ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A mother-daughter team opened the doors to their new business in Rochester Tuesday, all in a mission to take on the world — one paper straw at a time.
Like many out there, Kathryn and Karrie Laughton found themselves in a love-hate relationship with paper straws. So they decided to start their own company to make straws better.
It’s called Roc Paper Straws and according to its founders, it’s one of a handful paper straw manufacturers in the United States, and the only one in New York State and the northeast.
“Making the switch from plastic straws to paper has been hitting the headlines for some time and since much of the focus has been the bar and restaurant industry, I have been paying close attention,” said Karrie.
Karrie is also the owner of Lux Lounge, a popular and long-standing bar, located in Rochester’s trendy South Wedge neighborhood. She and her customers use a lot of straws, but they get “soggy,” and “fall apart.” Now the question becomes how do you make straws more durable?
The available options were either not easy to get a hold of or did not satisfy Karrie’s standards for strength. So she enlisted her mother Kathryn’s help and after three years of planning, and almost $3 million toward equipment and a 10,000 sq. ft. manufacturing space, the two had the answer.
“To prevent the biggest complaint amongst consumers we use top quality materials including a thicker grade paper that will not disintegrate as quickly, and food-grade glue and dyes,” Karrie said.
Despite just opening, the new business has grown its customer base to more than 20 Rochester-area stores including Abundance, Bodega on Park, Crisp, Dacha46, Dicky’s, Fiorella, Good Times Café, Happy Earth Tea, Historic Houseparts, Iron Smoke Distillery, Johns Tex Mex, Petit Poutinerie, Lux Lounge, Radio Social, Roc City Ramen, Salty, The Night Drop, The Spirit Room, The Union Tavern, and Voula’s.
Each paper straw is manufactured using custom-designed high-quality, eco-friendly paper that is marine-safe, biodegradable and compostable.
The current product line offers custom-branded straws with customer logos and includes wrapped and unwrapped, solid white, solid black and an array of standard color striped paper straws.
Karrie and Kathryn currently employ eight people and say they hope to hire more.
Roc Paper Straws is located at 920 Exchange Street. The factory story is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
To find more about how the company works, visit the group’s webpage here.