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social enterprise

Community & Circular Economy beating at the heart of Sustainable Cities

Recently I had the opportunity to speak at the National Sustainability Conference for 2020 and addressed the topic of ‘Community & Circular Economy beating at the heart of Sustainable Cities’. My focus was on communicating the vital place that the circular economy model has in our city and country’s future. I also shared insights into World’s Biggest Garage Sale’s journey so far, as well as the many lessons learned along the way. 

Founded by the Association for Sustainability in Business, the National Sustainability Conference is a wonderful platform for World’s Biggest Garage Sale and our message of creating a more sustainable future for all. Like many large-scale gatherings, the conference stepped outside the box and delivered the entirety of its event online. However, this did not stop a range of highly skilled and visionary speakers from presenting their visions and proactive plans for a brighter and cleaner future.

World’s Biggest Garage Sale was born from an overabundance of ‘stuff’. The household items no longer used or needed, relegated to a dark and dingy cupboard. Out of sight, out of mind. Sometimes people take these items to a local charity shop or ‘dare we say it’, pop them in the bin. As a society, we’re often after the fastest outcome with the least hassle. It’s precisely this behaviour that has led to approximately $43 billion worth of under utilised ‘stuff’ in Australian homes and $500 billion (USD) in lost revenue per year due to underutilisation and a lack of recycling. Our solution was to reclaim dormant goods so that we could renew their potential –  to shift from linear economy norm to a revolutionary circular model. And it all started with a question of ‘how do we solve this ‘donor fatigue’?’. 

Since then, it’s been our mission to make repurposing as easy as it can possibly be. Partnering with big corporations so that we can do the groundwork and make sure that their ‘waste’ is transformed into something much more. On a larger scale, it’s about how we as an organisation can do our small part within the big landscape of the circular economy. A buzzword we use is ‘glocal’, meaning a global focus with local heart. These partnerships between big corporation, small corporation, charity and community are so essential because no one can do this all on their own. 

Our philosophy is to execute first and then learn on the job. 

We ran our Retail Rescue popup earlier this year which saw 40 pallets of dormant goods be sorted for renewal and repurposing. Revitalising these items for resale enabled us to divert from landfill and earn a profit for charitable causes. Not only that, but it helped us to envision a scaleable version of this ‘makerspace’ in which dormant goods are regularly received and renewed to reclaim a place in the current economy. Now with our new home at the Rivermakers The Depot in Morningside, this dream is starting to become a reality.

Our vision of a circular economy shopping precinct and the sublimation of resale into retail is a concept bigger than just our organisation. We are focused on activating dormant goods in a way which creates financial viability and the creation of jobs in our community. It’s long been a belief of mine that the future of our economy is ultimately relational, not transactional. Our work is always aligned with achieving as many of the Sustainable Development Goals as possible, and it’s exciting to these become part of the vernacular.

Social connections are an important part of our growth – it’s not ‘us’ and them’ but ‘us’ and ‘we’. 

If you’re equally passionate about a circular economy future or are interested in further education about our purpose, please get in touch with us via our website or social media! If you have dormant goods looking for a new home, we would love to see you at our Makerspace at The Depot, Morningside. 

How To Make A Social Impact

It was my great pleasure to be interviewed as a guest on the Stories Behind the Grind podcast recently. Aiden Vuocolo started his podcast so he could quiz the ‘creators, innovators and gamechangers’ on how they manage their successes and failures while working to scale up their business.

I joined Aiden for their 73rd episode – How to Make a Social Impact – I spoke about the principles behind World’s Biggest Garage Sale and the habits I put into place on a daily basis in order to create a profound impact.

Listen to your Gut

I have always been purpose-led, listening to my gut and my heart in equal parts. I believe this is why I’m where I am today. That’s not to say that listening to your head and logic is bad. But when listening to that logic allows fear to creep in and persuade you not to take the plunge…then it’s not ideal. It’s really important to balance logic and pragmatism with emotion and sensitivity. Lead with your heart, follow with your head.

Fail fast

Don’t be afraid to acknowledge the failures and the lessons they leave you with. My philosophy is to fail fast and get back up as fast as you can, and don’t look back. When we ran our first World’s Biggest Garage Sale event we ended up giving away every dollar we made, which wasn’t the best business decision. At the end of the day, we need to recoup some profit if we’re going to be able to grow and make a bigger impact for those outside our business. So we learnt a lesson from this ‘failure’ and the next time round we still gave a considerable amount to charity, but we also invested in our future as a business.

Be Authentic

I believe it’s never been more important to be a truer version of you, to lead with being authentic. Authenticity can be a great filter for the people around you – you might not please everyone but the ones who stick with you are like your ‘tribe’. It’s essential to preach the same when operating as a business, no matter what size or sector. Telling it like it is and maintaining transparency in your business and what you do with it, will always benefit you in the long run. To be authentic and function at our best we focus on measuring our impact. It’s our mission to not only be profitable so that we can continue to make a difference for the charities we donate to, but also  to multiply success for all. Money is simply a byproduct when your work is led by a greater purpose.

Pitching World’s Biggest Garage Sale as a female-led non-tech startup was not easy, but leading with transparency and vulnerability has allowed us to create a sense of connectedness within our community. We listen to our customers deeply and coined the term ‘customer intimacy’. As a business, without customers you have nothing. So we take signals from ours so that we can make a connection and make a difference.

Consistency is Key

As entrepreneurs and as people, we need to be consistent and patient. Get up, do what you said you were going to do that day, find your tribe, and hold yourself accountable. Daily life can have us on a phone call, checking social media and eating lunch at the same time. We’re all trying to do so much to achieve more, when the key is to do less to do more. One of my own goals is to make it possible for people to see that they have the power to be everything they’ve ever dreamed of. And I hope that through my actions and through my work, that I am edging closer towards that aspiration – slowly but steadily.

To hear more about the ins and outs of our business journey, listen to the Stories Behind the Grind podcast episode here.