When I was a newlywed, I knew I had to do something about my penchant for vintage fashion. We were making pennies and spending dimes, so they say, and even though I wasn’t shelling out tons of cash for my thrifted vintage wares, I knew that I couldn’t possibly wear the pieces enough times myself to justify how often I was shopping for them. My thrifting habit was becoming a daily thing (anyone else?), so I started looking for an outlet. This was back in 2010, when Etsy was really finding its footing as an e-commerce platform. I decided to become an Etsy reseller to somehow, some way, turn a profit from my passion and habit.
I sold on Etsy for three years before closing up shop, having my first baby, and giving the remainder of my lot away to friends and family members who shared my style. However! I had a ton of fun when I was selling and I’ll always look back on that time in my life with pride and joyous reflection. Here are a few things I learned along the way.
1. Specifics are king.
At first, I thought I could simply post a few pictures of myself wearing each piece and smiling, and people would automatically be able to tell the size, shape, material, and label of the clothes I had on. After receiving a flood of inquiries about one particularly beautiful sundress with umbrellas all over it, I realized I needed to get more specific in my sizing and descriptions.
I started listing every single measurement available for every piece. For blouses, this meant the bust, arm length, shirt length, width when laid flat, shoulder-to-shoulder measurement, and more. Pants had their own variables, as did skirts, suits, blazers and nightgowns. I also started listing the manufacturer, material, exact size on tag, and even care instructions to make sure I didn’t miss any detail that someone may deem important.
While I’m glad I was able to provide my buyers with that kind of attention to detail, I also learned that figuring out those measurements can take a ton of time and if you get them wrong, it’s on you. It became even more difficult when I was trying to lie a garment flat to measure, and baby feet would come scurrying by and wrinkle it all up, hence why I decided that being a mama reseller wasn’t in the cards at the time. Still, that critical step gave me a chance to get up-close and personal with every item I sold, and I enjoyed the process overall.
2. Images are everything.
This is a true story. One of the very worst fights I ever got into with my new husband was over the quality of images he was shooting for my Etsy reseller shop. This was before DSLR cameras took off and bloggers were putting together posts more beautiful than a photo-journalism spread in the New York Times. Rather, we started out with a good, old-fashioned Canon point-and-shoot.
We took pictures of me wearing the clothes in front of our old white shed, then decided it was too light and washed me out. Then, we took them in front of the side porch, but the brick made me look ruddy. I’d be a sweaty mess in the summer evenings and get mad that my hair looked flat. When daylight savings time would end in the fall, it would be dark before my husband got home from work and we’d be forced to take our pictures inside (shudder!) I found a reason to complain about every single picture, then begrudgingly put them online because I had absolutely nothing else to work with, and studies show that humans are highly visual creatures.
Thankfully, we finally caught up with technology and started taking pictures with our iPhones, which greatly enhanced the process. I also worked with a high school friend to take professional pictures in a local park. I sold more in my last year than in the two years combined, and I attribute that solely to the fact that my images just looked better.
3. Feedback is going to happen.
I’m a sensitive, tender-hearted person. I still remember every single time a teacher called me down in class and I can recall with scary detail each time I was called a name or bullied throughout my school years. Thankfully, those incidents are very few and far between, but the truth is, I’m a people pleaser by nature and any time that goes awry, my world gets shaken up.
As an Etsy reseller, I naturally interacted with the public on an almost-daily basis. I’d do my best to make every experience and interaction a positive and encouraging one. I’d shop around for little trinkets to add into my packages, and would tie them with vintage twine and lace for a special touch. Still, I got a few things wrong along the way. In my personal note to one seller, I addressed him as “Miss” and received a firmly written feedback that we shouldn’t assume someone’s gender based on an item purchase. Very, very valid point made. Those moments served as building blocks to help me become a more patient, discerning, and careful seller, so I’m grateful for them now, though I have to admit the negative reaction did sting at the time.
Overall, my experience as an Etsy reseller was great, and I’m happy to see the platform is still as popular and going strong. One of my favorite parts about that period of my life is that, at that time, my dad was a postal clerk at our local post office. Every day on my lunch break, I would go to see him with an armful of packages to be delivered. I’d bring him a muffin from the bakery or a canned soda and we’d chat for a second before I had to head back. He’s retired now and I get to see him every day, but there was something special and sacred about making that journey to visit him at work that I’ll never forget.
What about you guys? Have any of you ever sold on Etsy and if so, what was your experience like? I’d love to hear it, so share in the comments below!