(By Sarah, as part of our Side Hustle Series)
I’m a college student with a few great passions in my life: God, style and personal finance. Eclectic mix, I know. I’ve written for J$ before, about how skipping class costs money!, and I’m back now to talk about my side hustle, which earns me some nice pocket change.
The first thing you should know about me is that I love to shop. I am a 20 year old girl, I mean, come on! I went to a private high school in the Silicon Valley, so I grew up surrounded by excess wealth. Louis Vuitton, Coach and Gucci bags were on the arms of almost all the girls I knew, while Chanel sunglasses were the accessory of choice and Tory Burch flats were the norm. My knowledge of luxury designers is pretty vast. I devour fashion magazines, subscribe to style blogs and keep up with every season’s trends. (Lucky Magazine, Teen Vogue and The Sartorialist are some of my favorites.)
By contrast, I come from a somewhat frugal Asian family. I was never able to afford brands like Chanel or Balenciaga. And as a college student, there’s definitely no way I could justify a Mulberry bag, with retail prices usually in the $1,000+ range, to either myself or my parents.
This was when I discovered the joys of thrifting. The benefits of living in a wealthy town meant that Goodwill and Salvation Army were loaded with cast-off designer clothes that were just one season old. Also, stores like Crossroads and Buffalo Exchange provided pre-owned designer clothing for a fraction of the price. They are carefully selected and priced with an eye for high-end labels and on-trend styles. For instance, it’s common to find 7 for All Mankind jeans, which normally retail for $150+, for about $40.
By keeping up to date on trends, monitoring selling prices on eBay, and educating myself on how to differentiate between fake and authentic designer goods, I’ve been able to make a good chunk of change (about $7,000 to date) by snapping up popular brands and reselling them on eBay.
The trick is to find clothes that are in good condition, in trendy cuts by popular labels. Then, an eBay listing which is aesthetically pleasing with big, clear pictures and accurate measurements will help buyers find what they want from you. I now have Powerseller status, and am a top-rated seller. This lowers my fees and increases my profit margins.
Personally, I have an undying devotion to Anthropologie, and tend to favor smaller, independent designers like Hayden-Harnett and Bulga for my purses. These brands have cult followings. This also means that there are more people on the hunt for sought-after and sold-out styles on eBay, who don’t mind buying preowned clothing, as long as it means they get to own that dress they’ve coveted for months (sometimes years!) that they missed out on. One of my greatest finds was a sold-out Anthropologie cardigan that I found at Crossroads for about $3.50 that resold on eBay for $120, because two women were engaged in an intense bidding war for it.
Now, I’m a college student with 3 jobs and a GPA to uphold, so I don’t have too much time to devote to this. But I stock up on items to resell and usually go on a listing spree every 3 months or so. This way, buyers get to know me and I get many repeat customers. The money I make usually goes back into my closet so I can go shopping both for myself and to buy new stuff to resell, as well as to donations to organizations I believe in.
I do this for fun. It takes little effort for me to go shopping and pick out clothes to resell (what can I say; I have good taste ;) ) and since I already have a template on eBay, all I need to do is take pictures and measurements. I hope to keep doing this to supplement my lowly college budget, but I have a feeling that I’ll keep doing this as long as I can.
PS: J$ suggested I market my eBay template to help maximize eBay profits. Anybody interested? Holler at me!
Guest Post by Sarah while J$ is out in Louisiana dropping love. To read more about Sarah’s personal finance insights, check out her blog at sarahming.blogspot.com. And if YOU have a cool side gig to share with us, let us know! We love hearing about new ways to make that extra money ;)
(Fashion collage by Joãomagagnin)
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i envy the fact that you have such a keen eye on picking out bestsellers in the shopping category… great way to supplement your shopping crave and building a passive income stream… bravo!
Um, hello!? I need a link to her shop! :)
Yes, please share the link to your ebay store.
Ditto on your store! And loved this post btw… I live in Silicon Valley, so I know what you mean.
@B Kelly-thank you very much!
