1.Tell us about yourself and your company FarfromBoring Hospitality.
My name is Robert Stillman and I am the CEO of FarfromBoring Hospitality. I started my career in Wall Street but then decided to pursue something more creative. Marketing was always of interest, especially branding, which is where my love of promotional items began. I realized that helping companies provide useful gifts to new or existing clients, in order to obtain business would be where I would make my mark.
In 2007, I moved from New York City to Florida and opened up FarfromBoring Promotions.com LLC, in Boca Raton. My goal was to help my clients grow their brand. As the company started to grow, we decided to start a new venture into ecofriendly promotional products, made from recycled materials or sustainable sources. Our first campaign was with Verizon in 2008, where we helped them go paperless and in turn allowed their customers to give back! For each customer that chose paperless billing, we planted a tree in a deforested nation around the world.
I am proud to say that since FarfromBoring Promotions first started, we have acquired clients from all sectors of the hospitality industry. Yet, the most exciting moment for us was when FarfromBoring Hospitality was born. It was thanks to a dear friend, who showed me what the service industry needed and why, that we were able to create this division in our company.
- We heard you have a new initiative to create eco-friendly, reasonably-priced paper straws. Tell us about it.
It all began when my partner Dave Morrison and his wife were at dinner and were served paper straws with their drinks. Dave’s wife said that we should look into the opportunity but improve on the product that was currently on the market. The issue with paper straws at that time was that many of them fell apart or tasted horrible.
The very next day Dave, called me and told me about her idea and at that very moment my dear friend in the restaurant industry called me about purchasing paper straws. So, you can say it was meant to be. After doing some research, we found out that plastic straws are one of the worst offenders, for single use plastic products, on the market. Their devastating effects to the earth and its inhabitants are beyond compare, and worst of all the effects were being felt right here in Boca Raton. Our own marine life was helpless against what was going on.
We decided to reengineer the paper straw and address the issues that Dave’s wife had mentioned. In addition, we surveyed hospitality clients to see what they paid for paper straws that would allow them to switch from plastic. About six months later we were ready to get our paper straws on the market. Our product checked all boxes – it didn’t dissolve, tasted fine and was the lowest price on the market.
- What makes your new straws special?
The time and effort we have put into our product is what makes us different. For example, our straws have been through some very rigorous testing to make sure they last at least three hours before becoming soggy. Portions of each lot are tested on the factory floor prior to being shipped out. We also have an amazing crew that handle our quality control, FDA and Prop 65 compliance.
Our straws are also gluten free which was really not something I thought would be necessary. Until one of our clients brought it to my attention. The more we researched it we found that there is a food grade binding agent in paper straws that in many cases contains flour. Our product by specification does not and never will. Lastly, one of our favorite special features is that we can now customize them to be different colors, include unique designs and even have the wrappers or actual straws contain a brand name or logo.
- There is another component to the straws as well. Tell us about your partnership with Trees for the Future.
Of course! It’s quite simple actually. A customer can buy a case of straws and we happily plant a tree (usually more than one) in one of several different deforested areas around the world.
We have been supporting Trees for the Future for nine years now, through various eco-friendly promotions. The paper straw initiative is our biggest and most bold effort to help our planet and its inhabitants on several levels. We are eliminating plastic straws (the single worst offender of one time use plastic consumables) while planting trees, and saving the earth.
When we did our research into Trees for the Future we realized that reforestation projects in depleted areas do more than eat carbon and create oxygen. It turns out that a well-established forest will bring back birds and wildlife, create barriers for water runoff, provide underground aquafers that give fresh drinking water for humans and farming, as well as create lakes, fruits, berries and vegetables for consumption, and creates jobs for hard-working local villages! The world is truly a magnificent place and we are trying our best to help.
- What is your overall goal for this product?
To eliminate billions of plastic straws in our landfills, waterways and oceans while providing an alternative that will work for generations to come.