For the two decades she served in the US Air Force, Liz O'Kane was used to taking orders.
When she was deciding on a post-service career, she knew she wanted to be her own boss.
Selling on eBay gave her the freedom she was looking for and connected her with a community she did not expect.
7 Questions with Liz O'Kane of Colorado ReWorn
Visit Liz's store at Colorado Reworn.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Once I retired from the Air Force and was totally self-sufficient, I knew I had to buckle down. I had to have a schedule.
I leaned on the eBay Community. I asked, 'How do you do this day in and day out?' And the sellers were so open. They'd say, 'This is what I do. This is what works for me.' I pieced together the things that would work for me and I implemented them.
At the beginning, I got up at the same time every morning. I had a routine. From 7 to 9, I'd take pictures. From 9 to 11, I'd list. 11 to 12 was lunch. From noon to 2 was shipping, and then anything else that needed to be handled through the end of that day.
It was very regimented in the beginning, because I knew I needed that. I'm a little bit more relaxed now, but I also know that I can have a 4-hour day followed by a 15-hour day, depending on what's going on and what inventory needs to be processed.
What does community mean to you and your business?
For me, being a part of the eBay Community has been vital to me.
I don't think I would have been able to grow like I have without the community-just the amazing things I've learned, the business hacks, business models, the tips and tricks to make your listings better.
The eBay Community is a place where you can go in and give a virtual high five and say, 'Great job' and really uplift and encourage people. And when you share something, you get that in return.
I would probably have given up had it not been for the eBay Community. I would probably have gotten extremely lonely.
My husband has 100% faith in me, but the one thing that he said was, 'I was worried about you that first year selling. You're too social. I didn't think you were going to be able to work at home by yourself.' But through the community, I've been able to balance that work-at-home and also forming those friendships and business connections.
Liz's eBay store allows her to better merchandize her inventory and brand her business.
What's one thing you would tell yourself when you first started your business?
Be flexible. I'd tell myself that ecommerce changes so fast.
I used to get set in one way of doing things. Then it would change and I'd think 'Oh, I've got to change the way I'm doing my business!'
Be flexible. Be ready for change. Be up on current trends and have a good inventory system in place.
What's your process for sourcing merchandise?
My process for sourcing has changed a little bit in the last year and a half.
Prior to that, I sourced a lot of clearance, recycled, and upcycled items. I would follow sales at stores. I signed up for every store's email lists to stay aware of one-day sales or 99-cent sales or special coupons. I would schedule my shopping days around sale days and new merchandise days.
In the last year and a half, that's changed a little bit. I found it easier to do what's called retail arbitrage. That's going into stores that are liquidating merchandise and purchasing those items in bulk, then turning around and listing them for sale.
This has happened quite a few times where I've acquired inventory 200 to 500 pieces at a time. And now I only have to shop once or twice a month.
What's your secret selling power?
For making a successful sale, I like to use eBay's marketing tools.
Everybody loves a sale. Everybody loves a discount. People love free shipping.
To change things up, I use coupon codes and discounts through the Promotions tab in Seller Hub. I find that if I constantly have something going on it really helps my sales.
What eBay tool do you find most useful? Why?
One of my favorite-and most useful- tools is the seller initiated offer or 'send an offer' feature. That is one of my morning routines.
After I ship items, I go straight to Seller Hub and see what items I can send offers on. I send personalized offers and I can do offers in bulk.
I'll send those out and give a personal touch to potential buyers saying, 'Hey, I know you're interested in my item. How about a deal?'
Where do you see your business in 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?
Currently, I'm in a comfortable spot. For the next year, I'm perfectly happy sustaining the way I am.
In the long term, I still want to be a seller that works from her home. However, if you go back to what I said about always being flexible, I'm not opposed to growing to a larger scale operation with two to three employees. I can see myself maybe five years down the road with a business model like that.
But for now I am very comfortable running my business from my house and not having to house my items in other places and have to leave the house for work.
One thing that is so great about being a seller is you can be successful and work out of your garage! You can work out of a bedroom. You can have 200 items and be successful. eBay allows you to do that.
Check back for more seller stories and tips throughout the year on our Announcements board, the eBay for Business Podcast, and our eBay for Business Facebookand YouTube.
This interview has been edited for concision and clarity.
eBay Inc. published this content on 27 July 2021 and is solely responsible for the information contained therein. Distributed by Public, unedited and unaltered, on 27 July 2021 19:19:00 UTC.