How She Thrifted to Help Pay For College

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Here is the article from Cailey, the second place winner of the 2018 Well Kept Wallet Scholarship!

It’s no secret; college is expensive.

Future students and their families will have to save for many years before they will enter those University doors. Throughout middle school and high school, I knew this expense would weigh heavy on me, so I decided to act!

Around age 14 I began the process of saving. But because I was so young, I was unable to get hired for a job.

I could have done what many of my friends did, babysit, watch dogs, or something related to the two. Instead, I decided to mix something I was knowledgeable and passionate about. So I started my own clothing resale business.

Starting a Thrifting Business

Thrift shopping or “thrifting” is something I absolutely love.

My mom and I would go weekly to find the best deals for things like clothing and household décor. As we continued to thrift, we began to learn a lot about the process.

On certain days there would be different sales which would result in even lower prices. I started to sell some of my own clothing and shoes I was no longer wearing or was not getting the most use out of in my closet.

At first, selling clothes online was something I would occasionally do with my own clothing. Before long, I didn’t have an abundance of clothes lying around to sell, so I decided to branch out with my thrifting.

Learning the Process

Through my selling experience, I began to keep track of which brands would sell better and how much most items would sell for.

Reselling started slowly. I would be out thrifting and would see something I didn’t particularly need, but I knew someone else would love the piece.  One day I decided to pick up an item with the purpose of reselling or flipping it.

I ended up listing a sweater online which I had bought for around $4, and I sold it a few days later for $22. It was an amazing feeling; I suddenly had a way to gain money without having to wait for my birthday or Christmas.

I began to take my flipping profits and started to purchase more and more pieces of clothing with the intent of selling them. Before long I had an inventory of clothing pieces stored in bins, just waiting to be sold.

Growing the Business

I started going to thrift stores with the total purpose of finding clothes to resell. I can spend hours looking through clothes trying to find the best items; it is like a game to find the perfect pieces.

Each item is thoroughly inspected as there is nothing worse than bringing an item home, only to find it had holes or stains. Defects lower the worth of the clothing piece and in the end how much I can profit off of it.

To keep track of sales, I created a spreadsheet on excel describing the item, its brand, how much I paid, how much it sold and calculate my profit after platform fees. The spreadsheet helps me keep track of my small business and all of my spending and profits.

Increasing Sales

Not only is it important to find the best pieces, but it’s also important to take quality pictures.

One important aspect of selling clothes are the pictures, I could have a great quality item, but if I don’t capture it well enough in a photo, no one will buy it.

I take a lot of pride in my photos, often taking many until I feel I have the prime picture. I branched out by having others model the clothes for my pictures or taking pictures in natural lighting with unique backgrounds.

As I began to have more success in my business, I invested in a mannequin to help display the clothing. Mannequins or models help to give the buyer an idea of how the clothing pieces would look when worn.

Where to Sell Clothes and The Importance of Customer Service

I use several apps to list and promote my items. Each app thrives on having followers; the more followers the more exposure.  On one of the apps, I gained 18k followers, many who became repeat customers.

Keeping customers happy was a top priority, as a happy customer will return for more items or encourage new buyers who may be leery of purchasing online.

One of the ways I continue to gain 5-star reviews is my packaging. I have invested in different packaging, ordering unique poly mailers to make me stand out.

I wrap each item as if it is a present with tissue paper and ribbon. To top off my packages, I include a handwritten note with my logo, thanking the customer for buying and asking them to come back soon.

The feedback I have received from packaging is amazing. Many people appreciated getting their package with a little extra love inside, and I soon found that carefully packaging my items was one of my favorite parts of selling; next to thrifting!

What She’s Doing Today

Currently, I am a freshman in my first semester in college. The money I have made through my little business went into a savings account which is now helping me with some of my college expenses.

I continue to sell items while I am at school to allow me to have a little bit of spending money.

My small business taught me at a young age how to save my money, invest in myself, the importance of customer service and the benefit of working hard.

My business has slowed down since I started college, but it is something I thoroughly enjoy doing. And I plan to continue reselling clothes in the future. I enjoy turning my passion into something that helps to fund my education and my future!