Founded by 15-year-old student Bailey Cherry in 2019, reBooked is a nonprofit social enterprise dedicated to promoting a circular economy for books in Hong Kong. It is Hong Kong’s first online platform for secondhand English language children’s books, redirecting hundreds of books away from landfills and giving them a new home. We recently had the opportunity to speak to the sustainability-minded young entrepreneur about her journey, the challenges of juggling her platform alongside school, and her hopes for the future.
GQ: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and why you started reBooked?
BC: I’m 15 years old and I go to the Canadian International School. I really enjoy reading, I play basketball and I love community service. My main project I’m working on is reBooked, a non-profit social enterprise providing a platform to reuse children’s books. I saw a gap in the market to make it convenient for families to donate books all year round. While there were some book drives happening in certain months of the year, there were no year-round programmes. There was also a lack of services in the market to make secondhand books really accessible to families. So that’s why I decided to create an online shop to address this.
GQ: What has your journey been like to manage a secondhand books platform while being a full-time student?
BC: It’s definitely been a lot to handle. Initially, I didn’t know where to start. The main problem for me is time management. Obviously, as a full-time student, I have extra-curricular activities and on top of that, running reBooked. So I learned how to manage my time between different things, and it’s all about prioritising and making sure I can set aside time to work on reBooked.
I saw a gap in the market to make it convenient for families to donate books all year round.Bailey Cherry, ReBooked
GQ: What are the biggest challenges you have faced operating reBooked amid the coronavirus pandemic?
BC: One of the things we had to do is to change our business model. Before, one of the ways we delivered books was by meeting up directly with the customer in MTR stations, which was convenient and wasn’t costly for either party. Whereas now with the coronavirus, we are trying to stay home and socially distance, so we are switching to using post services.
GQ: Do you think that the concept of circularity is growing here in Hong Kong?
BC: Yes, I definitely think so. A lot of our customers here are very interested in sustainability and circularity, but many people simply don’t have enough time or effort to go out of their way to doing these sorts of things. So that’s why I’m focused on making it convenient for people, to make it easy for others to be a part of something sustainable. I also think that young people are definitely at the forefront of the movement, because we have fewer mental boundaries. We dream big and we want to achieve these environmental goals.
GQ: In your opinion, has the pandemic elevated awareness of sustainability in the city?
BC: I think so. We have had to learn and adapt in terms of sustainability in all aspects – not just environmentally, but socially sustainable and economically sustainable as well in these difficult times.
GQ: What hopes do you have for the future?
BC: With reBooked, our future goals are to expand in Hong Kong with more drop-off boxes. This is something we have to do to make it easier for everyone to give away their used books and reduce coordination time from having to meet up with book donors directly. We also want to continue to appear in more pop-ups. Though we are an online business, we want to have more offline participation as well, and we’ve previously had pop-ups in stores, events and festivals. In the future, we can hopefully expand to other countries too, such as Singapore. Personally, I just want to keep doing what I’m doing with reBooked, and maybe start something new that also serves the Hong Kong community.
Young people dream big and we want to achieve these environmental goals.Bailey Cherry, ReBooked
GQ: What motivates you to keep doing the work that you do?
BC: The positive feedback that i’ve gotten from everyone, from our book donors to customers. When I hear people say there is a need for this service, that’s what keeps me motivated. It makes me really happy when I see that people are enjoying and benefiting from what I do and that I can serve the community through this.
GQ: If there is one piece of advice you would like to share with someone who is trying to live more sustainably, what would it be?
BC: I’d just tell them every little thing matters. For some people, it is more difficult to make big changes, but every little thing makes a difference and it all adds up in the end to make an impact.
GQ: What are some of the books you’re reading right now?
BC: I have recently finished reading The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, and at the moment, I’m reading a book called Battle Royale, The Novel by Koushun Takami.
GQ: Final question – team noodles or team rice?
BC: Rice – rice is so versatile!
All images courtesy of Bailey Cherry.