Inspirational Woman: Farleigh Hungerford | Founder, Farly

Farleigh HungerfordMy name is Farleigh Hungerford and I’m the female founder of social shopping marketplace Farly

I’m passionate about circular fashion, sustainability and re-thinking new ways in which we shop and interact with products. After graduating from Edinburgh University, I set up my first venture; Scratch Meals Ltd 2009, a successful food start-up which promotes eco-conscious, healthful meal kits – selling in retail giants Sainburys, Tesco and Waitrose.   My most recent venture Farly was born after briefly setting up my own fashion brand selling dresses and experiencing leftover stock – Farly is a curated shopping marketplace akin to an online flea market.  It is a bi-directional e-commerce space that encourages a more circular economy by the resale and recycling of garments.  Each individual shop window has a click to buy mechanic; marrying design and function with beautifully curated items to buy and rewarded curation fee.  Farly’s mission is to empower each of us to become our own trend setter and share unique, sustainable finds with friends.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I didn’t so much sit down and plan it – but I always had a goal.  I knew that I wanted to develop a sustainable innovation that had meaning or purpose, seeking to increase the wellbeing of humanity and life on our planet.  In particular improving the impacts of climate change.   It was this goal combined with a passion for styles, fashion and technology that led to Farly.  My career has been driven by my passions. Farly was born from a reaction to fast fashion and in particular some fashion waste that I experienced first-hand when creating my own fashion brand. As a result, I’ve created an online eco-system that aims to understand the lifecycle of garments and supports a circular economy encouraging people to resell, recycle and reuse clothes.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Plenty – and I am pretty sure challenges won’t stop here! It is part of growth.  With any start-up, in the beginning phase it is very much about trial and error – learning what works and what doesn’t.

Sure, it can be frustrating at times, especially in technology as you’re always dealing with bugs and fixes. But I realise that some of the big challenges need to happen in order to gauge a better understanding of the scope of the product and audience. I think I am slowly learning how to react to challenges and crises better – taking key learnings from each challenge and I think this has been transformational.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

It is still very early days as we are pre-launch but the key achievements to date have been soft launching our MVP, finding and working with a great team who believe in what I’m creating, on boarding some of the very first users on to the platform and getting some great press attention.  It is exciting to watch a dream very slowly evolve into a reality. And even if it is not perfect- it’s an evolution.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success? 

“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”

― Maya Angelou

As an entrepreneur, I believe that to achieve success you need to be passionate about what you are doing.  Being passionate and also understanding why you want to do what you do. That has really helped me to drive my business forward come rain or shine.  Aside from this I think one needs to be determined to work hard, be patient, have the ability to repair ruptures, and learn from rejections and failures.  I think it also helps if you have inspiring role models or supportive people around you to help you find courage and strength through adversity.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

I am very pro mentoring. I think there is always something to be learnt.  Nobody has all the answers. And I have found it very helpful to have people help me recognise my blind spots and can give me advice in areas where I fall short.  I have been lucky to have a very supportive family and friends and so I’d say my parents and friends have largely acted as a sounding board along the way.   Having said that – it is a balance – as I’ve also found when important decisions need to be made, trusting my own intuition is imperative.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?

I would like to see more money being invested in women-led start-ups.  In 2019, 2.8% of funding went to women-led startups; in 2020, that fell to 2.3%, Crunchbase figures show. From my experience, some VC’s or angels still have some way to go in working towards Gender Equality.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

Believe in yourself and have faith in what you are doing.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

Raising investment is the next challenge as Farly has been bootstrapped thus far. Pitches are happening, however as mentioned earlier, investing in female-led businesses is nowhere near the investment opportunities available to men, which is disappointing to see. Nonetheless, Farly has raised interest from investors so we look forward to being able to announce investment opportunities, building our team, expanding our territory and reaching out to those that have yet to hear about us.

The ultimate goal is for Farly to be instantly recognisable and for Farly to be known for being a sustainable fashion-tech social marketplace as soon as you see the logo, corporate colours and say the name. We want people to be asking each other if they will be ‘Farly-ing that’ as a nod to buying, selling or curating their sustainable clothes, homeware, jewellery and more!

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