Pioneering exchange economy with Julie Osburne

Photo courtesy of Julie Osburne

Julie Osburne traveled all across the country, busking and exchanging goods and skills with all of those she met. When she landed in Asheville in the spring of 2014, she had an idea that she wanted to share — and that idea was, simply, to share.

Osburne started a sharing economy website,, where users can create profiles, much like Facebook. But unlike other social media platforms, Exchange Tree displays offers and needs, connecting users to different skills sets in the area. Need a pet sitter? You can exchange that service for your knitting skills with a homemade scarf.

Though Osburne has since relocated to Portland, Ore., working on starting up Exchange Tree on the West Coast, the Asheville site is still up and running — with some improvements on the horizon.

“We are currently working with a local Ashevillean, Bethany Stafford, who is helping us completely redesign our site so it is a little more user-friendly, aesthetically pleasing and just all-around more advanced and relevant,” Osburne says. “Our updated version should be ready midway through [2015]. When it’s ready, we’ll be jumping back into our outreach to recruit more members to the site, and we can present our new and improved selves to the public.”

New features members can look forward to include a more organized system that shows the most sought-after goods and services in the area; a filtration system that gives priority to the most active members; and a community message board where people can post about classes, groups and desired items.


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About Hayley Benton
Current freelance journalist and artist. Former culture/entertainment reporter at the Asheville Citizen-Times and former news reporter at Mountain Xpress. Also a coffee drinker, bad photographer, teller of stupid jokes and maker-upper of words. I can be reached at hayleyebenton [at] Follow me @HayleyTweeet

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