What It's About
A first generation immigrant creates a second income buying and reselling vintage clothing.
Words of Wisdom
Liz used the pop-up shop through Topshop to explore whether her unique vintage items would sell. Much to her surprise, they sold quite well, so she decided to focus on them more. This pop-up shop also made Liz organize and up-level a lot of things about a business: she redid her website, started hiring professionals to photograph her items, and she learned how to use the camera herself.
You may be wondering about the origins of the name of Liz's shop, Odessa Rae. Well, Odessa is the city in Ukraine where Liz’s parents are from, and Liz started Odessa Rae with her best friend, whose middle name is Rae. Unfortunately, scheduling made it impossible for the friend to remain a partner (she’s a nurse who worked nights), so Liz is running things solo.
Notes from Chris
By day, Liz Zavoyskiy is the business development lead for an entertainment and media investment fund in New York City. By night—and on weekends—she runs Odessa Rae, an online shop that sells custom, one-of-a-kind vintage clothing. Liz didn’t have plans to open a vintage clothing shop, but a series of events, including an accidental eBay purchase and the launch of a friend’s blog, sent her down the fashion runway. Liz grew up in Brooklyn, NY, the daughter of two immigrant parents from Odessa, Ukraine. She recalls the immense cultural shock of being around really wealthy people during her freshman year at NYU. The insecurity about her wardrobe, at least in comparison to some of her peers, led her to the vintage shopping world of New York—where she could find special items of clothing, sometimes at a special price—if she looked hard enough. This search eventually morphed into a love of all things pre-owned. A few years later, in 2016, a friend was launching a blog and wanted a branded piece of clothing for a photo shoot. By this point, Liz had expanded her shopping to eBay and was really into 70s-era denim. She and the friend were browsing eBay and found a vintage Levis denim jacket. They didn’t realize they had placed the winning bid until the jacket showed up at the door a week later. Liz offered to “bling up” this jacket before her friend’s photo shoot. She borrowed a sewing machine, spent most of a day watching YouTube videos learning how to sew, and delivered a jacket embroidered with a bunch of funky-looking patches. The friend loved it so much that she posted a photo on social media, mentioning that “maybe you could ask her to make one for you.” Within a half hour, Liz had her first order for a custom jacket from a stranger. This quick success made her think that maybe she could do it more than once. Because custom jackets were a niche product on social media, she got a lot of early attention in the form of organic press coverage once she built a website for her shop. Her first press feature came a few months after that first custom jacket order, and her shop has since been featured on sites like Elle, InStyle, and ENews. So what type of profits can be made selling custom vintage clothing? There are good months and bad months, but she usually ends up netting between $1,000 to $1,500 each month. Her startup costs were under $3,000, which covered purchasing sewing machines and setting up her website. The majority of her customers find her on Instagram or through press articles. She updates Odessa Rae once or twice each month with new items but does no paid marketing. This side hustle not only helped her feel more comfortable around her peers, it also helped build her confidence as an entrepreneur. Liz has truly taken retail therapy to a whole new level!
MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:
- Odessa Rae: Vintage threads are always in style—check out Liz's unique creations over on her website and upgrade your wardrobe
- Elle, InStyle, & ENews: A few of the online media outlets that covered Odessa Rae and drove more traffic Liz's way
- Topshop: The international retailer of clothing, shoes, make-up, and accessories that saw one of the features and reached out to Liz about doing a pop-up shop at their Soho New York store
- College Bartender Turns Online Shopping Into Accidental Side Hustle: In the prehistoric age before easy online shopping, a bartender discovers a way to supplement the tips she lost during a recession by reselling clothing to her friends
- Bedridden Marketing Director Pops Tags at Thrift Shop: A marketing director for a Connecticut health facility converts her passion for unique, vintage finds into a reselling side hustle
- Bright Idea Leads Chicago Woman to Million-Dollar Hustle: A Chicago-based plastic recycling sales rep overcomes her fears and doubts to transform her love for DIY lamp shades and $10 in supplies into a multi-million dollar business
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