"It all started here in the UK selling Elizabeth Stephenson’s belongings. Nothing fancy, the usual things for an 86 year old. Ornaments, readers digest and things collected over the years. No fancy jewellery just good old bric-a-brac!
My Grandmother Died in December 2010. Although expected, it still sent a shock wave through the family. When she died all of her belongings were in her council owned bungalow. And, as she lived in Council housing the council wanted it back, and fast.
So, as a family we were trying to work out what on earth we would do with the Readers Digest goods and gifts along with all of the other treasures of my grandmother and, to be frank, junk to anyone else. Katy, my partner (now wife) turned to my mum and said “Liz, don’t worry, let me list it on eBay”. I had only been with Katy for around 6 months and I gave her daggers from across the room!
3 days later my late grandmother’s belongings were now all in my two bedroom flat. Both Katy and I were working full time so for the next few weeks our evening entertainment was writing down what we had, photographing, and then listing all of these items onto eBay.
In January 2011 that old junk fetched £1,028, half of which went to my mum and half to Katy and me. We still had plenty of things left so in February we did it all again and put it all on eBay. Another £2,500! Not bad for things destined for the skip!
It’s important to add that at the end of January I was made redundant. This was 2 blows in two months. So, I had some time on my hands. I bought the book ‘How to sell on eBay’ and quickly read it, learning some new tricks. I am not a book lover, or someone who enjoys reading, so this was rare!
Katy and I needed to cut costs. So instead of spending the couple of thousand we had from sales we moved in together and started selling anything we didn’t need. Again, let’s be clear, when I say our stuff I mean my stuff. Cushions and lamps came into the flat and Xboxes went out!
In April I got another job. 2 weeks later it was Katy’s turn and she was made redundant.
We were careful. We didn’t go out and spend. I was out of work for 4 months and Katy was now out of work. So we decided that we could cover our bills and clear some debts if Katy became self employed. Now was the time to visit the wholesalers. Big Spenders we were. £500 on new stock! Katy looked at me in disgust. I remember it well. We did not really have the money to spend it.
In July we hit £6k then Aug £7k. We were on a roll! All the time we were living on very little. All the money reinvested back into stock. Time to open Ebay international! We grew overnight, selling into Europe, USA and Australia. We went from £7k to £9k, then to £11k and £18k a month. A phone call followed that changed everything once more.
The call was from Amazon! “Can we onboard you? We can see your potential and want you to sell with us”. So I said “why not”, Katy said “No” and for once in my life I won! Sales rose again to nearly £26k, what a year! We had managed to turnover £95k from nothing.
Most people’s story would end here. Not ours!
We decided we wanted the world. In February 2012 we opened Amazon Germany, working with Royal Mail and with the help of eBay and Amazon sales took off. By May we had opened Amazon USA and then came France.
By the summer of 2012 we started working directly with Brand owners. At the end of 2012 we had hit sales of over half a million pounds.
Year in year out we became experts on these platforms. We opened up our sales in Spain, Italy, Canada, Japan, Mexico and then the rest of Europe. By mid 2013 I was able to leave work and focus on our suddenly expanding business. Looking back this was the best thing I ever did, but at the time this was a huge risk for us. We had turned over £750,000 in this financial year. This turned out to be a risk worth taking.
2013-2014 - £1,400,000 we had done it! We had achieved what not 1 person, including our parents, believed we could. We had turned over more than 1 million pounds in a year and we had not even scratched the surface; we had taken £10 and some old junk and turned it into a business turning over 1 million pounds. No loans, No investments, No overdrafts just £10 and some junk. There was going to be no stopping us now. Today we are close to turning over £10 million. Not bad from a tenner!"