Meet the Woman Who Made Stanley Cups Huge

Ashlee LeSueur Stanley Cup Interview
Photo Illustration: Aly Lim
Photo Illustration: Aly Lim

Ashlee LeSueur always knew Stanley cups would become a phenomenon. "It's wild, but not surprising," the influencer, who's been largely credited for the tumbler's craze, tells POPSUGAR. "The waitlist for Stanley cups has been over 30,000 people strong since 2021, and before then, there was not another hydration solution on the market."

To be fair, the world was not deprived of reusable water bottles, but something about the Stanley cup captured people's (and TikTok's) hearts. So much so that in January, fans camped outside Target stores to snag the brand's Valentine's Day limited-edition cups, fighting tooth and nail to get their hands on a hot pink tumbler. "We expected this, but we did not expect grown women fighting over a cup," the 44-year-old says.

But before the viral sensation, LeSueur went to bat for the cup's existence.

She discovered the tumbler in 2017 and knew it was special. "It's a unicorn," she says. It fits in a cup holder, there's a handle and straw, it's dishwasher safe, and it keeps things cold for over a day. LeSueur and her co-founders Taylor Cannon and Linley Hutchinson, who together run the beloved Instagram account, The Buy Guide, began posting about the cup and everyone loved it.

The Buy Guide team in Seattle for meetings at Stanley corporate offices in November 2021. From left to right, Linley Hutchinson, Ashlee LeSueur, and Taylor Cannon.
Photo Illustration: Aly Lim

Then, in 2019, Stanley halted production with no plan to restock. "We were devastated, so we kept tagging Stanley on Instagram and reaching out to the company," LeSueur tells POPSUGAR. Luckily, The Buy Guide had previously gifted a Stanley to Emily Maynard, who posted about the cup and tagged the account. A Stanley employee saw the post and DMed The Buy Guide.

With the employees help, The Buy Guide then bought 5,000 Stanley cups wholesale and sold to their followers. They sold out within five days. They bought another 5,000 cups, and this time, sold out within an hour. "We went to Stanley and told them they should bet big on this cup," LeSueur says. From there, Stanley recognized the massive potential and relaunched the cups in 2020.

Today, The Buy Guide has over 179,000 loyal followers and Stanley jumped in revenue from $74 million in 2019 to $750 million in 2023 — in part thanks to LeSueur's influence. Below, we ask LeSueur even more questions about the Stanley cup and what she thinks the next big thing may be.

POPSUGAR: How many Stanley cups do you have?

Ashlee LeSueur: Three. I really don't need more than that.

PS: When you're vetting products for the Buy Guide, what's the top criteria that makes something Buy Guide-able?

AL: Our favorite products are products that solve problems. For example, I love the Geometry House Tea Towels ($17) because they actually do their job. Dish towels aren't necessarily exciting, but these ones are big, absorbent, and wash and dry well. Shockingly, there's a lot of really cute dish towels that are terrible at absorbing or get wrinkly when you wash them. But I also just like things and products that make life more beautiful and fun.

PS: My mom and I love your content. How do you connect with your audience across different generations and backgrounds?

AL: It's really helpful that there's three of us running the account. We're all different ages, we have kids of different ages, we have different budgets and different lifestyles, and we live in different places. This naturally allows us to reach a wide variety of people.

PS: What are three words to describe yourself?

AL: Resourceful, practical, and feeler. I'm a softy.

"We went to Stanley and told them they should bet big on this cup."

PS: What products are you really into right now?

AL: I'm really loving the Mega Sweatpants ($75) from Aritzia. Whenever I know I'll be home all day, that's what I'm wearing. I'm also currently testing for the glowiest daily sunscreen. I don't have a winner yet, but I have 12 that I'm trying because on days I don't want to wear makeup, I just want to put on a sunscreen that gives me that really glowy look.

PS: Now I need to know...what's the top contender so far?

AL: The Sun Bum Glow Sunscreen ($15) is really good.

PS: Shifting gears, but in the era of "dupes" what is worth investing in and what is dupe worthy?

AL: Trendier items are always dupe worthy. It's fun to follow a trend, but it's not something you need to invest in because it might not be here to stay. A great pair of jeans and a timeless coat are worth the investment. They'll last for years. I don't love to spend a lot of money on clothes, but price per wear is how I justify it. Girl math, right?

PS: Speaking of trends, what are the current trends you're loving?

AL: I'm really into the pop of color socks. It's super fun and easy for everyone to wear. And you don't need to spend a ton of money on a pair of colorful socks. You can totally buy them on Amazon.

PS: Any current trends you're not loving?

AL: This might be an unpopular opinion, but I'm not totally on board with the mesh shoes. It's a personal opinion, but I'm not trying to draw attention to feet.

PS: Last but not least, what are three items you always carry in your purse?

AL: Summer Fridays Vanilla Lip Butter Balm ($24), on-the-go flossers, and my AirPods.