110: Building Her Business Empire In A Clutch – Andrea Harrison

Andrea is a retail veteran and a former Macy's Media Buyer, who turned her hobby of selling on eBay into a successful online handbag store. She started selling in 2009 after Macy's decided to move corporate to New York. She decided to embrace this new opportunity and become a full-time entrepreneur which allowed her flexibility and the ability to spend more time with her son.

Interesting Notes

  • Andrea used to work part-time at Macy's. His son would help her box the items. Back then, they did not have printed labels. Everything is done manually.
  • Her friend who worked at Macy's too advised her to get rid of her son's outgrown clothes and sell it on eBay. That is how Andrea started selling part-time on eBay at around 2004. She switched her other account into all handbags.
  • Macy's decision to move corporate to New York left Andrea with two options. Her first option is to move to New York too, with his son, and try to find a job in Macy's. Her second option is to stay and make selling on eBay a full-time venture and see what will happen.
  • With her desire to be home with her son when he would get home from school, Andrea chose the second option.
  • Andrea found segueing from Macy's to eBay full-time as extremely scary. She went from having a guaranteed paycheck to supporting herself and her then 7-year-old son.
  • She was doing okay selling part-time on eBay. She thought that if she has to pump up the volume and adds more inventory, her eBay biz would be a success.
  • Her little money in the bank and her severance pay served as her buffer. It provided her needs between those months when she had to gear up and go from having 50 items for sale to 250 items.
  • She sources her items from wholesalers who sell second hand and items with little damage or defects.
  • One day, someone emailed her and wanted to know if Andrea can sell her products on consignment. The lady is moving to Belgium. Andrea asked for the photos of the items. The lady sends her 25 photos. Andrea recognized all the items and asked the lady where she gets her items. She told Andrea the sites.
  • Andrea had no idea then. But, she did a research and found out that there are a lot of sites that sell authentic handbags. With that, Andrea's business turned around.
  • She has a lot of handbags. But, because she is working from home now, she has a policy that if she keeps one, she has to sell one.
  • Over time, Andrea became an authority in authentic bags. She started by observing the little details, the stitching, the seams and the hardware. Now, she knows the kind of the bodies and the shapes of authentic handbags like Micheal Kors, Tory Burch York, Rebecca Minkoff, Coach.
  • She noticed that certain manufacturers have their own certain styles and patterns. If Andrea is in the store, she can be 20 or 30 feet away from someone, but she can tell if the bag is real or not.
  • She believes that branding is still very important. We are in the society and at a time when the label is making a big general statement. So labels still matter.
  • She thinks that her store is still relevant. It carries the brand names that are very familiar to customers or buyers. The majority of the people look not to the higher priced items like Gucci or Louis Vuitton, but on what they can afford. From her eBay store, you can get a $400 bag for the price of only $150. It is the same bag and is authentic and still in great condition.
  • Her eBay store is a product of active content and is going reconstruction due to eBay policy.
  • Statistics showed 55% to 60% of her customers use mobile phones to buy her bags. She wants the users to have a friendly and easy experience. So, even if she puts a lot of time, effort, and money, she has to follow eBay's policy and make it work. She believes that doing so, she could get the end result and increase her sales.
  • She has a guy who is working on her eBay store to make it mobile friendly to her visitors.
  • Andrea knew that photography is not her expertise. She knew too that photography and photos are very important when selling on eBay. So, she hires a photographer to take pictures of her merchandise in a white and crisp background. Usually, she would have 5 views per bag. She zooms the defect of the items so that the buyers would be aware of what the defect is.
  • She also has one assistant that comes in to help with her inventory and whatever help Andrea needs. She comes 3 to 4 times a week depending on need. When Andrea goes on a vacation, the assistant would do everything that needs to be done.
  • Everything Andrea receives is bags or vendors that she is familiar with. Sometimes, she receives something that is not familiar, but it is out in the market. It is not obscure and it does not take much time to find out its value, or if it is valuable or not.
  • At present, Andrea's son is a Freshman in College. He is almost 19 and stands 6'2 in height.
  • Andrea works 8 hours or 12 hours a day depending on her needs. Her day schedule varies.
  • She tried expanding into different categories, like clothing and designer jeans. But she got caught up with items that are counterfeit and dealt with the returns. And that scared her.
  • She also has done with accessories and luggage. It's done well, but the items are hard to find.
  • She continues to figure out what else can she expand into.
  • Andrea also wants to get more into consignment where people would give her their bags. She would take the photos and the ownership of the bags and sell it for them.
  • She would love to cut out the middleman and goes right for the juggler, and that is her.
  • She uses Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to promote her eBay store. Though she has 20,000 Facebook fans, she is moving away from Facebook. She focuses more on Instagram because it is a perfect fit for her handbags.
  • She runs a contest on her Instagram and Facebook Fan Page. Her followers and fans get the chance to win one of her handbags if they like her page, make a comment, or tag someone.
  • A couple of days before the interview, Andrea hits 10,000 feedbacks.
  • Visit her Instagram (@Inaclutch ) and in 3 easy steps, win one of her $400 handbags. The contest is until June 26, 11:59 pm.

Quotes

  • “Sometimes it is okay to be open and help someone along the way. It always comes to a full circle.”
  • “Our mobile phones become an extension of us. It becomes our third arm!”
  • “Imagery and photos are so important when selling on eBay.”
  • “No two days are alike!”
  • “I can be across the world and I know exactly where everything is.”
  • “If you're not a player, you've got to play!”
  • “Your mind becomes what you do all the time.” – Ali Young

Contact Information

Sponsors