(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)