- Mona Mejia, 44, was a stay-at-home mom when she started reselling on Poshmark in 2015.
- She made $735,000 last year from sales on social media live streams and through brand partnerships.
- She’s confident others can have similar success, but it doesn’t happen overnight.
Before 2015, Mona Mejia took care of her three children full-time.
Now, the 44-year-old Houston mom made $735,000 last year selling new and used clothing, home goods and toys on social media, according to documents verified by Insider.
She says she has never invested a single dollar in her business out of her own pocket. She started with the clothes in her closet and later used her earnings to buy additional inventory to sell at a markup.
“When I talk about everything we’ve been through, I’m still shocked at where we came from,” Mejia told Insider.
Mejia is one of millions of Americans finding ways to make ends meet without relying on a traditional 9-to-5 desk job. U.S. workers filed over five million new business applications in 2021, the most since 2005. A 2021 Upwork study found that 59 million Americans — or 36% of the U.S. workforce — had done freelance work in the previous 12 months. Others, like Mejia, have found ways to start their own businesses. While these lifestyles are not without challenges, they have offered some Americans an opportunity to finally thrive financially.
“Everything was sold very quickly”
In 2015, Mejia’s family needed additional income to supplement her husband’s salary. It was a “really tough time,” she said. “You don’t know where you’re going to eat.”
When her sister introduced her to Poshmark, a reseller platform, she started selling a few items from her closet.
She recalls her first sale – a dress – which sold for $36 after 11 hours. As she started listing more items, she noticed that “everything was selling really fast” and real money was pouring in.
Two years later, Mejia’s husband had open-heart surgery and was unable to work – the responsibility fell on her to support the family and she took her efforts to another level. As Mejia branched out to other resale platforms, the $100-$200 she was making per week turned into $1,000, for a total of almost $50,000 in earnings in her first year.
But it wasn’t until about a year ago — when she started selling live streams across Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook — that her business really took off. For example, while she made $23,000 from Poshmark last year, she says the majority of her income now comes from social media.
Her husband’s health has since improved, but instead of returning to work, he is now helping his wife keep up with their thriving business. They now own a house together, which they have paid off in full, and have sent two children to college without student loans.
“The more you list, the more money you will make.”
After rummaging through her closet, Mejia took her earnings and went to flea markets and clearance departments to look for bargain products to buy and resell. These included clothing, shoes, home goods, children’s items, accessories, jewelry – “just about anything”. She has sold items for as little as $15-20 up to $1,300-1,400 for a Louis Vuitton or Chanel bag.
While she still frequents flea markets and retail stores, most of her purchases are now bulk orders, which she buys at a discount from a variety of vendors.
Mejia then lists most of their products at around 40% of their market price, or the price a customer would pay in a retail store, for example. She says big discounts on resale platforms are typical. She once paid $30 for a dress that sold for nearly $300 at Anthropologie.
Despite discounts, she says she’s been able to maintain a high level of profitability by only selling items she’s bought at discounted prices.
On a rare occasion, however, she recalls making quite a profit on a pair of “Flamingos and Frogs” pants she paid $1 for at a garage sale. “These are awful, but I’ll try them,” she thought. They were sold for $100.
Mejia doesn’t think she has any particular talent for what she wants to sell and that “the more you list, the more money you’ll make”.
“Everything sells,” she said, adding that the shift to e-commerce early in the pandemic has boosted sales — which are up 50% from pre-pandemic levels.
“I love it. It’s an addiction for me.”
Mejia says she spends eight to 10 hours doing most of the work in her shop, but in reality she “works all day” and is on duty “24/7.”
She recalls early on filling boxes in the corner of her dining room and kitchen in the family’s one-bedroom apartment before shipping them out to customers. Now they have a six bedroom house, two of which – an “inventory” and a “listing” room – are used to store future supplies.
She lists at least 100 items each day, but it’s the evenings — when customers typically shop — that are particularly busy. She says she stays up until 3am to make sure shows get out the door – and then wakes up at 7:30am to start the next day.
“There’s no stopping it, but it’s okay,” she said. “I love it. It’s an addiction for me.”
Mejia believes anyone can be successful as a reseller, but stresses that it takes hard work and dedication – it’s taken her seven years to get to where she is now. Many people give up, she says, but perseverance can pay off.
“A lot of people see where I am right now. And they’re like, ‘Oh, I want to do that now,'” she said. “Yes, it will happen eventually, but it won’t just happen overnight. So I would say don’t give up and just keep listing, keep sharing your closet, be consistent.”
While her thousands of social media followers are certainly helpful, she says, “You really don’t need to have a huge following to make money.”
Thanks to her sales success, Mejia says she’s signed deals with Torrid and Target that pay them to wear and promote their clothes on social media. Deals like this made her $735,000 last year.
She also wants to continue her business at full steam. Sales are up 30% over the past six months, and she plans to open her own “pop-up” retail store in Houston next January. She plans to hire three employees in December to help out.
“We love what we do,” she said, “and the only way to keep growing is through work.”