Inspiring female entrepreneur interview: Founder of community marketplace Y’earn, Carley Read, on business inspiration and chasing happiness

What I love the most about my job as a journalist is finding inspirational people and letting them bare their souls to me. I learn so much from them every single time. The latest I have come across on my path is the founder of community marketplace Y’earn, Carley Read. In our chat she has told me all about how she has managed to go from an initial practical idea to the creation of her green-orientated business during the pandemic. 

 

Q: How did the idea for your business come about?

I had the initial idea almost two years ago and it was to do with furniture. I’d relocated from London to New York, moved around Manhattan a lot, then to San Francisco. Every move was expensive and stressful. When a friend moved to SF and was struggling to furnish her home as I was putting all of my items into storage, again, it created the spark of the idea. Very quickly I knew I wanted it to be more than just furniture, that we could help people in the big life moments: setting up their first home, moving to a bigger one, or starting a family. We need so much stuff at certain times in our life but not necessarily for very long. At the same time there is an abundance of quality items people don’t need or have any easy/environmentally friendly way of disposing of, or making money from. I became passionate about creating a community that helps each other and the planet. 

Q: How did you come up with the name for your company Y’earn?

I spent an inordinate amount of time on this! I wanted something that reflected bringing the two sides of the marketplace together and was emotive. Yearn is a feeling, to want something and I liked that you could say you yearned it – you wanted it/ you got it /you made money from it. I also had the problem that people kept getting confused about who the renter/rentee was so it became this perfect storm when I decided to name them Earners (people that make money from items), Yearners (people that want items) and the brand became Y’earn (Y&E).

 

Q: How did you raise funding for your venture?

I bootstrapped most of it and was fortunate that I had a lot of room on credit cards in the US and the UK! I initially launched the business in the US as Covid hit so I had to close it and move back to England. I decided to start again a few months later and was fortunate a few friends believed in Y’earn and were able to invest. The plan is to run a Crowdcube campaign late summer so we have the funds to expand across England. 

Q: What motivates you?

Before Y’earn, I worked so I could travel and experience as much of the world as possible. Now I want to build something that I’m proud of, a business but also a community that helps each other, charities and the planet. It sounds a cliché but it’s true. I could just focus on the platform and growing revenue and not plant trees, pay for beehives, give to charities but I believe you can be a successful business that does good – from the start. I also never want to go back to corporate life!

Q: What is your greatest fear?

Probably not making the most of life. I had an early mid-life crisis at 22. I went backpacking, then back to my old job but quit abruptly to become Cabin Crew for British Airways. After that I opted for contracting roles rather than permanent jobs as it gave me the money and flexibility to travel when I wanted. I took a secondment to New York City with three-weeks-notice even though I’d just bought a flat as it was exciting. The pattern goes on. 

Q: How do you define success?

Being happy. Happy in myself, personal life and work. I have big plans for Y’earn, all the usual business metrics, but deep down I will only see it as successful if I’m happy with what we’ve achieved. 

Q: What piece of advice would you give to other women who want to become entrepreneurs?

Surround yourself with the right people. Not just from a work and networking perspective, but personal too. It can be hard and lonely, you’ll be told no A LOT so you need your cheerleaders, people that have the time, energy and patience to pick you up when you need it, especially when you don’t know you need it. 

Q: If you had a magic stick, which are the three things you would change in the world?

A lot of problems can boil down to injustice – so getting rid of that will address major issues like poverty, racism, discrimination, homophobia, the list goes on! Next I’d do something about the 100 companies that create over 70% of green-house gases. I’d finish with something light-hearted like all planes are supersonic so I could travel to see friends around the world easily (but without the CO2!).

Q: If you were to write a book about yourself, how would you name it?

I decided to not mull on this and go with the theme that I instantly felt. ‘Today is all we have’‘. I believe that if we do what makes us happy each day, we live a happy life. Not that if we do X, Y or Z that we will be happy in the future, because that means you’re always chasing happiness. I don’t mean that I feel happy every day but I try to do something that does make me smile and if I’m in a situation I don’t like or I think I can be happier then I change it. It may be uncomfortable or scary for a bit but in the long run it’s better.

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