Dreams Into Dollars: Resale Hobby Becomes Big Business for Va. Woman

Do you have clothes that just sit in your closet all year long? That’s what helped kick-start a Falls Church, Virginia’s online business.

Rebecca Black had been selling clothing online for about 15 years. It was simply a hobby until she found herself needing the extra money she was making.  

"Seven years ago, I started getting really sick, and we couldn’t figure out why,” said Black. "I took my passion and decided to turn it into a business out of almost sheer necessity."

Black has since learned she suffers from several auto-immune diseases that made working a "normal" job increasingly difficult. She was still able to work from home, so she found herself returning to the websites she’d been using more often.

"When I first started doing it on a full-time scale, it was truly to pay for medical bills," she explained. "Then I realized that it was growing and snowballing into something."

About a year ago, Black decided to invest more time and money into her growing business. She now has a room in her home dedicated to storing, photographing and packaging the clothing she sells.

"I’m not in the six-figure a year club – yet," said Black. "But I’m making as much as I was working a full time job."

Black uses websites like Poshmark and eBay to facilitate most of her sales. While the sites charge commission fees, they also help put her items in front of customers all over the world. She made $60,000 last year. She says $7,000 of that came from items already in her home.

That’s the primary tip she gives to resale hopefuls who come to her for advice. She shared "4 Things To Know" for others hoping to get their small businesses off the ground.

  1. Find items around your house. "What I always suggest is four to ten things a week for four weeks. Find your items, it’s free, it’s already in your house. It gives you an opportunity to try different selling platforms and get the lay of the land," Black said. 

  2. Find the right spot to take photos. Black has invested in equipment but says that’s a recent investment. "For a really long time, I just used big windows in our house. Play around with your phone or your camera and play angles, move stuff around!"

  3. Find one platform -- and stick to it. "Don’t start listing everywhere in the universe because you’re only going to get confused. It’s going to be harder to learn all of them at once than just one at the same time."

  4. Don’t get discouraged. "Even seasoned sellers, seasoned veteran resellers have that 'oops I shouldn’t have bought that' moment. Don’t beat yourself up if maybe you bought some things and they’re not selling quickly. Use those as learning opportunities for when you purchase things next time."

Black has a website dedicated to sharing the tips and tricks she's learned along the way, including how to keep track of your sales for tax purposes. Check it out here. You can also visit her Poshmark closet here

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