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Carly McCluskey

Carly McCluskeyCarly McCluskey from Glasgow has launched a plant-based business to help make breakfast more environmentally friendly. Carly, 25, had the idea for a ‘vegan egg’ substitute during the pandemic and quickly enrolled to study Business Management with The Open University to make her side hustle a reality.

“We went vegan about five years ago,” says Carly, who now runs The Random Vegans with her boyfriend Jason. “It was then that we really learned about the impact our eating habits do have on the environment, never mind the actual impact of meat and dairy on the body.

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

Unlocking a new future

With a big idea but little experience, Carly knew a business degree would give her the building blocks to progress her company and positively impact the environmental cause she’s so passionate about.

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

With a full-time role working in recruitment, Carly was initially worried she would need to put her life on hold to study. Instead, studying flexibly with the OU means she can earn while she learns and put her new skills into practice straight away.

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

“From the second I got my module material, I was reading about it and applying it to my business straight away.”

Learning new skills

Not only are Carly and her partner Jason running their business together, Carly inspired Jason to become an OU student too.

“From the second I got my module material, I was reading about it and applying it to my business straight away.”

As Jason explains: “Carly started her course about six months before me and the knowledge she was gaining from the course was just so evident and I thought, ‘I’m crazy for not doing that as well’.”

After launching their first product – a ‘chick-free’ egg mix – the couple now successfully juggle their studies alongside their jobs and sending out orders to customers.

“With the flexibility of the OU, it really helps me keep on top of everything I need to do,” says Carly. “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 speak to my tutors and they’re always so understanding.”

Support to succeed

With so much on, Carly says that having a community of supporters cheering them on has been so important.

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

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

“My friends and family have been supportive too. They were all really excited for me, especially because I have used my OU studies to make my life better and start my own business.”

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

“I just want to learn as much as I can to make my business the best it can be. We would love to bring out more products, potentially even have a cookbook, or even our own Random Vegan restaurant one day!”

“I was once 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 them 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’, the co-branded docuseries with the OU and MTV Generation Change.

In each episode, host Henrie Kwushue meets the OU students that are not only opening their futures – but are busy tackling global issues related to the environment, equality and health. Watch the third episode featuring Carly on YouTube now.