Galina Lang is a junior advertising major and boba enthusiast who created her own reusable bottle line called BobaMate, whose bottles can conveniently be used for both water and boba. BobaMate has been covered by news outlets like NextShark and Yahoo Lifestyle, and its Kickstarter campaign has raised over $57,000 from more than 1,100 donors. The Foghorn sat down with Galina to find out how her environmentally-friendly (and boba-lover friendly) idea came to life.
Andrea Gonzales: What inspired you to create your product?
Galina Lang: In late 2018, after I wrote a research paper on plastic pollution […] I was really just shocked by how much plastic affects the environment, wildlife, and humans. Working as a boba barista at the time and seeing a spike in people bringing their own reusable mason jars and steel straws, I was inspired to do the same. I started trying to carry mason jars and steel straws everywhere I went, but it was just so inconvenient to try and carry them with me everywhere along with my water bottle. Not only is it bulky and takes up space, but getting boba is also super spontaneous most of the time. I kept thinking that there must be a better solution for this, especially for boba tea enthusiasts that get boba three times a week. That is when I came up with the idea of combining both a reusable boba cup and a water bottle.
AG: Can you describe your whole process of actually creating the bottle and your brand?
GL: I started out by just creating tons of sketches of my ideas and market researching to see how I can make similar existing products into an even better product that is specifically for serving boba tea. After that step was done, I had to find a designer to actually make digital renderings and mock-ups of what the product would look like realistically. Luckily, I was able to find a manufacturer that had an in-house designer, which really simplified things for me. I had easy access to them and the fees were a lot more flexible. After finding that manufacturer, I just kept working with them and went through a year of creating several prototypes until we settled on our final design. For our campaign, we solely relied on social media because the product is really targeted towards young adults and college students […] Luckily, we also gained publicity through an Asian American news source called NextShark, which skyrocketed our funds and allowed us to be fully funded in five days after they released their article. We were also featured on a Singaporean news source called ZULA, Yahoo Lifestyle, and AOL. All of this publicity really helped our campaign reach its highest potential.
AG: What are your goals for this brand in the future?
GL: My main goal is to bridge sustainability with convenience, specifically with the boba tea industry. We want sustainability to be something easy for everyone to do since we are creatures of convenience and effectiveness. We want to be something that boba enthusiasts will reach for and allow them to enjoy boba in a guilt-free way.
AG: If you had one piece of advice to give someone wanting to create their own business, what would it be?
GL: First, I would tell them to have a purpose of why they want to create the product — will this solve something short-term or long-term? I would also tell them to not be afraid of doing things for the first time and to reach out to new people. In the small business realm, everyone is there to support each other. Befriend people that will support your goals, and do your best to support theirs.
BobaMate will be available for sale starting summer 2020. Follow Galina’s Instagram @MyBobaMate to stay updated.