"At present we are Bronze Power Sellers and are very pleased with the way their business is growing" -Carolyn Newsom
Turning disaster into accomplishment: How 2 sisters grew their e-commerce business to $50K+ in a year to support their seriously ill brother.
Texan sisters Carolyn Newsom and Virginia Ehrlich, of Bootsie's Boutique, are among SaleHoo's excellent success stories. Here they offer their individual pointers and techniques for how they grew a flourishing e-commerce company in order to get more family time and versatility, while still making good cash.
Carolyn Newsom and her sis Virginia 'Bootsie' Ehrlich were working well-paid, full-time jobs when their parents regretfully died within a few months of each other.
The household catastrophe likewise meant the sisters needed to take over the care and financial backing of their brother, Neill, who was a diabetic and double-leg amputee.
But with Neill living a number of hundred miles away from their Texas house, the siblings required work that was more versatile.
They also needed something that would provide a reliable income.
The people who were managing their moms and dads' estate recommended that they look at offering things on eBay.
Offering products online was a foreign idea for Carolyn and Bootsie.
Carolyn was an executive director at a non-profit with 20 years experience in the industry, and Bootsie was a former monetary coordinator, insurance representative, and instructor.
They started in 2007 selling Gorham plates, flatware, and China that can fetch good money on eBay.
But they quickly found they needed more stock to keep bringing in customers, and sales ticking over.
" We initially built the business around things my sister Bootsie liked: Dolls, bears, children's clothing," Carolyn says.
" Of course, we were very excited when all the plates offered, and then other things we purchased or discovered."
They were quickly approached by wholesale providers and began buying some items, such as plus-size females' clothing, in bulk.
They called business, Bootsie's Boutique, and started noting items on eBay more regularly.
In the early days, Carolyn and Bootsie were just making a couple of hundred dollars a month from eBay.
So they started searching forums for creative methods to grow their company, which is when they found Salehoo - see the review here.
Carolyn and Bootsie joined SaleHoo about a year into their company when their initial providers stopped offering the items they required.
Carolyn states they chose SaleHoo over other directory services because of its extensive lists of suppliers and product categories, along with the "incredible, practical" staff.
" It resembled being a kid in a sweet-shop," she states. "No one else compared."
Utilizing SaleHoo, the siblings were able to find the vendors and products they required, most of which they still use today.
They include wholesale sites such as FashionGo for ladies' clothing; The Immediate Resource for senior prom gowns; Entertainment Earth for action figures and toys; and Crayon Kids Fashion for kids' clothes.
Carolyn says they chose plus-size women’s clothing as their niche early on as the market was “very underserved”.
“Plus size ladies love to look great and sexy, too,” Carolyn says.
However, they have since expanded to all types of women’s clothing, prom dresses, flower girl dresses, christening clothing, porcelain dolls, action figures, tea sets and Disney/Mattel and Hasbro dolls.
They also sell gift baskets for different occasions, such as a birthday gift basket, a cheerful “get well” basket, and a romantic anniversary basket via drop shipping.
Carolyn says SaleHoo helped to connect them with great suppliers for each new niche they picked up.
SaleHoo also provided data and information on potential new niche markets, she says.
Some of their most popular products include Halloween costumes, flower girl dresses, christening clothing, children’s play clothes, and toys.
Today, their product range includes pet costumes, Star Wars action figures, lace-lined cocktail dresses, and Kreative Kids soft toys.
Carolyn’s tip for new sellers: “Try to find your niche, but also try to find things that will sell well in all the seasons or holidays.”
Sometimes when one niche is booming, another falls flat which means it helps to spread your business across multiple markets.
Carolyn said they primarily decide to buy wholesale from wholesale suppliers, however, they utilize drop shipping for some products.
Drop shipping is a technique where the seller does not keep items in stock, but rather transfers customer orders and shipment information to a producer, retailer, or wholesaler, who then ships the goods.
Carolyn says drop shipping can be a great way to get begun offering online.
