In 2011, when I wasn’t working my $25,000-per-year insurance job or spending time with my family, you could find me shopping online.
I was 24 years old, and I loved browsing the internet for clothes that were both on-trend and affordable. Unfortunately, there weren’t too many options back then. That’s what gave me the idea to start a side hustle selling women’s clothing on eBay.
At first, it was just a fun hobby. Little did I know, 10 years later, my husband Chris and I would be running Pink Lily full-time. Last year, our online clothing business generated $141 million in gross sales. And today, our social media audience has grown to 3.6 million followers.
From an eBay side hustle to $141 million in sales:—
To start our eBay store, my husband Chris and I made an initial investment of about $300 to buy clothes and accessories from a wholesale website. Since I wasn’t familiar with pricing strategies, I priced items at what I would pay as a customer. We worked out of our living room, so we didn’t have much overhead to worry about except for shipping costs.
Profits varied during the first few years, but we typically made anywhere from $300 to $1,000 per month. We used that money to pay off student loans and invest back into the business. I’d fly to Los Angeles to meet with vendors and place product orders and eventually started attending trade shows to expand our line of selections.
Two years later, in 2013, I started a personal Facebook group to market my clothes. We had loyal customers who showed an increasing demand for our products, especially in our local community in Bowling Green, Kentucky. By the end of the year, we had saved around $20,000 from our profits, which we used to launch Pink Lily’s official website. That’s when the business began booming.
In May 2014, we surpassed $100,000 in monthly revenue. After three years of running Pink Lily as a side hustle, I quit my insurance job to work on the business full-time. Chris joined me a few months later to oversee the company’s finances and operations. We closed the year with more than $4 million in revenue.
In 2019, after achieving $70 million in total sales, we received a minority stake investment to support the business’s rapid growth. This helped us expand our product offerings and scale an amazing team. Currently, we sell more than 11,000 products on our site every day, have a brick-and-mortar store, and, with 250 full-time employees, are one of the biggest employers in Bowling Green.
While we still visit trade shows, we now have a core group of vendor partners with who we work to create custom designs. Co-founding Pink Lily alongside my husband has been the journey of a lifetime.