Monday, May 27, 2024

How This 23-Year-Old Started A Side Hustle That Earns Her 124K/Year –

How This 23-Year-Old Started A Side Hustle That Now Earns Her 124K/Year

Who would have thought you could earn over 6-figures reselling items online?

Well, we talked with Sophie Riegel and she tells us exactly how she earned 124K last year reselling items.

Sophie shares what platforms she uses to sell, what items she makes the most profit from, and so much more!

OK, here you go…everything you need to know about starting your online resale business.

1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to start your business?

I grew up in NY and went to college in NC at Duke. I graduated in May 2023 with a degree in Psychology. In addition to being a reseller, I am also a professional speaker, certified coach, and author.

I speak all over the country about my experience with mental illness and have written three books related to that topic. In 2022, I went to coaching school (both of my parents are coaches) because I wanted to help parents navigate their relationship with their kids. Now I work full time as both a coach, speaker, and a reseller.

How did I become a reseller?

During my freshman year of college, we were all sent home because of COVID and told to continue all of our classes asynchronously. When I was at home, it felt like there was nothing to do and my parents told me and my twin brother that we needed to find a hobby.

That’s when I started going through my closet and selling those items on platforms like Mercari and Poshmark. I had nothing but time to figure out the ins and outs of reselling clothing and I quickly realized how profitable this could be.

In November of 2020, I began going to thrift stores to find items to sell on the platforms I learned so much about. From that point on, I knew I wanted to know everything there was to know about reselling and my business took off from there.

2. Could you detail the steps involved in the launch of your business?

These were some of the steps involved in launching my business:

  • Find places to source items
  • Get all necessary shipping supplies
  • Get a storage unit for my inventory
  • Become familiar with the reselling platforms
  • File for an LLC
  • Research, research, research!
  • And more

3. What types of items do you specialize in reselling? Is there a type of item that is always in demand?

I specialize in selling adult shoes, clothes, and accessories. Athletic shoes are always in demand since they have a high retail price and are used in every season.

High-end/designer bags and backpacks are also in demand throughout the year, especially because they don’t go out of style as quickly as clothes do.

Other items like winter jackets, boots, sandals, swimwear, etc. are much more seasonal items and therefore sell well for only a few months out of the year.

4. Can you walk us through your business model and your process for online selling?

I go to thrift stores, yard sales, etc. and buy undervalued items and sell them online.

For example, I might walk into a thrift store and find a pair of nike shoes for $5 and then I will bring them home, clean them if needed, and get them listing on the different reselling platforms.

Then I wait for the item to sell and ship it to the buyer. I have over 1,300 items in my inventory right now.

Essentially, these are the main steps:

  • Do tons of research to know what to look for
  • Source inventory
  • Clean inventory (if necessary)
  • Photograph inventory
  • Edit photographs
  • Store inventory
  • List inventory (and do research on each item to figure out the price to list it at)
  • Sell inventory
  • Pack inventory
  • Ship inventory
  • Repeat

5. Where are the best places to find your inventory, and what strategies do you use to ensure the quality of the items you sell?

I find good quality inventory at most thrift stores. Anytime I travel, I go to the local thrift stores and I find great items. While some areas I have been to have better inventory and prices than others, I think wherever you are, you can find high-quality items.

In the warmer months, I also go to flea markets and yard sales.

If you know what to look for and have a depth of knowledge, you can find good inventory almost anywhere.

I avoid consignment stores because the prices are too high for me to hit my desired profit margin.

Before purchasing any items, I do a thorough quality control check. For shoes, I check for wear on the soles, uppers, and the inside (there is often wear in the back of the shoe by the heel). I also do the “bend test” to make sure that if I bend the shoes, they don’t fall apart or crack.

On clothing, I look for stains, holes, and excessive wear. On bags, I make sure both the inside and outside are clean and I check all zippers to make sure they are working properly.

I do make mistakes sometimes, though. I have missed flaws in items and found them once I started my photographing process. In that case, I will either re-donate them or sell them and note the flaw in the description.

6. Can you describe your process for pricing your items? What factors affect the price?

Factors that affect the price are item condition, seasonal demand, competition, sell-through rate, etc.

When I find an item, I usually use Google Lens to search my item and find other similar listings on eBay, Poshmark, and Mercari. I can search for my item on those platforms and see what my exact item has sold for in the past.

Resellers call this process “checking comps.” I will usually price my item a bit higher than what it has previously sold for to leave room for offers. If I have the only one of that specific item listed, I will increase the price since there is no competition. If I want to make a quicker sale, I will decrease the price.

For example, if I find a coach purse, I will look up the style number that is written on the inside of the bag. Once I do that, I will find the name of the style and type it into eBay.

Then I will filter the listings on eBay to sold listings and see what it has sold for in the past. If I see that it is consistently selling for around $40, I might price is at $45 or $50 and take an offer from a buyer. If I want to get rid of it quickly, I might price it at $30.

When I price my items, there is a lot of research involved. I’m considering the condition of the item, the supply and demand, the novelty, the size, and much more.

