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Venture Update with Yasmin Grigaliunas of World’s Biggest Garage Sale

“SheEO made me feel safe — like I was not so crazy and so different, that there are hundreds, thousands, likely millions of us out there that believe in what we believe, that things can be done differently. And we are doing them differently.”

— Yasmin Grigaliunas, World’s Biggest Garage Sale

In this episode

Catch up with Yasmin Grigaliunas, founder of SheEO Venture World’s Biggest Garage Sale. She talks about her partnership with Officeworks, the importance of values-aligned partnerships, and how the SheEO community helped support her along the way.

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Podcast Transcript:

The podcast is being transcribed by Otter.ai. (there may be errors, run-on sentences and misspellings).

Yasmin Grigaliunas 0:00
Yeah, the Officeworks partnership has been remarkable. It’s definitely one of the number one questions I get asked a lot, which is how did you get Officeworks. And look, I suppose it comes down to values aligned partnerships. And, you know, I remember when they first approached us to solve their problem for them, or to at least explore solving the problem with them. It was never a ‘for them’ thing, it was always a ‘with them’. And right from the start, they said, you know, we don’t want to dump our problems onto you, we want to work collaboratively together. So it really set the framework up about this trust, transparent, and very relational value exchange between our businesses. And we had the time and the trust, to be able to explore the opportunities. And in exploring those opportunities, that’s when we learned that we could actually bring value to the business. We could divert, you know, 98% of products that would have otherwise ended up in landfill. And that then created jobs within our business. So it was a win-win for our social enterprise, as well as the commercial opportunity for Officeworks and for us. And so for a number of years, we just evolved. And as they had other problems, or challenges or opportunities come their way, we would be offered the opportunity to explore whether or not it would fit into our business model. And I suppose along the way, we were navigating a whole bunch of experiments, you know, can we do this? Let’s see. And again, values aligned, it was all often about exploring with trust and transparency, and not necessarily having a box to try to fit the opportunities into. So I guess along the way, we did what we said we would do, we built trust, we honored the relationship, we were an anonymity. Well they were an anonymity client to start with, which means we didn’t and couldn’t talk about them. And then at a point in time, when we could, we did, and we celebrated their excellence and their innovation and their trust and guidance in allowing our business to take their product, and effectively in a product stewardship mode to take the product and to do something with it that was better than what was happening. And so we worked with their team at all levels. At store level, at leadership level, C suite level, operational level. And again, we always did what we said we would do. So if we made a commitment we follow through. And that does build trust. And the biggest question we’ve got asked towards the end of the three years, which is now the beginning of the next phase was, when can you be in Sydney and Melbourne? And of course, that to me, planted the seed that we needed to raise capital. And so we started to build the deck and started to build out the business model, which was effectively working with retailers like Officeworks, which was a proven success. And as I started to build our pitch deck, obviously Officeworks and their family of brands — Kmart, Target, Bunnings, were what I had put into our deck to pitch. But I never had it dawned on me that I could actually have Officeworks invest. When they said, How are you coming to Melbourne, Sydney? And I said, Well, we’re raising capital and just about to open a round. They said, Well, can you send us your deck? We might be interested in investing. And I was like, Oh, my gosh, and it was so funny, because it’s right, obviously in front of you, of course, businesses like Officeworks invest. But I suppose I made an assumption, unconsciously that maybe we were too soon for them that we had more to prove before they would be ready. And big mistake that was making that assumption because once I connected the dots, and I said to them, sure, I’ll send you my deck. But I should warn you, your brand is littered throughout the deck, and I’m pitching to investors that we’re scaling our partnership with an intention that Wesfarmers will eventually be within our suite of products. And they said yeah, that’s fine. Send us the deck anyway. So I sent the deck with some slight professional embarrassment. And maybe not embarrassment, but maybe like, oh my gosh, I’m pitching to them what we will be — I hope they’re aligned. Is probably what I had thought. But anyway, I sent it to them the same day. And long story short, I pitched the C suite over teams that were maybe five or six people along with a couple of my board. And we pitched and they’re pretty committed to invest. So — in fact are not pretty committed, they were very committed to invest upfront, like right then and there. We knew that they would invest in our business.

