Salehoo Success Story: How Carolyn and Virginia Made Their Own Success Story (2021)
Find out How Carolyn and Virginia Made Their Own Success Story Below!
Table Of Contents
Bootsie’s Boutique is an online store from Carolyn Newson and her sister, Virginia (Bootsie) Ehrlich; it’s also one of our favorite success stories from Salehoo. Today, we’re going to take a look at how they went from zero to highly successful eCommerce entrepreneurs to make good money without sacrificing their time.
Both sisters used to work full-time at a well-paid job and lived pretty comfortably. That is, until their parents passed away with just a few months in-between.
Needless to say, it was a catastrophe. Not only was it a hard emotional hit, but it also meant both sisters were now responsible for their entire household, including a diabetic brother, Neill, who had both of his legs amputated.
Now, add the fact that Neill lived hundreds of miles away from where they lived; it quickly became obvious that not any job could afford the versatility they needed, especially while generating the income they required.
Luckily, the people in charge of their parents’ estate advised them to think about offering products on eBay. This was a first for both sisters. Carolyn worked as an executive director for a non-profit and had 20 years’ worth of experience in that industry, and Bootsie worked as an insurance representative, instructor, and monetary coordinator.
Starting out on eBay
Their new business started 13 years ago, selling Gorham products for a decent sum on eBay. It was only a matter of time before they discovered they needed to increase their stock if they wanted to keep making sales.
Their first idea was built around Bootsie’s interests: toys and children clothes. They then started discovering new offers, excited at the possibilities they were uncovering. After a while wholesalers started approaching them with more products by the bulk.
This gave birth to Bootsie’s Boutique, starting to list new offers on eBay regularly. It wasn’t instant success, though. They spent quite some time making a few hundreds monthly from eBay.
This prompted them to start diving through forums to grow their business. This is the moment when they discover Salehoo.
How to find a good wholesale directory
It was around their first year with Bootsie’s Boutique when they joined Salehoo; their first providers also stopped stocking them with the amounts they needed.
They also learned about other directories, naturally. However, Carolyn says that their huge list with products and supplier categories – plus the company’s staff – was the decisive factor for them to choose it over its alternatives.
With Salehoo, both sisters quickly found the right products and wholesalers they needed for their business. In fact, they still use most of them today.
Their business sports several categories, and they keep a supplier for each. Ladies’ clothing is supplied by FashionGo. Gowns for senior proms come from The Immediate Resource. Finally, kids’ clothing comes from Crayon Kids Fashion, and their toys and action figures are provided by Entertainment Earth.
Finding your niche
Carolyn and Bootsie decided that they wanted to sell plus-size clothing for women during the early days since the market was mostly ignored – despite the noticeable demand from its audience.
As you might have noticed by now, they’ve expanded quite a bit with what their boutique offers.
Their other niches cover women’s clothing in general as well as “younger” markets like prom accessories, dolls, tea sets, action figures and more. They also offer baskets for occasional gifts. Their listings include baskets for birthdays and anniversaries through dropshipping.
Carolyn states that Salehoo was the best help to connect with a professional supplier for every niche they added to their store. That’s thanks to Salehoo’s extensive data around every niche market as well as their providers.
Their best-sellers seem to be kid accessories: costumes, dresses, play clothes, toys, etc. However, they offer a very varied catalog today, including costumes for pets, branded action figures, cocktail dresses, and more.
Carolyn’s advice is to find niches to focus your store on, yet she also says that you shouldn’t neglect seasonal products that sell better around holidays. Some niches flourish and die as another one takes its place, so adopting new niches with time is also a good idea.
Dropshipping vs bulk purchases
Bootsie’s Boutique prioritize bulk orders from different wholesalers, but some of their products work through dropshipping.
For those who don’t know, dropshipping is an eCommerce model. It revolves around offering products directly from your supplier. You don’t keep nor invest in stock and storage; instead, you forward your customers’ orders to your supplier, who takes care of packaging and shipping the products. You then pocket the difference between your price and theirs.
Carolyn admits dropshipping is an excellent way to start your own online business. According to her, you can start with this model to save money and time on stock and shipping; plus, Salehoo has many dropshipping suppliers you can use.
However, she does advice you to take measures like calling suppliers before committing to ensure they can meet your requirements promptly. That usually means shipping in a couple of days to keep customers happy and staying away from inconsistency with their stock numbers.
Making a stable income
As you know, they were making a few hundreds monthly last time we mentioned their income. Well, you’ll be surprised to know that they now earn over $50,000 every year. Even they admit their business has grown over their expectations and that Salehoo was pivotal for that milestone.
Carolyn narrows down their success to being able to get quality items from reputable vendors through Salehoo. The platform helped them climb all the way to silver on eBay, and they’re currently premier sellers with positive reviews from thousands of costumers.
Of course, they’ve also expanded beyond the platform thanks to assorted content from Salehoo, and they currently run simultaneous stores with Bonanza, Etsy, and Addoway. In each store, their revenue for most items doubles their wholesale price – the exception being harder products to get.
Products like their present baskets sport lower margins capping at 25% because of dropshipping expenses. However, they’re still profitable while helping them embrace different markets to improve their earnings.
They even created a subsidiary named Neill’s Deals, where they sell toys for children. All proceeds coming from this secondary store used to go into paying for his costs and health. Now that he’s passed away, all of its revenue goes to different charities like the Red Cross and the Salvation Army.
Time and flexibility
Even after years of running a business, the sisters still keep their goal of keeping their time and flexibility.
Carolyn’s previous job had her doing around 70 weekly hours on average. She now says her working hours have been reduced to 40, which she can do remotely anyways, so she’s not tied to an office.
Of course, this has allowed them to invest time with Neill up until he passed away. That’s also one of the main benefits of their business: being able to take vacations whene ver they need.
Some tips for aspiring eCommerce entrepreneurs
Carolyn’s advice can be easily summarized into a few key points:
- Start out with products you love, taking advantage of Salehoo’s analytics to find ideas.
- Use their directory to find reputable suppliers once you know what you’ll sell.
- Spend good time writing your eBay listings to improve your SEO. For the same purpose, add new listings and update your existing ones often.
- Learn as much as you can.
- Build your brand on social media as much as you can.
Be patient and take each sale as a significant step towards your goal.
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