7. How do you market and promote your online resale business to attract customers and generate sales?

I don’t do any marketing. I just make sure I have high quality and desirable items at a good price and the customers come to me. I will occasionally run sales on the reselling platforms which does help drive business my way.

8. What platforms or channels do you use for selling clothing and other items you sell?

I sell on Poshmark, eBay, and Mercari. I find Poshmark to be the most user-friendly of the three platforms. Around 45% of my sales are on Poshmark, 30% on eBay, and 25% on Mercari.

9. How much do you earn with your business?

Since I started reselling 3.5 years ago, I’ve had about $350,000 in sales and around $205,000 in profit after fees, cost of goods, and other expenses. In 2023, I had a revenue of $124,000.

10. How do you handle logistics and shipping for sales?

On Poshmark, there is a flat shipping fee of $7.99 that my buyers pay. Once an item sells, I download and print the shipping label, pack up the item, put the shipping label on the package, and drop it at the post office. I am typically shipping out between 60 and 90 packages a week and here is my process:

Two to three times a week I will do this:

  • Print shipping labels from all platforms using a thermal label printer
  • Write the name of the item on the back of the shipping label
  • Pull the items from my inventory
  • Go through the pile of shipping labels and pack the item that is written on the back
  • Put all of my packages in large duffel bags
  • Bring them to the post office and drop them off

Shipping on eBay is more complicated which is why I recommend using Poshmark to start.

11. What challenges have you encountered in running your resale business?

It is hard to run any business alone, especially as a 20 something year old.

Here are a few specific challenges I have encountered while running my business:

I love to do the shopping, but the other parts of the process are less enjoyable. It has been a challenge for me to get motivated to get the boring parts of the process done (shipping, photographing, cleaning, listing, etc.).

But I have to do all of these things to keep my business running and my customers happy. I also don’t have anyone to hold me accountable so it is very easy to slip into a pattern of just doing what is enjoyable and procrastinating the rest. It is a lot of work to do every step of the process, especially when this is not my full-time job.

It is also difficult to say no to inventory when it is very cheap. For example, if I see something for a dollar and I know I can sell it for $10, it can be hard to turn it away. But if I go based on that model, I will have more stuff than I can possibly deal with and I’d rather focus on higher profit items.

It is very easy to think of other resellers as competition. When I first started reselling, I definitely had that mindset and would get competitive and aggressive with the other resellers in the stores.

But there is enough stuff for everyone and being friends with other resellers means you can collaborate, bounce ideas off of each other, commiserate, and more. Now when I see other resellers, I remind myself that them doing their job doesn’t take anything away from me.

The last challenge that I’ve encountered most recently is that there are a lot of haters.

When the CNBC article about my reselling business was published, I was flooded with messages of people telling me that I was stealing from the poor or that I’m what’s wrong with American or that I made up my numbers to get publicity.

I even had people criticizing my looks or telling me that I probably made money on OnlyFans and didn’t want to admit it. Everywhere I look, there is someone telling me that I’m a bad person for running this business, that I clearly don’t care about underprivileged people, or that I’m dumb for thinking that this is a legitimate business.

And at first, those messages were hurtful. But I can’t make everyone happy, and that’s just life.

Now I just remind myself that I created a 6 figure business by myself as a 20 year old and I’m proud of what I’ve built. This job has given me so much joy, independence, and financial freedom and I wouldn’t change it for anything, despite what the haters say.

12. Is clothing resale a competitive market? How do you differentiate yourself from other sellers?

The clothing resale market is very competitive. Almost any time I walk into a thrift store, there is another reseller there.
One thing I do to differentiate myself from other sellers is that I am constantly learning new brands and trends. A lot of resellers know the big brands to look out for, but I have taken the time to learn about thousands of brands that sell well, and that means that I will be able to find inventory that some other resellers may not have known about. In addition, I am very detailed in my listing titles and descriptions, which helps with the SEO. Other than that, I rely on the fact that I have high-quality items at good prices and I have an excellent reputation on the reselling platforms.

13. What advice would you give to someone who wants to start an online resale business?

  • Start small and don’t spend a lot of money. 
  • The best thing to start selling is your own stuff. 
  • Have fun with it and be open to learning.
  • There is a huge learning curve so don’t get discouraged when it isn’t extremely profitable at the beginning. 
  • It takes a lot of time, work, and consistency. Make sure you are willing to put in the work to get results. 
  • Be nice to the workers at the thrift stores! 

14.  How can others find you- as we are all fans of you now?

You can find me on my Substack, Instagram, and YouTube. You can also see my store on Poshmark.

Here are the links:

Substack: https://riegelreselling.substack.com/

Website: https://sophieriegel.com/

Instagram: @riegel.reselling

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAR0bfnb695MPJivlLnPBuA

Poshmark: https://poshmark.com/closet/sophie_riegel

Amazing! Thank you so much Sophie! This is such an awesome interview with so many tips and tricks for online resale. We appreciate you sharing this with us.

Make sure you follow Sophie and check out her other links to find out even more about making over 6 figures by reselling items online!

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