This week, Cat’s Closet is one year old! I literally just fell into small business ownership and am now moving and shaking in ways I’ve always wanted to. In this post, I’m excited to share a bit about Cat’s Closet, my progression over this past year, and my vision for the future!
How Cat's Closet Started
Last year, in an effort to clean out my closet and make a little money, I decided I wanted to post some clothing items on eBay. (I had done this once before – mainly with accessories—before I studied abroad years ago.) I knew I needed to take photos wearing my clothes because I always am more interested in clothing when I can see it on another curvy woman. After I took pictures, I decided to throw them in a Facebook album to see if anyone I knew wanted them before I went to the trouble of posting on eBay. I made the album public and shared widely. A few days later, I had made $300 and sold most of my items.
The extra cash was nice but, more importantly, it truly brought me joy to share great clothing items with other plus-size women in my life. And, even through my first interactions with women in my circle, I could tell that they were gaining more than clothes from me – I was also able to share some body positive inspiration with them. So, I knew I was on to something! Now, Cat’s Closet has grown into a whole operation. I regularly thrift and shop to find quality clothing, style it in outfits, take pictures, post it for y’all to purchase, and ship to folks all over the country.
Developments & Resources Along the Way!
I have literally learned everything as I go. Those of you who have followed me from the start have seen growth in many parts of Cat’s Closet this past year. Although I won’t share all the intricacies of my business, I have lots of resources to recommend and shoutouts to share!
Facebook: Cat’s Closet started on Facebook as a personal album and then quickly became a fan page. For the first several months, all orders happened through Facebook and Facebook messenger - and PayPal. (Although the website makes my life soooo much easier, I do miss the convos I had with all of y’all over FB messenger. Thanks to those of you who still drop me a line via FB from time to time!)
Big Cartel: I use Big Cartel as the platform for my shop. There is a fee involved with this site but it’s simple for me to operate – which is important to me. It’s also pretty user friendly – in my opinion. I chose Big Cartel because I had seen other folks use it (including my sister). I am pretty satisfied with this site but, full disclosure, now that my blog is hosted by Squarespace – which I LOVE – I may consider switching my shop over to their e-commerce capabilities. (Shoutout to my mom for helping me set my Big Cartel site up. It is nice to have a computer programmer mom in your back pocket sometimes!)
USPS Flat Rate Packages: It took me a minute to discover these! Flat rate packages make my life so much easier! As those of you who order from me know, I don’t print out shipping and just get packages picked up. I hand write all addresses and go to the post office for every package! I might change this at some point but I actually enjoy visiting the PO most times – especially the one closest to my house. (Shoutout to the New Orleans Uptown Post Office on Louisiana Ave!)
Closet Features: Closet features have added a splash of excitement into my site! Essentially, women consign their clothes with me. (Meaning, I sell them to y’all and we both get a portion of the profits.) I’ve been able to do closet features for local folks and others who have mailed me their clothes. As you may have seen on my site, sometimes the person featured wears the clothes and sometimes I do – whatever they’re most comfortable with! (Shoutouts to Ashley, Pamela, Amanda, and Barhynn for allowing me to feature their fab items this past year!) If you are interested in doing a closet feature, just contact me and I’ll give you details so we can see if it’s right for you!)
Photography Developments: A huge development for me was switching from selfies to regular photos! It offers a better look at my items and better quality photos but also makes posting more time consuming because I need to enlist someone else to help (or, struggle with a tripod). Shoutouts to Amanda, Emily Horne Photography, Toni, and my boyfriend for taking pics for me on the regular. (Biggest shoutout goes to my boyfriend who does not usually get compensated with cash, clothing, or lunch like the others ;)!) Oh! And, as you saw in my Holiday Photo Shoot – incorporating others into my photos was so much fun! (Shoutouts to Stephanie, Amanda, Ari, Emily, Ready to Stare, and Jou Jou My Love for their involvement with that greatness!)
