When did you set up your business and why?

We (Anna Sheehan, Ellie Waters, Meredith Davis and Ellen Ryall) came up with the idea for ReFunk in November 2020 during our marketing masters in Trinity College, when the four of us entered a sustainability-themed hackathon. We had immediately bonded over our love of interiors and vintage fashion. The market of sustainable clothing platforms was already very saturated, so we saw an opportunity to create something similar in the furniture sector. We got involved in a few more competitions and accelerators within the university ecosystem throughout the year, but it wasn’t until we took part in Trinity’s Launchbox accelerator in summer 2021 that we really began to grow ReFunk into something more than just a good idea.

How does ReFunk work?

We have pivoted slightly away from our old model (where we took in donations) to now focus solely on the design and upcycling aspect. We connect conscious consumers with freelance upcyclers who breathe life into old furniture. Consumers have two options:

  • They can purchase upcycled furniture via our website shop.
  • They can request to have their own piece upcycled by logging a job on the site, giving details of their desired design. Delivery is arranged between the consumer and upcycler, but we hope to partner with a logistics provider further down the line.
  • Green telephone seat upcycled by ReFunk's Erika Deeter @up_it_e.

    What is your best seller?

    Dining chairs have definitely been one of the biggest best sellers- we’ve sold so many beautiful and unique sets. A set of simple wooden chairs has endless potential and when upcycled, can brighten up any room- whatever shade or style you go for- so it’s no surprise they’ve been such a hit with our customers.

    What is it about your business that brings you joy?

    Witnessing a mundane piece of furniture transform into something fresh and appealing provides a real sense of satisfaction, not only in terms of aesthetic, but from a waste perspective too. When it comes to the climate crisis, it’s so easy to feel helpless and confused as a consumer. Consumers need solutions that help them make sustainable choices, and knowing that ReFunk enables that positive behaviour change brings me a real sense of joy.

    ReFunk upcycler Erika Deeter @up_it_e at work.

    What are your hopes for 2022?

    For the next month or two, we are focusing on perfecting the new version of our platform, while we’re also planning some upcycler workshops and coffee mornings in October and November. We want to continue growing our upcycler and consumer communities in Ireland. We plan to start raising our seed round towards the end of 2022, with the ultimate goal of scaling into London in 2023, a city in which we think ReFunk would thrive.

    What advice would you give to another start-up business?

    Ask for feedback - get a group of mentors and advisers from whom you can request regular feedback on specific aspects of the business. As founders, we are so embedded in the day-to-day of our businesses that sometimes it can be difficult to take a step back, look at the bigger picture and spot areas that could be working much better. Frequent feedback has helped us to continually learn and grow as entrepreneurs, improve our decision-making and pave new pathways to drive ReFunk forward.

    For further information, visit www.refunkupcycling.com.