JULIE England, 43, began reselling on eBay seven years ago and has earned thousands. The mum of four says it has changed her life.
Julie England tells her story to Martha Cliff.
After handing over another pile of packages at the Post Office, I opened my eBay app to check my 90-day sales total.
A thrill buzzed through me as I saw I’d made a whopping £6,000.
At £2,000 a month, it was equivalent to the salary of a full-time worker, yet I’d put in just four hours a day from home.
It’s also VAT-free while I’m under the £85,000 earnings threshold.
In October 2016, I gave up my minimum-wage job as a nursery practitioner after the birth of my son Dexter.
I was suffering mum guilt and wanted to find a way of making a living without sacrificing time with him.
My husband Robert was selling quite a lot on eBay, but as I had no idea what would sell well, it wasn’t until almost three years later that I gave it a go.
I headed to my local charity discount store, run by Devon House, where I’d previously volunteered – any unsold stock from its charity shop branches goes to the discount store and you can bag real bargains.
I spent £100 buying 100 items of unsold stock and clothing seconds from high street brands including Next and River Island, with my only goal being to break even when I sold it online.
When you first start up an eBay store, people can be reluctant to purchase from you as you have no feedback.
So I began doing auctions with a starting price of 99p to attract bidders.
Selling things cheaply built up my feedback and over a few weeks I made £200 selling the stock I’d bought – a profit of £100.
Once I had a few five-star reviews, it meant I could up my prices, but it took about six months to work out what sold and what didn’t.
There was a lot of trial and error, as fashion trends are constantly changing, but I soon learned the best way to keep on top of them was in magazines, fashion accounts on Instagram and TikTok, and asking my daughters what was ‘in’.
I realised quite early on that big-name brands aren’t necessarily going to make you a huge profit.
I assumed the likes of Ted Baker and River Island would sell well, but they often didn’t because there are so many other people reselling them, which actually brings the price down.
Less well-known brands, such as Mint Velvet and Gina Bacconi, sell very well, though they can be harder to find in the first place.
It’s worth the hunt, however – I once found a black Gina Bacconi maxidress in perfect condition in a charity shop for £12, and sold it for £100 two weeks later.
Another time, I came across a Kenzo silk skirt at £2 – I couldn’t believe my luck.
I took it to the till and they had a half-price sale, so I got it for £1. I ended up selling it for £160 – my biggest profit to date.
Another big win was on a Dolce & Gabbana black dress that I paid £10 for in a charity shop and sold within a week for £100.
I don’t feel the charity shops are losing out, as I spend a lot of money in them myself, and always pay the asking price. I also give back to them by donating items of clothing that haven’t sold.
Over the years, I’ve honed my skills at picking stuff that will sell.
At the moment, vintage clothing sells fastest, as people know they won’t find another piece like it.
I spend around £500 a month, mainly in charity shops, but also through Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree, car-boot sales and eBay sellers.
Reselling has changed my life – and my family’s – for the better.
Rather than being a slave to a boss, I can work around commitments with the kids, packing parcels and buying new stock when they’re at school.
I also spend time recording YouTube videos – I have around 2,000 followers after starting my account in March 2020 – explaining what reselling involves and passing on tips for making a profit.
I would encourage anyone wanting to follow in my footsteps to go for it.
I used to really struggle with leaving the kids in childcare to go to work, or if I needed to take time off when they were sick – it caused me so much unnecessary stress, all for just minimum wage.
My only regret is that I didn’t make the switch sooner.”