You can find Margot Warren’s funky festival clothing selling on eBay. Her shop, Groovy Clothes Boutique, is a rainbow of women’s outfits and accessories located half a world away from those of us in the U.S.
Not too far from Warren, situated on the northeast corner of Australia in Queensland, thousands of people gather annually for the Woodford Folk Festival, a week-long event featuring music, art, workshops and more.
It might be described as a colorful and bohemian affair, which is a perfect fit for this eBay seller of fashionable tie-dye clothing.“I am a hippie at heart, and I adore all these tie-dye clothes”
“I am a hippie at heart, and I adore all these tie-dye clothes,” Warren notes.
Focusing on a niche
Like most successful online sellers, Warren wanted her own business but didn’t have the capital to start a brick-and-mortar enterprise.
Not knowing which way to turn at first, she found and enrolled in an online course by Skip McGrath, she says. It helped her “immensely,” giving her the knowledge and confidence she needed to proceed with an online business.
“I learned that you need to stay focused on one thing that you would like to sell,” she says. “I also learned that if you are selling something that other people are selling—which is nearly everything—you need to brand yourself, even on eBay.”
Warren thoroughly researched her options through Terapeak and narrowed her niche to tie-dye hippie fashion, starting with a handful of pre-owned and discounted women’s clothing.
At the time, she understood other sellers were in the same niche, so she had to boost her company’s reputation by providing quality listings, professional photos and reliable customer service, Warren says. She also found she was eventually able to provide a wider range of clothing options to her customers.
Since opening her Groovy Clothes Boutique in 2008, the seller has amassed a few thousand sales and maintains a 100-percent positive feedback rating.“I learned that you need to stay focused on one thing that you would like to sell”
“One of the most popular products is the rainbow-colored, wide-leg hippie pants,” she reports. “The other popular item is a handkerchief hem starburst tie-dye dress.”
Like many of her products, these are made from rayon and have been purchased by customers for occasions as casual as the beach and as formal as weddings—not to mention the occasional folk festival. Warren also sells a lot of silk dresses made from recycled saris.
“They are so luxurious in beautiful ethnic colors,” she adds.
Finding the right supplier
After her first year selling on eBay, Warren wanted to take her business to the next level. She had been sourcing tie-dye fashions from other eBay sellers and overseas suppliers, but was frustrated with the quality and difference in sizing. That’s when a friend connected her to the owner of Festival Clothing.
As it turned out, Warren has purchased clothes from the supplier for herself in the past when she attended the local folk festival, so “it made sense” for her to stock her eBay Store with his line.
Since that time, Warren has committed to selling only Festival Clothing products. The clothes are imported from India and Indonesia, and Warren makes the 45-minute drive to her supplier twice a month to stock up.
“Going there keeps me motivated, as you see all the action of the shopkeepers coming and buying stock,” she adds.She advises people who are looking for a wholesaler to ask around, go to gift and trade fairs, and even look for supplier information on tags. Then contact those suppliers
Most online sellers who are starting out don’t have the capital to import from China, India, Bali and the like, she notes. She advises people who are looking for a wholesaler to ask around, go to gift and trade fairs, and even look for supplier information on tags. Then contact those suppliers.
Many wholesalers don’t like to supply to small-business sellers, but make sure you’re always honest with them that you intend to resell online, Warren says. If you do get a wholesaler to commit to you, it’s best to find out beforehand if they allow retailers to sell their products on places like eBay.
“Once you start selling those items, people will come from everywhere wanting to sell you their items,” she says.
When it comes to marketing, Warren has her bases covered.
Just a few years ago, when the merchant was getting her business off the ground, it was a popular idea for sellers to host a blog to help promote their businesses. Thus, Warren started one for Groovy Clothes Boutique and found the concept to be somewhat profitable.
Cutting-edge ideas never stay put for long. After the blog fad, sellers began looking to Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to drive more traffic to their shops. Warren uses them all. She also purchased a domain name that links to her eBay Store and uses Web analytics to see what drives her eBay traffic.
“On eBay, if you have a store through Omniture, you can actually see where your traffic comes from,” Warren says. “It also tells you where the sales come from.”
All of her marketing areas contribute to some of her sales, she adds.
Warren also uses Auctiva to list her items and cross-promote more clothes through the software’s Scrolling Gallery.
The future is online“I love selling on eBay. You have the world at your fingertips”
Before going through McGrath’s course, Warren didn’t have anyone to help her get started, she says. Today, with much more experience behind her, she likes to offer advice to others who want to get their online ventures started.
She often helps sellers make their auction titles more powerful and their listings more professional with templates.
“I love selling on eBay,” Warren says. “You have the world at your fingertips.”
Soon Warren will be opening a second eBay Store to sell a different line of clothing she acquired through a local business that closed down. But she also hopes to expand and sell through her own website someday.
This year she expects her online sales to match the weekly pay she gets from her regular employer, she says. When that happens, she would like to make online selling her full-time job, as she believes “the future of all good businesses is to be online.”
Visit Groovy Clothes Boutique.