Jana Bunagan, the 23-year-old founder of Re-store and The Good Trade, says it’s OK to start small
When tackling the subject of positive change, it’s common to think that only the big initiatives can really make a difference in this world. Twenty-three-year-old Jana Bunagan proves otherwise. A stock trader by profession, Jana’s side hustles include running Create Good and The Good Trade: two platforms that combine her advocacies of giving back and living sustainably.
Goodness in itself can be an abstract concept, but with Create Good, Jana breaks it down into three digestible initiatives. The first is Re-store, a pop-up space where she sells brand new (but excess stock) items donated by local brands at a discount, with 100 percent of the net proceeds going directly to select NGOs. The second, Refresh, is an idea originally from Singapore where wedding flowers are given new life at hospitals and shelters. The third, Street Store, is a pop-up shop where those in need can take clothes, books, toys, and houseware for free. Jana’s fourth separate initiative, The Good Trade, is a zero-waste and sustainability fair that allows shoppers to make environmentally-friendly decisions in one location.
It sounds overwhelming when you think about it, considering that Jana does all of this aside from her 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. stint at the stock market. But Jana handles it all with ease, having started out as a one-person team (now she has help from a few volunteers). All Good sits down with Jana to talk about the daunting task of setting up a social enterprise while juggling a day job.
Yes, it's my first experience in social entrepreneurship but I would say that it was years in the making. Growing up, I did random things on the side that didn't really make sense. In high school at St. Paul Cagayan, I was part of the Paulinian Volunteers Club and eventually when I was in fourth year, I became co-president with one of my friends. In college, I was part of an org that organized job fairs, so basically events management. After I graduated, I had two side hustles selling stationary and dream catchers. It was just all a mix. Re-store is everything I used to do in one.
In 2015, I took this online course that helped me funnel down what I want to do. I ended up with a website called Clover Hartly and at that time it was about giving back and sustainability, but the movements weren't so big yet. [Back then], people were confused about what it was about. Is [the website] about sustainability or is it about giving back? So I said that I'd just split it. And since I'm more focused on giving back, I said I'd just do that first. For Create Good, we have Re-Store, Street Store and Refresh. And then in May I noticed the sustainability movement was picking up, so then I started The Good Trade. The main goal for The Good Trade is really to enable shoppers to make decisions that are sustainable and Zero Waste without the hassle, because I personally know how hard it is. We partner with companies that are strong on zero waste or are sustainable and are helping communities. And at the same time with Create Good, we have NGOs who collect donations.
It was my friend who knew about Street Store. She wanted to volunteer for a very, very long time. She couldn't find something that could easily be squeezed in her schedule. When she was taking this class in Coursera, Street Store was mentioned there and she looked into it and found out that it's super easy [to start a local chapter]. You just have to apply and they give you the materials and you just have to find a venue partner. Now my friend is busy, so I’ve taken on managing it.
I think people would choose to help out if they're given the option to. This is something I strongly resonate with and one of the reasons why I started the platforms—it’s hard to find
volunteer opportunities that I can easily squeeze in my schedule. Both Create Good and The Good Trade give [people the] avenue to give back without the hassle (like traveling or paying a fee).
“I think starting something is really scary, but you just have to keep showing up.”
- Jana Bunagan, founder of Create Good and The Good Trade
The last Refresh session was with the ladies at Haven for Women. They are recuperating from traumatic experiences, we were told not to ask about it and try to keep it light. What was surprising though, when we went around the quarters, they would bless when they see visitors as a sign of respect.
There's also this one really memorable experience in Street Store and it's one of the memories I go back to whenever the going gets tough. I was assisting this little boy and like everybody else, he could get five items max. He kept going around picking shirts that were too big for him so I told him that we had a kids section with items that would fit him better. In response, he said, "Birthday po kasi ng tatay ko bukas."
I think starting something is really scary, but you just have to keep showing up. If you have a big goal in your head, you should break it down to smaller tasks that are doable and aren't too scary. Just do them every day and the discipline will eventually pay off because it's the little things, that, if added up together become the big things. I feel like with social entrepreneurship there's an extra pressure to be successful and to do something big right away because there's a promise to positively impact another person's life. But I feel like it's okay to start small.
I think capital can be a tricky business. You can reframe challenges as opportunities. Like for me, instead of tapping into companies for money, I ask them for things that they specialize in. For example, Lalamove. We partnered with them, we asked them for a code that donors could use to send their donations instead of asking, "hey can you sponsor this much." If you have a cause and you feel like it strongly resonates with you and you really believe in it and you have ideas of how you want to make an impact, just make a plan, set a deadline, and then launch it. It doesn't have to be perfect. The most important thing is to put yourself out there.
It’s refreshing to do something I value as much as the reward. Don’t get me wrong, I really love my day job; I have a career that allows my passion to thrive and for that I’m very grateful! I feel quite lucky that I don’t have to choose between them. I’m a checklist girl, I love my to-do lists. I figure out what I want to do, break them down to smaller, doable tasks and work on them. Sometimes it can be fun, sometimes it can be taxing, but you just have to keep hustling!
“If you have a cause and you feel like it strongly resonates with you and you really believe in it and you have ideas of how you want to make an impact, just make a plan, set a deadline, and then launch it. It doesn't have to be perfect. The most important thing is to put yourself out there.”
- Jana Bunagan, founder of Create Good and The Good Trade