Dawn Sander of Redlands, California
Until six years ago, Dawn Sander was working as a floor representative in the DVD department of her local WalMart in her home town of Redlands, California. Like most, she worked long hours and made a meager living, but had no immediate plans to change career paths. In 2004, Dawn suffered a brain aneurysm rupture that required surgical intervention to repair. The rupture combined with the invasive brain surgery left Dawn without her left eye, and functioning at the cognitive capacity of no more than a 2-year-old child. Over the two years following the aneurysm, she underwent a series of rehabilitation treatments that allowed her to regain her cognitive functions and she has worked hard to get close to where she was prior to her injury.
Thinking she was out of the woods, Dawn began to look for a new full time job to get her finances back up to a livable level after years of rehabilitation and costly treatments. Unfortunately, she began to suffer through intense panic attacks right around the time she was due to resume employment. A series of tests discovered that they were not panic attacks, but seizures brought on by the residual effects of the aneurysm rupture. Suffering from regular seizures, there was no way that Dawn could realistically hold down a full time job and be as dependable as she had been years before, and she had to find another way out.
“My sister had been thinking of ways to help me get back on my feet,” said Dawn, “so she started an eBay store for me with just a couple of items we had laying around the house to try and make a little money.” Dawn says she had never purchased anything on eBay and was unfamiliar with how it worked, but her sister’s persistence motivated her to if there was potential to develop this new venture. She slowly began to develop it and upon running out of items to sell from her closet, she began to look for product to add to her store. “I started ordering wholesale lots through liquidation companies like Via Trading Corporation, and reselling it for profit.”
Dawn describes her process as time consuming but worthwhile. She focuses on high end and designer clothing for women as these are items of personal interest to her, and items that sell very well through her chosen channel of eBay. Her sales process involves researching the lots she’d like to buy, sourcing them and receiving them at her home. She then sets up each article of clothing on her display mannequin, takes pictures of it from several angles, writes a detailed description of it (materials, sizing, measurements, original retail price) and lists it on her eBay store. She began selling items individually by the piece. Over time as she grew her selection of clothing, she began to offer shipping discounts to customers who purchased multiple lots at one time. She is now selling as many individual pieces as she is selling small wholesale lots to customers all over the globe on a weekly basis. Her customer base is primarily women and she ships orders all over the globe every week. “I have customers everywhere, even in Australia,” she says.
Dawn promotes her business primarily through word of mouth. Since eBay is a global marketplace in itself and each listing stands on its own based on a user’s search query, she finds it unnecessary to spend a lot of time or money on advertising. “People find me because they’re looking for a great deal on designer clothing,” she says. “They wear their clothing out and about and refer their friends, family and colleagues to my store." Given the nature of her injury and her frequent seizures, it is imperative that she remain as close to home as possible during the day. She is also the primary caretaker of her elderly mother who requires assistance with day to day activities. Over the last 5 years, Dawn has increased her sales volume tenfold and now supports herself and her family exclusively through the eBay sales of designer clothing she sources. “I am making way more money than I ever was at WalMart,” she describes, “and I get to stay home to do it.”
Her best advice for others who want to work from home either by choice or by necessity is to “go for it but don’t’ expect riches overnight. It takes work and time to get everything up and running and to where people trust you. Take care of your customers and they will talk about you and grow your business for you. Your customers are your best assets.” Dawn’s business is consistently growing and while sales fluctuate with the time of year and things did take a hit with the economic downturn in 2008, perseverance has paid off and 2010 saw the highest profits she has ever had since she launched the business in 2005. She speaks proudly of her achievement, her ability to set up a new business she knew nothing about, learn the ropes and make a better living than she did when she was employed.
Check out Dawn’s eBay store at dawns_designer_clothing.