencing those thoughts was critically important. Telling myself “just keep going” and keeping the faith was absolutely essential. I reminded myself on the rough days just how far I had come on the entrepreneurial journey, and that somehow, I would figure it out if I just kept trying.

I thank my parents for instilling in me that nothing great ever comes to you without hard work and tenacity. And, in the next phase, I am looking forward to helping other entrepreneurs realize their dreams.

Pricing:

  • Cuppa Bliss Mug Handle Wrap (2-color pack) – $10
  • Cuppa Bliss Coffee Coasters (set of 4) – $15
  • Cuppa Bliss Wine Coasters (set of 4) – $15

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
All photos were shot by @cuppabliss / Donna Peyton

Getting in touch: VoyageATL is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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