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“The sky’s the limit,” OU student and vegan entrepreneur tells FE News

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Carly McCluskey from Glasgow has launched a plant-based business to make breakfast greener.

Carly, 25, had an idea for a ‘vegan egg’ substitute during the pandemic and quickly enrolled Business management with the Open University to make her side hustle a reality.

“We went vegan about five years ago,” says Carly, who is now working Casual vegans with her boyfriend Jason. “It was then that we really learned about the impact of our eating habits on the environment, not to mention the actual impact of meat and dairy products on the body.

“I want to make vegan food more accessible and just educate people so they can make that change too.”

Opening a new future

With a big idea but little experience, Carly knew that a business degree would give her the building blocks to grow her company and make a positive impact on the environmental cause she was so passionate about.

“I just thought, if I want to make this change in my life and in the world, I need to learn about business so I can grow my own,” she says.

With a full-time job in recruitment, Carly was initially worried that she would have to put her life on hold to study. Instead, OU’s flexible learning means she can earn while she studies and put her new skills into practice right away.

“My degree has helped me in so many ways, from learning the basics of accounting so I can write books for our business, to learning the basics of marketing to help promote it and create social media campaigns.

“From the moment I received my modular material, I read about it and immediately applied it to my business.”

Learning new skills

Not only do Carly and her partner Jason run their business together, Carly inspired Jason to become an OU student as well.

As Jason explains, “Carly started her course about six months before I did, and the knowledge she gained on the course was so obvious that I thought, ‘I’m crazy I didn’t do that too.’

After launching their first product – a chicken-free egg mix – the couple now successfully juggle their studies with work and sending orders to customers.

“With the flexibility of OU, it really helps me stay on top of everything I need to do,” Carly says. “I can work and study at the same time from my laptop at home, and you can also access everything on your phone.

“I can also talk to my tutors and they always understand.”

Support for success

Carly says that with so much on their minds, it’s important to have a community of fans who support them.

“Everyone at OU is so helpful, from the tutors to the wonderful group of students. It’s a really great sense of community. They are always there if I need help or assistance.

“Even though it’s distance learning, you’re never alone.

“My friends and family have also been supportive. They were all very excited for me, especially because I used my OU education to improve my life and start my own business.”

Looking to the future and how far she’s come, entrepreneur Carly feels the sky’s the limit.

“I just want to learn as much as I can to make my business better. We would love to feature more products, potentially even have a cookbook or even our own Random Vegan restaurant one day!

“I used to be a big meat eater and I’ve changed my habits, so I really believe that vegan food can be more accessible to everyone. I want to inspire others to make small changes for themselves and the environment – that’s what motivates me.”

Generation Change: Ones to Watch

Carly is one of the incredible OU students featured in “Ones To Watch,” a documentary series in collaboration with OU and MTV’s Generation Change.

In each episode, host Henry Kwushu meets OU students who are not only discovering their future, but are also busy solving global challenges related to the environment, equality and health. Watch the third episode featuring Carly YouTube now.

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