Time to finally unmute. After almost three years of admittedly neglecting this space, it’s finally time to open up about the wonderful experience of starting my own online vintage shop. If you’ve been around a while, you know I’ve always had a passion for thrifting outfits and sharing my finds. Now I do it on a daily basis!
From countless hours in small thrift shops to dancing to Enny Owl’s latest album while photographing inventory to relaxing mornings sipping lattes and hand writing thank you’s…
When it becomes hard to pick a favorite part of the job, you know it’s the right fit.
I’ve had many people reach out to me about starting their own shop asking for insider tips. A few things to keep in mind before diving in: The resale market is currently “the” trendiest way to shop sustainably and this has caused a larger competitive market. With so many shops, it can be a challenge to balance finding your niche and appealing to the current trends. But on the flip side, more and more people are headed online to curate their own wardrobes! It’s amazing to see the shift towards secondhand markets and recycling clothing into the mainstream narrative. The greatest downfall of many newer shops is that they copy or mimic what others are doing. And honey, that is not cool! Being genuine is a key part of gaining momentum. Another thing to remember is that it takes time to grow an online presence and retain a customer base. (I just recently became a verified top seller, after three years of busy hard work!) Overnight success is rare. It’s important to remember the journey of high’s and low’s makes reaching goals that much more rewarding. And lastly, there isn’t a consistent or constant income. Slow sale days (ughh, or weeks) can be a deal breaker for many. Reselling is real work! Often people reaching out for quick advice forget this simple truth.
If you have a passion for thrifting, enjoy creative styling, and like promoting an eco-conscious lifestyle… GO FOR IT! Opening up shop can be a great opportunity to express these passions and make a small profit. And if you stick with it, a fully supporting career.
In a sea of resale apps, why Depop?
Beyond the user friendly interface and trendy layout, I love the fearless and individualistic users. This is the marketplace that celebrates finding yourself through fashion and self-expression. (Which fun fact: I wrote a college essay linking these both to confidence levels!) I also appreciate the inclusive and supportive community. I’ve become close friends with other shop owners and had the amazing experience of meeting up for coffee with a few customers while traveling!
Another great aspect of Depop over other platforms are the pop-up events and in person workshops held at their New York City and Los Angeles spaces. They truthfully understand the importance of building relationships with other users. The company also has a reputation for supporting independent musicians, innovative fashion designers, and other creative ambitions. Which is AMAZING!
Nothing beats being my own boss.
The most invigorating part of this whole experience is knowing that I’m fully in charge of all decisions. I hand select each item. I choose the creative direction. I design the thank you’s. I interact with my customers. Being able to say, I do everything is a powerful feeling. I love my job so much, that spreading myself too thin was an issue I didn’t recognize at first. My biggest goal for this year is to find a better balance. I invested in a planner to map out my daily goals and priorities. And I was recommended a 9 hour work schedule with a break for lunch. (Invaluable advice from my best friend!)
Another great aspect of owning my own shop is being able to take mental health days as needed. Taking time to read a collection of poetry or hike with my camera always refreshes my spirit. A little break also allows me to reflect on how gratifying it is to live out my dream job.
Road Trip Anyone?
“Hey google, where is the nearest thrift shop?” I have my favorite local spots to hit up, but sourcing vintage can end up taking you on some wild and fun adventures. Especially if you live in a larger city, sometimes driving to rural towns and neighborhoods, you’ll find that overall, clothing is less picked over. Some of my greatest prairie dress lots were found in an itty bitty independent shop across the country! I also love bonding with friends and family over 70’s fringe and 60’s florals in cluttered shops with throwback radio in the background.
Dream big and get busy.
One of my proudest accomplishments was sewing my first mini collection! “Mute Style Originals” exist in this world! It’s still a surreal feeling reminiscing setting up my machine outside in my garden and creating with the birds in the trees and sun on my cheeks. I sustainably soured all materials and scrap fabrics from garage sales and consignment shops scattered across my home state. I also reimagined vintage home decor like lace curtains into crop tops and tablecloths into dresses.
Creating is a very time-conscious endeavor that has been hard to grasp as of recently. One of the main reasons I’ve been on a sewing hiatus; I don’t want to become resentful when items are still hanging in my “finished” closet months later. The pure joy of creating is something that needs to be unwavering during the creative progress of a garment. The overwhelming kindness of the community during these discouraging moments really instills enthusiasm to get back at it. (Huge shoutout to my instagram friends) ❤︎
Just the thought of someone living their own special moments in a piece I created is a highlight of my day.
Looking back three years, I can without hesitation proclaim that becoming a Depop shop owner has transformed my life. I have found an outlet to share my passions of pre-loved vintage and an eco-friendly lifestyle all while making a livable income. And I was courageous enough to start my own line! Mental health will always be a journey of peaks and valleys, but I can say that the unpredictability of this job has made me more aware and responsive to my emotions. I’ve grown so much.
Mute Style Guide to Depop:
I’m by no means an expert reseller. (Don’t let that tiny blue checkmark fool you!) But over the past few years I have compiled some insight into habits that have helped me reach my goals.
- Photos! Photos! Taking eye catching shots of your items is a great way to increase interest. Sometimes it’s as simple as clearing out a designated photo space or investing in some quality lighting. Modeling or flat lays, clear photos that showcase the items are very important. Another fun way to stand out is to utilize your unique neighborhood or favorite space in your city for your shoots. When the weather allows, I love stepping outside for nature days!
- Stay active. Quick responses to messages and spread out posting helps increase the visibility of your shop. Another great way to keep people engaged is sharing to instagram. (The in-app feature makes it super easy!)
- Resilience. I cannot put enough emphasis on how important it is to be able to adapt to challenges and setbacks. Staying positive and imaginative with sales and promotions during dips in sales is critical.
- Bookkeep like a pro! I personally use a simple Excel spreadsheet to keep track of all expenses. It’s a life saver come tax season. And it’s also a helpful tool to track trends and stay organized.
- Check your inventory. Is your shop starting to look like every other shop on the platform? Careful curation is a great way to grow a following. My thrifting routine is to pull lots and edit back. (Yes it’s time consuming, but your final cart should spark joy!)
- Sustainability! Every shop has their own journey. I started out using USPS free shipping supplies because of finances. But over time as my shop grew, investing in biodegradable packaging was an important milestone and goal. Just remember to go at your own pace and know that combating fast fashion is a good foundation for an eco-friendly shop.
- Be TRUE to yourself. The most cliché of all advice, but owning a shop you are proud of and curating items that you would personally rock around the block are also great ways to truly shine on Depop! A glimpse at your shop should feel like a glimpse into your diary.
I’d love to keep the discussion going! If you have any specific questions about the reseller lifestyle or crazy customer experiences of your own, sharing is encouraged! Leave a comment below.