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The woman behind the Stanley Quencher's meteoric rise said she had to beg the company's executives to market to women

Erin Snodgrass   

The woman behind the Stanley Quencher's meteoric rise said she had to beg the company's executives to market to women
  • Stanley-branded drinkware is all the rage among tweens and social media influencers.
  • But the woman behind the craze for the Quencher said she had to push execs to market to women.

Stanley water bottles are having an undeniable boom in popularity, largely thanks to the cofounder of a woman-oriented shopping blog who pushed the century-old company to market their insulated travel cups directly to women.

The Stanley Quencher, a 40-ounce water bottle all the rage among teenage girls and social media influencers, has helped boost the company's profile and profits, according to an episode of the The Journal, a Wall Street Journal podcast, published last week.

Terence Reilly, president of Stanley, told the outlet that the company's revenue has increased by a thousand percent over the last three years, adding that Stanley was projected to hit $750 million in annual revenue for 2023.

Stanley-branded drinkware was among the most popular Christmas gifts for tweens this year and has even led to rifts at middle schools around the country between the haves and the have-nots.

Stanley, which long marketed itself as an outdoorsy company for campers, construction workers, and — primarily — men, first introduced the Quencher cup in 2016.

The large mug with a sizable straw, big handle, and small bottom that fits in car cup holders didn't initially sell well with Stanley's typical male customer, The Journal reported.

But a chance discovery on the shelves of a Bed, Bath, & Beyond in 2017 helped set a new course for Stanley and its now-beloved Quencher.

Ashlee LeSueur, cofounder of The Buy Guide, a shopping guide marketed toward women, told The Journal that she happened upon the giant mug, which seemed to be the solution to her ongoing search for the perfect water bottle, citing the cup's straw, size, and helpful handle.

LeSueur told the outlet that she and her two female co-founders started touting the Quencher on their site and included the cup in gift boxes they sent to online influencers.

According to The Journal, an Instagram post from one such influencer featuring the Quencher caught the eye of Stanley employee Lauren Solomon, prompting her to get in touch with The Buy Guide to find out more about their love for the cup.

Solomon ultimately helped the three women purchase 5,000 Quenchers wholesale, offering them the opportunity to resell the cups on their website and keep the profits, the outlet reported.

LeSueur said the Buy Guide sold out of Quenchers in just five days.

"Being right always feels good, right?" LeSueur told The Journal. "It's the best feeling. It was exciting. It was really exciting."

LeSueur and her partners kept buying — and selling — more Quenchers. They eventually started pushing the higher-ups at Stanley to think bigger, critiquing their approach to marketing the mugs and suggesting they focus on selling directly to women by increasing the cup's color options, according to the outlet.

"Some of the executives had a really difficult time imagining a more female-leaning color palette on the Stanley products," LeSueur told The Journal. "They had developed a very strong, very reputable brand over a hundred years."

The company eventually partnered with The Buy Guide.

Around the same time, Reilly came on as Stanley's new president and helped redefine the company's idea of its typical consumer, The Journal reported.

"I think the biggest difference when Terence came on was just that enthusiasm," LeSueur told the podcast. "He understood what was possible with these women selling to women, the viral sensation that could happen, the way organic sales works in the real world."

Reilly told Wall Street Journal reporter Callum Borchers that he envisioned the Quencher as akin to a woman's handbag in that she would own multiple cups and match her daily cup to her outfit.

Stanley soon began partnering with social media creators and brands like Starbucks and Target, releasing special versions of the cup that have sold out.

The company's marketing shift worked: Stanley cups have become major status symbols at schools, sparked a collector's mentality around the mugs, and — in at least one case — led to a Stanley cup heist.