Conscious Club on eBay: Selling & sending vintage, all without a printer
Selling vintage and used clothing online is all the rage in Australia thanks to a growing community of eco-minded entrepreneurs who are helping build a circular economy where nothing goes to waste.
Courtney Brook, a South Australian teacher and side hustler, is one of them. After hours she runs a vintage clothing side hustle and pursues her art hobbies in the most sustainable way possible.
She sells her vintage finds on her eBay store and at weekend markets in her home city of Adelaide.
I caught up with Courtney during our Printer-Free trial—a new seamless shipping solution that Sendle has launched in partnership with eBay for Aussie sellers—to talk about how she started her side hustle and what it’s like to be able to send without dealing with a printer.
Sendle’s small biz quiz
Name, title, and location
Courtney Brook, eBay side hustler | Adelaide, Australia
How would you describe your side hustle in a nutshell?
I sell the vintage bits and bobs that no longer fit in my wardrobe, and use the funds to fuel my love of art and illustration.
I wanted to make my hobbies sustainable, but also to share the good stuff with others and promote second-hand shopping as an environmentally conscious practise.
And, what about in just three words?
Creative, sustainable, and fun.
How did you get your side hustle off the ground?
About 16 months ago (mid-2020), I realised that I had collected an enormous amount of vintage clothes from op shops and they were bursting out of my wardrobe.
A lot of the pieces didn’t quite fit me but I was holding on to them because they were just so cool.
I think it was a combination of Marie Kondo’s Magical Art of Tidying Up and the TV show Girl Boss that did it!
Sitting on my floor in a pile, I was half thanking them for the good times but also thinking about how much I would still be willing to pay for them. The vintage brands are just so well made and they hold up against any of today’s clothes after decades of wear.
I started selling them through social media for a while, but late last year I switched to use eBay and it really worked for me, so my little eBay side hustle was born.
Side hustlers are often juggling so many things on top of a day job. How do you fit it in?
I am a full-time high school English teacher.
You’d think I would be busy enough with that. But in the last few years, I have rekindled my lifetime love of vintage fashion, along with my artwork, and realised how important having a creative outlet is for my well-being.
I have a collection of clothes to keep listing, so when I’m not fossicking for more, I’m working on my illustrations including custom portraits for individual clients and illustrating branding elements in collaboration with my husband at Yada Graphic Design.
I love that I get to use my eBay funds to pay for prints, supplies, and tech to keep developing my illustration skills and building my portfolio.
We have a mortgage to pay for so my hobbies don’t eat into it because they pay for each other. I like to think of it as my own little circular economy.
How did you get hooked on vintage clothing?
I spend a lot of time on the weekends hunting in local op shops and often find absolute gold but not all the pieces fit me.
I always enjoy sharing what I find and whenever my outfits receive compliments, I love being able to say ‘I found it in an op-shop!’ with a silly grin on my face.
I wanted to promote the sustainable practice of second-hand purchasing and show off the insanely cool pieces I find hidden in the racks.
Ever since I became aware of the problems with the fast fashion industry, I have been committed to spreading awareness and holding fast to the ‘second-hand first’ rule where I can.
What sets you apart from other vintage sellers?
It has become pretty popular to resell vintage and preloved fashion, but I try to find the brands that used to be made in Australia like your classics—Katies, Country Road, and Sportsgirl—and I keep the price point super affordable.
A few sales here and there are what helps me to afford to print my art illustrations locally, and use more sustainable practices.
My illustrations are based on empowering women to respect themselves, set boundaries, and be honest, so I like to think I am perpetuating this in the way I run my side hustles too.
How do you get your name out there and attract new customers?
I use Instagram for my illustration business (@courtney.illustrates) and also sell the prints at weekend markets in Adelaide. I take along my vintage clothing to spark interest and ultimately make a sale whether it be via my market stall or eBay store.
For eBay, I have found that good customer service, personal messaging, and pretty, environmentally friendly packaging have led to great buyer feedback and return customers to Conscious Club Vintage.
I am still learning to market my work and conquer imposter syndrome!
What gets you more sales—selling online or at physical markets?
They really complement each other.
I like the market because it’s encouraging to talk to people about my art and vintage clothes and have the experience of sharing them. It's something I want to do more of for sure.
Aside from a friendly ‘thank you’ message, selling online misses the personal touch, but I love the ‘set-and-forget’ mentality I can have, giving me more time to do what I love.
What are the advantages of selling on eBay?
My teaching day job on a quiet week takes up at least 45 hours, and I need time after school to work on my custom illustrations and my portfolio, so eBay feels almost like a passive income.
Listing an item is accessible and quick and I can respond to watching buyers with offers which helps sell items quickly.
Plus, there is no mucking around trying to sort out payments and delivery. I can trust the process to be clear-cut.
Time efficiency is important to me and eBay ticks that box.
You took part in the Sendle and eBay Printer Free trial in South Australia. How did you find it?
A breeze! It was a no-brainer when I saw the trial email pop up.
Would I like to skip the printing/cutting/sticking on a label step? Of course! It means less waste in so many ways including no paper, ink, sticky tape and also saves time.
My husband can attest to my excitement as I showed off how I could just write the tracking number and addresses on the package.
I’m not sure that he quite shared my level of excitement but he knows how much sustainability means to me and this was a great trial to participate in.
So would you ever consider getting rid of your printer?
Printing labels was the only thing I used my printer for, so yes and yes!
On my black compostable satchels, I use a white paint pen. So simple.
Sustainability obviously means a lot to you. How does it play out in your side hustle?
I believe we should all be working toward a circular economy, so sustainability is a really high priority for me.
I use compostable satchels to send my vintage pieces to customers or I re-use satchels from items I have received as a buyer.
Having parcels delivered with Sendle carbon neutrally means I don’t have the guilt about a shirt travelling by air from Adelaide to Brisbane.
It’s not all about my conscience though. Small efforts have a big impact when we all do our bit to preserve the future of our planet.
I would love to hear that we had turned this climate crisis around in my lifetime because enough people made enough small changes to the way they do business.
What advice do you have for someone who is considering starting a side hustle? Anything you would do differently?
You will never feel ready to start anything, so you just need to start it anyway.
It has taken a long time for me to work up the guts to promote my vintage clothes, and my artwork especially, but when you’re open to making mistakes, receiving feedback and learning, good things happen.
I have a circle of absolutely gorgeous friends and mentors, and this has been instrumental in developing my confidence too. Make sure you have a team of honest and life-giving people around you.
I wish I hadn’t deleted my social media last year (2020). I let comparison get to me and deleted my accounts, which means I deleted about 10 years of social networking connections!
Connections are important because other people are doing cool stuff and I now realise the power in supporting people’s side hustles, even if it is just by being a follower online.
How did you discover Sendle?
My husband has a Graphic Design studio, Yada, and they used Sendle to deliver business cards and other work to clients because Sendle collects them from their office.
Knowing I could have packages picked up from my front door made Sendle an easy choice.
Photos courtesy: Conscious Club Vintage