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Emma Rose Cohen | New Mexico | Sustainable Alternatives!

I am the CEO and founder of Final, the company that created FinalStraw—the world’s first reusable, collapsible straw that raised nearly $2 million on Kickstarter. Today I am a STRAW-PRENEUR but in my former life I was definitely a mermaid. My journey to living a more sustainable life began as a college student at UCSB where my friends and I would grab our shell bras and mermaid tails and lead beach clean-ups. Following graduation, I believed I had landed my dream job in waste minimization at Los Alamos National Laboratory however, in reality, I found myself drowning in a sea of government issued trash. I decided to leave the Lab and live life as a ski bum for a year. At the same time I began working on FinalStraw as a side project. When I find something I love, I dive deep and give it every part of myself. As such, FinalStraw consumed my life and I barely hit the slopes. FinalStraw was successful thanks to a lot of hard work, quite a bit of luck, and above all the timing. It was the spring of 2018 and the now infamous video of the turtle with a straw stuck in its nostril went viral. The media was hyper-focused on highlighting the negative effects of single-use plastic straws.

I continue to lead Final’s entirely remote team as we develop an entire line of Foreverables™ - items designed to replace single-use plastic and last forever. Final launched its second product, FinalWipe, on Kickstarter in March 2020 and has plans to release several additional products, including FinalFork and FinalSpork, later in the year.

What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?

The company took off almost overnight. It felt like we were headed for space on a rocketship that was halfway built and we didn’t have an instruction manual! We hired help immediately to keep pace with demand and that was perhaps our biggest mistake. It took some time to learn that the best approach in hiring is to slow down and give very careful consideration when bringing new people onto the team.

What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?

I have always believed that waste is just a design flaw. FinalStraw is the catalyst through which I am finally able to share my personal mission and realize my dream of fixing the issue by raising awareness and by providing a solution to the problem.

What advice would you give to an upcoming entrepreneur locally and internationally?

One piece of advice I constantly need to remind myself of is--slow down to speed up. When things seem to be moving too fast we always bring it back to our mission: to create sustainable alternatives to single-use plastic so we can empower people with the tools they need to reduce their single-use waste.

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