From Thrift Store to Your Door: (Part of) My Etsy Business

I’ve been selling on Etsy since 2012, and have learned a few things over the past several years. Curious about my process? Read on!

Before I purchase ANYTHING, I go through reference photos I’ve saved in my Google Drive or bookmarked in Chrome. This way, I have access to them on my desktop, laptop, and phone, depending if I’m home or on the go. If I am looking for something specific or looking to modify something for a costume, having these references readily available helps refresh the image in my head so I know what to look for.

When I visit my hometown Chicago, I have 8 or 9 stores that I visit all in one go. It usually takes all day and involves multiple snack breaks! In Rhode Island (where I now live), I have 4 Savers within a 20 minutes drive. The prices at Savers aren’t as good as the Chicago stores, but they are closer to me (one of them is within walking distance) and I check them more frequently. I walk through the aisles of t-shirts and knits, looking for anything that reminds me of Kaylee or features motifs similar to the show. I also keep an eye out for anything especially reminiscent of River, Zoe, and Inara. Once I find and purchase all the clothes, the hard work begins.

20160529_134937The next step is to take pictures of EVERYTHING. In Chicago, my sister helps me out; in RI, I get assistance from one of my housemates. I do my best to take photos outside in natural light, because these look the best & showcase the colors of the clothing really well. If there’s an item of clothing that is too small for me, I take pictures of it on another model (usually my housemate or my sister). I try to get at least 3 or 4 different poses, and multiple pictures of each pose (because I blink a LOT). I also take close-up detail pictures of shirts so that customers can get an idea of the patterns on them.

Once I’ve gotten pictures of everything, I transfer them to my computer and do a preliminary cull. This is where I delete anything blurry, where I’m blinking, or the clothing doesn’t appear flattering. I pick 3-4 photos that I like the best of each item (plus the detail shot), and then transfer these into Photoshop, where I do a very basic edit to clean up colors, contrast, brightness, etc. Here, I also crop images so that they focus more on the shirts that I am trying to sell than on the background or anything else in the frame.

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After I am happy with the pictures, I rename everything to describe it (for example, Peacock shirt 1 for the first picture of the peacock shirt). In some cases (like the Zoe belt I am currently offering), I also  take a few measurements to accurately describe the products. After that, I start the tedious process of uploading these pieces to Etsy.

In Etsy, I have to specify a ton of information before I can save items as drafts; things like what ‘type’ of item it is, who is going to use it, how big it is to calculate shipping, and more.Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 2.50.25 PM I take the time to fill this out. My favorite part of the listing process is writing a description; I get to imagine how Kaylee came to own each of the shirts I’ve picked out, or on what she occasions she might wear them.


Part of adding listings to Etsy includes figuring out how to ship items & how much it will cost. Luckily, Etsy can often provide the shipping information for me when I fill in certain details.

Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 2.44.51 PM When items are ordered from Etsy, I get 2 emails. One from Paypal (since all my Etsy funds go there), and one from Etsy. The Paypal email goes into a folder labeled ‘receipts’ so that I can track how much I made & relate that to my taxes. The second email stays unread in my inbox until I am ready to ship; once it ships that email gets deleted.

I will almost always use Etsy to purchase shipping labels, since it keeps it all in one nice spot, and I get an email receipt. I can then print the label, and schedule a pick-up through USPS so I don’t have to find a time to get to the post office. And then items are off to their new homes! With almost 80 reviews and 4.5 stars on Etsy, hopefully I am doing something right.

Are there any questions you have about my process? Comment and let me know!