I am actively working to expand my brand. The fact that you’re reading this on my blog is an indication of this! I see Cat’s Closet as just one branch of my Cat Inspired ventures. (For a peak of everything I’m currently working on, check out this page of my blog!)
I could go on and on about my vision, goals, dreams, and plans. The brief overview of my business-related goals includes growing as a business woman, dramatically boosting my online presence, launching life coaching, sharing Cultural Care with more families, and continuing to grow and develop Cat’s Closet. Longer term goals include organizing and facilitating Women’s Leadership Retreats, writing a book, and opening a brick and mortar plus-size thrift store.
In term of Cat’s Closet, I’ll be a bit more specific! Here are a few ways I’m looking to grow in the upcoming year:
- I plan to do several in-person shopping events this year. (St. Paul & Chicago are on my list first!)
- I want to continue to grow my social media presence and share great stuff with y’all. I’m looking to hit 5K+ this year on Instagram, become more popular on Pinterest, and continue to grow on Facebook but under my overarching brand Cat Inspired (name change hopefully coming soon)!
- I’d love to find opportunities to do larger posts in an effort to move items more quickly in my shop – searching for the time to make that happen!
- Plus, let’s be real, I’d love to make more money and become more savvy in my business tactics. (Although I dedicate a LOT of time to Cat’s Closet, it’s not yet close to a place where it could be my main source of income.)
Interested in Doing Something Similar?
I’ve had at least 20 women contact me over the past year asking for advice or info about how they can start their own business like mine. First of all, I want to acknowledge that although I am quite flattered when people reach out to me, I don’t feel comfortable sharing every detail about my business. In fact, this post is probably the most details you’ll get from me!
Perhaps at a later time I will make myself available to consult for advice on these types of business for a fee, but I don’t think it’s fair to me or others if I just hand you all of my business strategies so you can recreate what I have developed.
Here are my words of advice:
- If you only have your own items to sell, I would strongly recommend doing a personal Instagram or Facebook album. (Or, host a clothing swap and trade clothes with friends!) You’ll run out of items very quickly. I have a whole operation happening over here. I thrift at least once a week, take pictures regularly, and dedicate a lot of time to social media and promotion. It's likley not worth all of that if you have 50 items or less and don't plan to actively seek more. (You can always consider collaborating with me and doing a Closet Feature. Contact me for details!)
- Imitation is NOT the sincerest form of flattery. If you like what you see and want to do something similar, I totally support you in your efforts. I believe in a world where we can all succeed and make it in our respective passions and hustles! But, please don’t replicate every detail of my business. I cannot support that as I don't think it is fair to me or you! Use your passion, creativity, and personal touch to make something of your own!
- As general business advice, I’d like to share a quote from Marie Forleo (who is, btw, just awesome). She says: “Never start a business to just ‘make money’. Start a business to make a difference." I live by this and bring it to all of my entrepreneurial endeavors. I encourage you to do the same!
Wow, what a year it’s been!
Honesty, in early January 2014 I had no idea that I would be writing about this today. I am really proud of myself and grateful for all of the support around me! Which reminds me - additional shoutouts to all the folks in my life who let me gush about my small business excitements! And, the biggest shoutouts to all of my AMAZING CUSTOMERS!! Y’all are truly the best!! It brings me so much joy to be able to engage with you!!
DEALS So You Can Celebrate With Me!
Oh, and how could I forget!? I have some fun promotions going on this week to celebrate Cat’s Closet’s birthday! They include:
- Inspirational Prints now for sale! (Just $1 each!)
- Lost of Markdowns!
- Spend $30, save $10 promotion! (Just use code: "SPEND30SAVE10"!)
- Surprise promotion on January 28th - the day I shared that first FB album! =)
And, I'd LOVE to Hear From You!
So, now you know about where I've been and my plans for the future, I 'd love your feedback! What do you hope to see from me through Cat's Closet and Cat Inspired in the year to come!?
Thanks so much to all of you for your support!