" You can begin by drop shipping so you do not need to carry stock, bundle and mail all the products, and SaleHoo has a lot of great drop shipping vendors for you to use."
She suggests calling drop shipping suppliers to make sure that they can meet your needs in a prompt way.
" You will want a drop ship business that ships their items in 1-2 days to the pleasure of your consumers, not one that takes 2-3 days or has inconsistent stock levels."
Within a year of using SaleHoo, Carolyn and Bootsie had grown Bootsie's Boutique from earning a few hundred dollars a month to more than $50,000 a year.
" It has grown considerably larger than we had ever pictured," she says.
" Connecting with SaleHoo was certainly a turning point."
She puts the success down to "the quality products from trustworthy vendors" discovered on SaleHoo.
SaleHoo has helped Bootsie's Boutique progress from bronze to silver level on eBay where they are now a "premier seller" and have favorable feedback from more than 5000 happy customers.
The forums, newsletters, blog posts, videos and other content from SaleHoo has also helped them to expand beyond eBay. They now have stores on Bonanza.com, Addoway.com, and Etsy.com.
The revenue margins on most of their items are double the wholesale cost, however hard to get products can cost "absurd quantities".
Some products, such as present baskets and silk arrangements, have lower profit margins of 20-25% as there are extra expenses connected with drop shipping.
Diversifying their product range along with their online existence has actually assisted the sisters to sustain steady earnings.
They even established a subsidiary of their company in the name of their sibling, called Neill's Deals, where they primarily offer children's toys.
The sisters used the proceeds from Neill's Deals to assist pay for their brothers living costs and health care.
Carolyn and Bootsie have actually likewise handled to attain their essential goals - more flexibility and household time.
Carolyn says when she was working as an executive director at a non-profit, she was doing 65 to 80-plus hours a week.
" Now it is more like 40 hours. Plus you can work while taking a trip, and can even do drop shipping from practically anywhere."
This allowed the siblings to invest crucial time with their sibling Neill throughout the years prior to he passed away.
They now donate the earnings from Neill's Deals to different charities for children and veterans, along with the Salvation Army, Red Cross, and the National Kidney Foundation.
Carolyn says it's simple to put business "on vacation" and take care of more pushing things.
But the best benefit of offering online is "that household can be first at any time".
In her 9 years of offering online, Carolyn has fantastic guidance for anyone seeking to earn a living in e-commerce.
“Start selling something you love, no longer need, or take advantage of the fantastic help videos on SaleHoo for ideas and data on niche markets.
“When you decide what you want to sell, check the Salehoo directory first for details and reviews on suppliers that sell just about anything you would want to sell or drop ship.”
She says it's crucial to make your eBay listings as "total, truthful and fascinating as possible" to improve search engine optimization (SEO).
“List often, so there is life going through your site.
“Also, update things regularly by adding pictures, changing prices, adding details to the description, title or drop-down menu options/traits. Fill in all that you can, as data is king.”
Carolyn says she and Bootsie likewise took online courses, read articles, and watched academic videos.
“We took advantage of so much that SaleHoo offered and benefitted exponentially.
And posting on social media regularly also assists produce brand name awareness and sales, Carolyn says.
Carolyn and Bootsie have a combined 70,000 followers on Twitter and also use Instagram and Facebook to push their products.
“Set up automatic tweets to post any new items you list or that get re-listed,” Carolyn says.
“Get your friends involved to retweet or post your things on their Facebook or Instagram. Reciprocate.
“If you do not have time to do all the social media posts and marketing, there are many resources available to help. The idea is to get lots of backlinks from such posts to your items.”
At the core of the business was treating their consumers and vendors well and enjoying the ride.
" Thank each customer and supplier," Carolyn states. "Build your business one sale at a time. Have a good time.
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Jeremy Harrison is a 30-something entrepreneur out of Toronto, Canada that is passionate about not getting out of bed, SEO and Affiliate Marketing.