Editor’s note: With slow wage growths throughout the nation and an increasingly-expensive economy, many workers are turning to “side hustles” to earn more money on the side. Over the next few weeks, the Journal is taking a look at some locals who have learned how to utilize this “gig economy,” whether it be through technological, artistic or business-savvy measures, in a series of stories that will highlight different side hustles and how said hustlers became successful in the field. Our second story features Rhiana Graham of Turlock, who earns money by reselling used clothing online.
One woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure. At least, that’s what Graham believes. The Turlock resident has created a secondhand clothing empire, earning $3,000 since she began her side hustle endeavor in April by frequenting consignment stores, clearance racks and even yard sales in search of hot-ticket items she can resell online for a profit.
“I enjoy doing this because it’s kind of like a treasure hunt,” Graham said. “It’s just stuff people have thrown out, and listing something online is so easy.”
In just two months, Graham has reached 10,000 followers on the app Poshmark — a popular site that originally began as a way for users to sell their unwanted clothing, but has quickly seen people like Graham utilize the platform to earn some serious cash.
The concept is simple: Graham searches for on-trend, name brand items that are in demand, then posts them on the website and waits for someone to make a purchase. She currently has 300 items, from designer jeans to hiking shoes, for sale on Poshmark, and has completed about 200 prior sales. The market for online reselling is extremely profitable, she said, but selecting the right merchandise is key.
“A big part of it is learning the trends and studying them. You have to have items that are in demand that people want,” Graham said.
For example, Birkenstock sandals are popular among secondhand shoppers on the site. A pair picked up at a consignment store for just pennies on the dollar can be resold for up to $70 online, Graham said. However, less popular items, though they may have been expensive when originally purchased, rarely bring in the same amount of cash.
“True Religion jeans were popular probably 10 to 15 years ago, and I could probably sell those $200 jeans for only $30,” she said.
When shopping, Graham keeps an eye out for specific items she knows will sell well. She heads to the shoe department first, as they’re worth more to shoppers, but knows useful information about each style and brand. High heels don’t sell as well as athletic shoes, she said, “unless they’re Gucci.” She tries not to purchase anything she knows won’t provide a profit of at least 10 times what she originally paid, she said.
While at the store she checks each item for any stains or tears, then checks the sold listings on Poshmark to ensure the item is actually in demand.
“My goal from the beginning was to do this to make money,” she said. “About a month into it, I started breaking even.”
Graham’s side hustle became a reality on accident more or less, as she was watching YouTube one day when she received a recommendation from the site to view a video featuring a clothing haul from a reseller. An entire year of research later, and Graham’s business is booming on not only Poshmark, but other sites like eBay and Mercari. She typically completes about five sales per day, squeezing in time to list, clean, photograph, package and ship each item when she’s not waitressing.
In addition to working at a restaurant about 30 hours per week, Graham spends an extra 35 hours each week running her Poshmark empire.
“There’s a lot of manual work involved,” she said. “Being an ‘entrepreneur’ — and I wouldn’t call myself that, yet — you have to be accountable for your own time. No one’s telling you to do the work. You have to do it yourself.”
Graham’s days off from waitressing aren’t really days off, she said. Her latest clothing haul took her about seven hours to photograph and list on the site. While the work is time consuming, she wouldn’t have it any other way. She’s become an expert on customer service, and one of her favorite parts about the side hustle is shipping off every item of clothing with love.
“I really enjoy the packaging part because it feels like I’m wrapping presents…I put a bow inside the box and write them a thank you note,” Graham said. “Dealing with customers all night at my regular job is hard, so when I get home and can make a package it’s my de-stressing time.”
For those hoping to start their own reselling side hustle, Graham advised starting at home.
“Start in your own closet…sell your Uggs you don’t wear anymore, or even unused makeup. You can literally sell anything,” she said. “You can find stuff in your house to sell, and then by doing that you get the hang of it.”
While Graham doesn’t see herself relying 100 percent on her Poshmark income anytime soon, for now, she’s enjoying the excitement of it all.
“For now, I like the security of having a real job,” she said. “But going shopping as your job is really fun…I’m excited to do it and I enjoy doing it.”