Hey business babes and eclectic entrepreneurs!
Firstly, if you haven’t read my blog post on ‘Starting a Business’ then do that NOW!
If you’ve read it, and are putting your actions into play, then here’s some more tips and advice about running your own vintage business. I’ll elaborate on things mentioned and add some important lessons I’ve learnt.
Yay, you’ve started getting the ball in motion. Now make it work!
Tell your friends your hawking vintage. Chances are they’ll be your primary customers. They’ll want to support your venture and if they’re a walking advertisement word will spread quickly about where they get their fresh threads.
Tell other innovators about your venture! Networking helped me in my initial setup for the shop. People I’d met became major contributors in helping create the store and its brand. I’d befriended certain professional’s years before in which I received aid in graphic design, publicity and labour when it counted the most.
Now, this isn’t about using people its about creating a network where you’ll support their business too. It should be communal!
Next party you’re at when someone asks you what you do… You’ll confidently tell them: I sell vintage. Network, network, NETWORK!!! Hand out business cards, ask people to follow your Instagram and tell new friends to check out your next market. Be confident in what you’re doing and other people will believe you’re for real!
Understand Your Finances
Start a separate bank account. Don’t justify a fancy business bank account yet. Get a basic account and perhaps a savings account to keep things separate.
Use the basic account for incomings and outgoings. Incomings can include: Online sales, cash/Paypal deposits from market sales and investments you put in. Outgoings can include: Market stall fee’s, online platform fee’s, stock purchases and items you need to run the business e.g. hangers, racks, advertising material.
Keep your savings account for profits. This account can be used to pay yourself or for your savings goals. The savings account will have smaller deposits coming in but leave it to grow and you’ll feel protective of your hard earned savings.
Start a log or an Excel spread sheet to record your finances. This may seem boring or unnecessary to you now BUT I swear it’s beneficial in the long run. Focusing on finances means understanding the health of your business. It’ll give insight to operations, limit unnecessary spending and educate you on pricing. I love learning about how to make my business efficient and the best way to examine this is to frequently review my finances.
Teach yourself basic accounting. Tailor a financial template relevant to you. Logging incomings, outgoings and net profits are all you really need as a beginner.
Know The Costs
Putting a price tag on something and selling it doesn’t mean you get to pocket the cash immediately. Before pricing and collecting profits account for:
- The cost of the item (work out the average of what you buy pieces for).
- Other costs involved (overheads)
Setting prices are experimental initially. You can price items to sell quick OR for its worth as a luxury.
The quicker you turn over items = the quicker you make money. If you’re pricing low and items are selling quickly then you can afford to set your prices higher.
Setting your prices at an increased worth may not sell quickly but when they sell you’ll have more cash to work with.
Once you’ve started selling a bunch then you can review your overheads.
How many pieces are you selling per market/per week/per month? Add up your costs and divide that by the average number of items sold. This equals a basic overhead guide (if you want to get more into overheads you can work it out as a percentage).
Once you've figured out how much your costs + overheads are then add how much you'd like to profit off each items.
Pricing strategy: COST + OVERHEADS + PROFITS.
This system can get more involved as you grow but for now it’s an idea.
Just don’t under sell yourself. Discounting for friends or pricing low because you want your stock to be more affordable means you won’t make the profits required to allow growth for your venture.
You'll be surprised how much your at before you add profits. Running a business ain't cheap!
So be warned, if you're hoping to make loads of cash straight away, THINK AGAIN!
Where to Sell
People do say to me they’d love to open their own shop BUT when selling vintage you really don’t need your own shop to do it. It certainly shouldn’t be the start for you anyway.
As I mentioned in ‘Starting a Business’: Don’t feel like you need to dive into a big ocean. Have a splash in the small puddle first!
It’s imperative to feel out what’s working on a smaller scale rather than make huge mistakes with bigger consequences. I’ve learnt, grown and changed my outlook on business from testing it out.
You should try:
- Markets (I love QVNM, Rose Street and South Melbourne Market). Note: Don't opt for flea markets or car boot sales. People expect bargains and discounts.
- Renting space in someone else’s shop. Ask around places that you're items will suit. From record stores to local boutiques. They could do with extra cash and lease you a rack.
- Having a permanent stall in a market place (stall holder based businesses). I recommend Vintage Garage, Lost & Found or Chapel St Bazaar. The rents are higher but the foot traffic is worth it.
-Online. Etsy is my fave! It's the best platform for vintage. You can often fetch a good price for those top shelf pieces that won't move at a market. You can start your own online store but if you're starting out I'd recommend a well known platform like DePop for beginners.
Hang in there kitty. Good things take time. You won’t see big results straight away. Testing the water may take YEARS!
Pay Close Attention
Ok, so you’re established. You’re peddling items and you’re trying novel places/ways of selling. Now, really pay close attention to what is happening.
- What is selling? / What isn’t selling? / What’s selling straight away
*** Tip: Only continue investing in the items that are selling. Just because you like something doesn’t mean it’s a hot ticket item. I've learnt to focus on popular items over odd items because at the end of the day the bills don't pay themselves!
- What pieces are fetching a decent price? / Are you underselling those items? / What items are people putting back on the rack immediately after they see the price tag?
- Is the places/platforms you’re selling on getting enough traffic? Check online store analytics NOW!
- What are you missing? What needs more attention? Get an outside opinion.
Constantly ask yourself questions. By analysing everything you’ll separate the truths from the estimates.
You Are Your Business
What you put in, you’ll get out.
If I slack off then I’ll see it in my sales. Every exertion I invest is matched by results. People can feel the care put into a business and they’ll want to support things that have a personal touch.
You need to constantly update and refresh. I have more success online when I add new listings weekly. I’ll indeed always sell more if I shift stale stock out and replace it with fresh items.
You’ve got to put in the effort!
ALSO! If this is what you're into, LOOK THE PART! You're selling it, you gotta show off how good it can look!
Before you can afford models in your stocks pictures DO IT YOURSELF. I never liked being my own model but people react well seeing you in your own stuff.
Don’t Give Up!
Sometimes I throw my hands up and think of throwing in the towel.
Running a business is NOT a walk in the park.
It’s a serious investment of time, money, energy and personality!
Ask yourself, HONESTLY, why are you doing this? When the answer isn’t a positive response, well maybe quit while you’re ahead. But if you’re passionate about this business then the resolutions should be optimistic.
I’m doing this because I want to create my own outcomes and benefit solely from my own efforts . I want my shop to add to this diverse city of Melbourne. I’m here to instil affirmation in sustainable fashion. I’m an advocate for giving continuous life to second hand clothing and I LOVE VINTAGE!!!
You’ll know what’s right for you. Shoot for the moon and SLAY!
| Leah |