Interview with Jessica Larrew – The Mom Who Sold $275,000 of Stuff in One Year
I love meeting people that have been extremely successful in building a work from home business, and Jessica, two things that immediately caught my attention about you; you are working from home, and you are earning an outstanding amount of money doing so.
Many people are either afraid to work from home, or would love to work from home, but do not know what to do. I believe that many people will benefit immensely from hearing your story.
At what point in your life did you choose to begin working from home, and why?
I have always had an entrepreneurial mindset, but just never really knew what to do with it. I tried things like MLM businesses and even real estate. But, I knew that ultimately I wanted to be a business owner working for myself.
Soon after getting married I started dabbling with selling items on eBay for fun money.
When I was 23 I was laid off from my job and decided that was my time to make owning a business a reality instead of just a dream. The biggest reason was that we were ready to start our family, but I wanted to be able to be home when we had kids, so that was the biggest motivation behind making this business happen.
From what I can see on your blog: jessicalarrew.com, you and your husband have created a business selling products on Amazon, correct?
Yes. When I first started the business it was solely on eBay. After about 9 months, I had replaced my previous income, but there was not much potential for growth. At this point we were expecting our first baby and there were only so many hours a day available to work on listing and shipping items.
It was then that I really started looking into how the Amazon business model worked. They have a program called Fulfilled By Amazon (FBA) where they store and ship all of our inventory. This was a game changer for us. Now, we were not limited to the amount of products I could ship out.
After a year of working Amazon on my own, I replaced my husband’s income. At that point we decided to turn this into a family business and he quit his management job and came home and we continued to grow the business even more.
What I find extremely interesting are the types of products you sell on Amazon. Please tell us about why you chose Amazon and about the different products you sell.
The biggest reason we chose Amazon was because of the FBA program I mentioned before. The other reason is that there is a HUGE following of people who go to Amazon with every shopping need that they have. Unlike starting a webstore and trying to drive traffic to it, we can use the Amazon website and benefit from the traffic they are already receiving.
We sell a huge variety of items. I would say that our niche is health and beauty products. About 50% of our sales come from that category. We look for items that are on clearance and then sell them at retail price (and sometimes more).
So, we sell things like shampoo & conditioner, lotion, toothpaste and floss. It sounds boring I'm sure, but it is like a big treasure hunt when we are looking for items that will be profitable to sell.
Do you physically purchase products and then ship them to customers or do you use a drop shipper?
We personally shop for all of the items that we sell.
Where do you typically purchase your products from?
We are going to regular retail stores looking for clearance items, as well as discount stores that carry discontinued products. We even shop online stores. Basically anywhere we can get a deal.
How do you know which products will give you the best ROI?
Really, it comes a lot from experience. In the beginning we would check everything that was marked down. Now, we have a good idea of brands that have big followings.
We have apps on our phone that we can scan the UPC code and then see what the selling price is on Amazon. This has made a big difference in the learning curve for new sellers. When I first started, I would make a list and then go home and research the products.
How much does it cost to sell on Amazon?
It doesn't cost anything upfront to sell on Amazon. You can create an account for free, and even list your products for sale. You get charged a commission when the item sells. If you use the fulfillment program, then there would be shipping fees to get your products to the fulfillment center, which are upfront costs.
Then you have the cost of your products you want to sell (or you can sell things you already own). It's great because it has a really low cost of entry. There are things you can spend money on that make business easier, but to just try it out, you can get away with not spending much.
Did you use cash or credit to buy your very first products?
I actually used my last paycheck to purchase my initial inventory for eBay. When I started Amazon I took $500 from savings and used it to purchase inventory just for that venue.
Do you ship your products anywhere in the world, or only within the US?
Currently, I am only shipping to US customers. But, there is the option to ship internationally.
How many hours per day do you spend working on your business?
I spend a few hours almost every day on the business in some form. Whether it is shopping, shipping, pricing or researching. I try to keep a schedule and find that I average about 20 hours per week. My husband spends about the same amount of time per week.
What is the most difficult part of operating a business like this?
The most difficult part would be not becoming obsessed with it. Especially in the beginning, you see so much potential that it consumes your thoughts. I have to purposefully take days off from working and just enjoy life.
On the other hand, and I think this is true with most businesses, is that you have to stick with it. Just because it is a work from home business doesn't mean that you can slack off. If we didn't stick to our schedule, then we would see that in our sales.
So, what I am trying to say is it is hardest to find / keep balance.
What do you enjoy most about this business?
The greatest thing for me is that we are truly building a family business, with unlimited potential. My son, who is almost 3 years old has grown up with this. He loves to help us! It is so awesome to be able to be home with him and see all the things he is accomplishing at such a young age. If we had to be working “regular jobs” we would be missing all of that.
The other day you posted the following on your blog: Spending $2500 to make $8,000+ In One Afternoon! What has been your best deal since you began doing this type of work?
Every day is so different, you just never know what you are going to find. Most days we spend about $500 and will see about that much in profit from it. But, there are those times where we just strike a gold mine. We just purchased 3,000 units of a seasoning for $.75/each that sells for $8/each. The investment on that one was $2250 and the potential sales amount is $27,000. That is definitely the biggest single item return we have seen so far.
Jessica, can you share how much profit you made in 2012? Was that your best year so far?
In 2012 our gross sales were $275,000. Our profit from that is about 1/3, just over $90,000. This was our first full year where my husband and I were both running the business together. So, I anticipate that we could grow that even further :) So far though, that was our biggest year.
On your blog you share a lot of great information about how you operate your business so that others may do the same. I think it is wonderful that you are so open about how selling on Amazon works and how people can use it to make a very sweet income. You also offer some great resources that people can use. Please tell us about them.
Yes, I started my blog just to share what it was like from the perspective of an Amazon seller. I realized quickly that people wanted to know more than just the stories, they wanted to know the How To's. So, this year I have really been working more on trying to help others to build their own Amazon business. I offer personal one on one coaching sessions via Skype. These are great for people who just want to ask a real person all of their questions before diving into Amazon, or they are already selling but need some extra guidance.
I also offer group coaching in a Facebook group. This is where sellers can come to get support from myself and a couple of other full time sellers.
Just last month I wrote a book about buying liquidation items as a major inventory source, it is called “Liquidation Gold”.
Lastly, I have a short free guide that explains exactly why selling on Amazon works as well, if you sign up for my website newsletter.
From Sicorra: Jessica, thank you very much for sharing all this excellent information about your work from home business. You and your husband are clearly doing a wonderful job, and I know this will show others that it is definitely possible to work from home and earn a full-time income, and then some.
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