@Annalisa @Amy @bleu – So, I wrote this post about a month ago, and it’s such ironic timing, because as of two days ago, I lost my PowerSeller status from inactivity! You can click on over to my blog http://sarahming.blogspot.com to find out why. Basically, eBay raised their prices AGAIN and I got so annoyed, I haven’t been listing as much stuff. But my username is pearltee40, and come summer time (just three more weeks!!!), I should be putting up more things to sell.
What a great way to combine the thrill of the hunt and a passion for fashion to make some extra cash. Thanks for sharing.
Great guest post – really interesting. Thanks!
I too love snapping up designer clothes – vintage in my case – then reselling. My best ever buy? A Pucci dress for around $2 in a Barcelona fleamarket. That’s the sort of bargain that goes down in history!
I so don’t follow fashion – I mean – I follow STYLES, not necessarily designers. I do know that certain things are out (but they always come back!)
I think it is cool that you have the eye and know how to do the ebay thing. Ebay annoyed me so much with their fees (I think I still owe them like 2 bucks for a listing fee on something that didn’t sell. Maybe I should check into that!)
Again, cool beans on being able to supplement your income doing something that you enjoy!
@Jenna: aw, thanks for the encouragement!
@Skint in the City-bravo! nice find! i love vintage clothes, too :)
@Katie-thank you! i love doing it! and yeah…eBay fees seriously suck :(
Thanks again for sharing your skills with us Sarah! Glad you all enjoyed this as much as I did :)
I LOVE selling clothes on eBay, it does bring in extra cash. I mostly sell kids clothes though. lol we are both blogging about the same things this week. :) Thanks for the post, nice.
Sarah, I am really impressed with your writing style, initiative, and independence. You are destined for great success. I suspect you are an entrepreneur in the making.
@Deana — That’s cuz we’re all dope! :)
@Barb Friedberg — I think so too, she’s awesome! And hasn’t even hit the “real world” yet…. she gives me hope ;)
Sarah you are an inspiration. My dad sent me your link and I’ve read it every day. I would love it if you could share your template for a fellow fashionista :)
Oh and at j$ I am a total fan now!
Woo! So glad you’re inspired! :)
Aw, you guys are so nice! Thanks so much for the sweet comments! I definitely hope things work out for me in the financial industry :)
Leslie, if you want some help with a template, go ahead and email me at dearsarahlam dot com (I type it out so spammers on the net don’t flood my inbox with unwanted junk!).
J$, can’t even describe the gratitude I feel! Thanks for giving me a platform to share my stories!
Could you speak to the time required to send out the merchandise? I would guess that could get quite time consuming if you had a flood of orders.
Barb, it actually doesn’t take much time at all. I pick up the USPS Flat Rate envelopes (which are free) and then I use USPS.com to create, purchase and print my labels. Then I just fold up the items, package them up and tape the label to it and put it in my mailbox to be picked up when the mailman comes. The whole process probably takes like 5 minutes top per item.
Hi Sarah is your acct hotmail I don’t understand. Thamks
Leslie, thanks for pointing out my goof! I totally got distracted and messed up my email! Haha how goofy is that! dearsarahlam at gmail.com
I don’t have a side hustle at the moment, but I have been thinking about it. Unfortunately, I work long hours and tend to have lots of other things to do when I do finally get home, so I often wonder if a job on the side would just be too much effort for not enough reward. Ideally, I’d love to make money off my blog, or maybe my new hobby of making photo books. It’s tough though, I wish I had more sell-able skills that would make for a good side hustle – like fixing cars or being crafty.
@Sarah, Thanks for the response. It certainly sounds like a “smart” side hustle. I’m always fascinated by the “selling stuff on line” option. Best regards, Barb
Yeah me too – this is fun to read :)
I would LOVE to check out your template!!! Let me know how and what you are charging, etc… Thank you!!! – Very inspiring.
I need someone to resell Apple Computer products that I purchase from an Authorized and Licensed Apple Reseller based in China all my orders shall be drop shipped from China so no shipping on your part will be involved!?