Instead of waiting tables through college, Lauren Lee is studying labels, fabric and the telltale signs of counterfeit.
And she’s good at it. The 21-year-old at the University of California, Davis, makes about $550 a month reselling garments and accessories on sites like Poshmark, Mercari, Depop and eBay.
That’s likely higher than the norm, a U.S. Bank analysis found.
The bank looked at total earnings deposited in customer accounts by 45 companies associated with gig work. Poshmark ranked sixth on the list, depositing $12.2 million in customer accounts between July 2018 and June 2019. But with thousands of customers receiving payments, that amounted to only $150 per customer per month.
Another resale site on the list, Mercari, deposited $4.6 million in accounts, averaging $147 per person per month.
Resale is one of the most popular ways that people make extra money, but it’s not necessarily the most lucrative. It can take more time, knowledge and care than people realize, Lauren says.
We talked to her about how she got started, what it takes to be successful, and her advice for others considering the same path.
Lauren’s gig started in 2017, when she became interested in the impact of fashion on landfills. “It’s incredible the amount of clothing waste that gets dropped off every day,” she says. “Reselling is good for the environment, and I’m really excited to be part of it, because I think this is how we need to go forward.”
For her first sales, she turned to her mother, whose closet included a few vintage Coach bags and barely worn designer shoes. As word spread about her goal of earning spending money for college, she began receiving other donations from family friends, her doctor and even some of her doctor’s clients.
Today, she supplements such contributions with finds from thrift stores in the Bay Area, where designer clothes are abundant. At each store, she might spend an hour or two sifting through the racks, with a goal of spending $5 to $7 per item.
“Now I’m knowledgeable enough that I can just touch something and say, ‘Oh, this is real leather,’ or ‘Oh, this is really well-constructed,’ or ‘This seems expensive.’”
After reading blogs and eBay guides, she also knows everything from how to spot fake designer goods to which Levis label is from the brand’s most sought-after era. (Spoiler: It’s 1975 to ’79.)
After purchasing an item, Lauren takes clear, closeup photos in natural light, then posts the pictures and detailed descriptions online.
Her Poshmark closet contains about 500 items for sale, each of which is carefully stored in bins or hanging in the guest room at her family’s home. When an item is purchased, she pulls up a spreadsheet that tells her which bin to find it in.
She loves the freedom of working on her own schedule, while at the same time building her résumé. The message she hopes to send to future employers: “I have the maturity and responsibility to handle something of this scale and pull it off and make money. I think those are valuable skills to have.”
Laurens’ resale tips:
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You can find Lauren Lee’s closet on Poshmark and Depop under the name @hyacin, and on eBay as @hyaceen.