Yasmin Grigaliunas 4:40
We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for SheEO or I wouldn’t be a founder still, I suppose, well not in this business. Maybe another who knows. But I think I’m born and bred to be an entrepreneur, but I definitely wouldn’t have made it this far without the investment initially from SheEO, that venture loan was pivotal and still to this day, I talked about that day that I stood up on stage and announced in a room where I felt really safe that love is the next disrupter in business. And now I see love everywhere in business. And I just literally tweeted about love Brisbane, because they’ve got a love Brisbane campaign. I love that love is now finding its way into our boardrooms. And SheEO made me feel safe that even when I sounded super crazy and very outlier and very different, that it was not so crazy and so different, that you know, there were hundreds of women in the room that day, thousands of women globally, tens of thousands, likely millions of us out there that believe in what we believe, that things can be done differently. And we are doing them differently. And that is okay. And you don’t need to fit into the societal norms, or the archaic business models that have been built in the past, we can and do, and have, and will continue to build our own business models and have that support from SheEO. So I suppose I felt safe, I felt at home. And I felt like as a founder, I had a space and a place where I could be me, authentically, vulnerably,you know, all in. Real, real not show reel. And I could therefore spend less time trying to fit into something that didn’t fit me and more time actually scaling a business that was still going to be hard to scale and hard to design and hard to execute on, but knowing that I had this support around me to guide and catch, and poke and prod, and pull and push, and do all of the things but ultimately envelope and hold me through that evolution of what our business is going through back then. And even today to this day. So, you know, Monica Bradley is actually our board chair, and she has created where we are today, in terms of her support, her initiative, her capabilities. You know, I would absolutely say that SheEO, from the moment that I was announced as a Venture through to today, every single moment that has mattered has had some sort of interlaced support from someone in the SheEO community. Whether it’s, we had two investors who invested really early back when COVID smashed and decimated our business model. And they still invested — in Christine and Mary-Anne, and they are, you know, women here locally, in southeast Queensland who just unconditionally supported that first round, back when it was just, you know, who knew what was gonna happen with COVID. And they’ve never faulted and also came into this round, which is wonderful. And, of course, as I said, with Monica on our board, and I have another SheEO Activator on our board in Angela Ryan. I mean, it’s so wonderful to have women who hold their own and who are strong, and again, who support the real real of business. And they challenged me, they still, you know, absolutely ask the hard questions. But ‘m in a space where I can continue to have those strong, authentic human values driving the design of the business in the future. And even with a big giant retailer like Officeworks investing, the business values and ethos is, is strong in the foundations, because we’ve had so much guidance from amazing leaders who just hold their own. And SheEO is filled with founders, co founders, leaders, mentors, and even just, you know, side by side women who invest their money, knowing that they won’t necessarily get money back for it. I mean, there’s an Activator you don’t, But what you get is the satisfaction and I’m an Activator myself and became an Activator long before becoming a Venture. I get joy when that comes out of my credit card every month. Knowing that that money is making a difference to someone. Just like me, better than me, someone going on their own journey. And, you know, that’s the greatest gift that we can give is to enable someone else who believes that they have something that can make a difference.

Yasmin Grigaliunas 9:36
If I actually tell you a little story about, you know, a time four years ago, I’d just started the business in 2017, officially. And in 2018 I was in a strategy session ironically with Monica Bradley at the time. And I said to her that day, World’s Biggest Garage Sale is not big enough, like we’re bigger than that. The vision I have is bigger than the garage sale and everyone thinks because I walk around with the garage sale on my shirt and it’s, I’m absolutely the brand. I live it, love it, breathe it, you know, everything in my life is red. It’s not — it doesn’t clutch me and I don’t value myself based on the business. So whilst I’m the founder and absolutely committed to the business growth past present future, it’s not just me that needs to do what’s next. And that day I met with Monica and created a new brand called Circonomy long before circular economy was as popular as it is today, or as noted and known as it is today, I knew that blending Circular Economy together into a word called Circonomy, which I love doing, I love a blend of a word. I knew it was too early to do anything with Circonomy back then. But certainly as part of this capital race, we went front and center. And literally my first slide said, when the world’s biggest is not big enough. You know, Circonomy was the next — so that’s the next evolution for us, is Circonomy, I’ll sit around the boardroom table, and be able to influence and create change and continue to deliver on circular economy solutions. More palatable than World’s Biggest Garage Sale, and World’s Biggest Garage Sale won’t die. And certainly, the brand itself is very iconic in this circular economy space. But we are bigger than the World’s Biggest Garage Sale. So we have to grow and evolve and change. And a new name a brand, a change is living and breathing the very values that we have at our foundation. You know, change is constant. And change is inevitable. And I’ve always said that we all have superpowers. And you know, I have superpowers. I also have super weaknesses. But I have superpowers, and one of my superpowers that I acknowledge is that I am excellent at transition. And what that means is I can move and change very quickly with the change of circumstances or the change around me. So as we’ve raised capital, the business is evolving at a rate that it needs to evolve in order to continue to be a leader in circular economy, but also an innovator and a constant change maker. And to do that, I need to change, my team needs to change, the business is changing. And being okay with change, having that capability to transition between different movements and different moments is a real gift. And I am so grateful that in my heart and mind, that change and transition is something I’m extremely comfortable with. Because it is absolutely something that is going to be a constant in any business that needs to be a sustainable business that can can last a lifetime and multiple lifetimes.

Yasmin Grigaliunas 12:59
So for what’s next, so much is next. And the best thing is, for me, is one of the things I disliked immensely about being a founder and I still to this day dislike immensely — and I’ll talk about the real real, not just the show reel. Is I hate being the chief everything officer. I detest it. I loathe it. Being the person that has to know and do everything is a shit show. It is awful. You just don’t want or need that in a company. And so for me that’s most exciting change, is I don’t need to know everything. I don’t need to be the person with all the answers. And I don’t want to be. And I love and I am so excited that one of the biggest changes is that we have a team of people to enable, to trust, who will make their own mistakes and decisions just like I have, and did, and done for the last five years of our business. For the next five years, it’s not about me. It’s so much more about we. And I get to stand side by side — a bigger team with bolder ambition than I could ever have alone and build what will continue to be a circular economy social enterprise that can be globally scalable well beyond me and my capability.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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