Written by Hannah Westwood
Hazaar, founded single-handedly by Harriet Noy, is a zero-waste marketplace for students, soon to be rolled out as an app. It began life as ‘Bepop’, a Facebook page for students at the University of Birmingham to sell and swap their items. Harriet and her housemates were all part of sports societies at the time, and they quickly realised just how much their waste was building up ordering costumes that would only be worn once.
We’ve all been there – desperately searching Primark or browsing Amazon Prime for a costume to fit the theme, whether neon, shit shirt or pub golf. The irony is, of course, that over the course of the year all societies end up hosting events with similar themes, and the costume you need for one night is probably on the floor of another student house, having been used the previous week at a different social.
Harriet realised that she and her housemates could easily save some money, and reduce their environmental impact, if they could buy costumes off other students rather than buying new every week.
Now rebranded as Hazaar, the Facebook page allows students to sell anything to fellow students at the same university, and soon grew to a following of over 4,000 students at the University of Birmingham. Over lockdown, Harriet started launching pages at other universities for Hazaar.
Hazaar is a unique marketplace just for students, with all sales occurring in person. This is not only better for the environment, because it reduces packaging and shipping, but it’s much more convenient. Harriet says that this convenience is Hazaar’s USP – with Depop, Vinted and Facebook Marketplace, it can take anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks for something you’ve ordered to arrive. But Hazaar is a whole new story.
“It can be Wednesday, it’s sports night, you go on the app and find a costume, and you can pick it up an hour later – it’s instant,” Harriet told LSM in an interview.
Equally, it’s more convenient for the seller to hand a sold item to someone on campus than have to make the time to package up the item and take it to the Post Office. Especially with both seller and buyer being at the same university, campus is an easy common ground for exchanges to happen.
“The app is completely tailored towards students,” Harriet stressed, meaning that it’s easy to find textbooks, decorative items for your student house and clothes for specific socials – things you often can’t find on other apps. There’s even a section for reworked items, for people to sell things they’ve been making during lockdown.
When the app is launched, Hazaar will take a 10% fee per sale – the same as Depop – but with it not using PayPal, the processing fees are slightly lower, meaning that it is cheaper for students to sell on Hazaar than Depop.
Launching a new business venture during lockdown wasn’t easy, but Harriet feels that despite this, she has been able to make the best of it. Firstly, the lockdown gave her more time to be able to work on Hazaar whilst stuck inside and, managing to secure investment, Harriet has started to develop an app for Hazaar, which will be ready for use at the University of Birmingham after Christmas.
“Although it’s my company, it feels like a collaborative thing,” Harriet said, speaking about the amazing community built up around Hazaar.
She has a couple of friends that help with the social media, marketing and publicity side of things, and the reps that run the various Hazaar pages for the different universities all help too. Her investor also contributes her time to helping Harriet get Hazaar off the ground.
Once set up and tested at Birmingham, Harriet plans to start rolling out the app at other universities that have Facebook pages, and the aim is to have it launching at all UK universities by the beginning of next academic year – September 2021. After graduating this summer, she plans to move to Manchester with a couple of friends and work on Hazaar full-time.
In her final year studying towards a degree in Economics, Harriet has always had an interest in small business and working for a start-up, but it is sustainability that is her major motivation behind Hazaar:
“By cutting out postage, there’s no wasteful packaging or travel miles,” Harriet said about why she’d created an app that specifically encourages exchanges in-person.
Harriet has long been interested in sustainability, and founded a plastic-free society at the University of Birmingham. Her aim with Hazaar is to encourage students to reduce their single-use plastic and waste, and take part in a circular economy.
Hannah Westwood is a final year English & American Studies student interested in sustainability, feminism and America. She is also Events & Publicity Officer for Plan-It Change. You can find her on Instagram @hannah.westwood.