Uncle Sam Is on My Shit List

Ladies, I got the ol' taxes done last night and it's not pretty.

I owe more than my wedding dress budget.

I was sort of expecting this because I was 1099'd for my freelance editing.

I work with an amazing mama, and she does everything in her power to get me the most money she can. Last year I got a lot more than I had expected and was over the moon. This year, not so much.

Aside from that, she spent some time with me reviewing the shop. How much I spend versus how much I make.

It comes down to this. The money I spend (purchasing the actual items, gas, promotions, shipping and supplies, etc.) is about equal to the amount I made. Wait, no, that's not entirely true.

I made $300.

Now, $300 for the amount of work I have put in for a whole year ...whole Saturdays spent taking photos, washing clothes, measuring, writing descriptions...That is just not OK.

So, do I close up shop? Do I charge more (I really don't want to do this)?

On the bright side, we realized that I made more in two weekends of pop-up sales (so, two sales), than the entire year of etsy. But that sort of fizzled, and I have no space to continue doing that...

My heart is heavy this morning because I know I do this because I love it - nothing makes me happier - and it shouldn't be about the money, but it is a lot of fucking work, friends.

Any pearls of wisdom for me? I could use them.




  1. what!? no! there has GOT to be a way for you to keep going. let's set up a skype date and we'll chat about it, ok? we want to help as much as possible. :)

  2. I'm not sure I have any pearls of wisdom since I was in the same boat last year. I ended up oweing 4K to state & federal. Which means this year any money I do get goes straight to pay that off. Kinda sucks but don't give up on your dream.

    If you're making more money doing pop ups continue to do that. Try selling on instagram too. It's been working for me way better than Etsy & most people will take vintag clothing even with a few spots on it. Hope this helps!

    If you need help with instagram selling email me :)

  3. I was in this boat too. At least with figuring out how much I was spending and my time if it was worth what I was getting back. I think that unless it's your fulltime gig or you work from home, it's really hard to do. I think you just need to figure out how important it is to you. I loved having a vintage shop, going thrifting and the rush of a sale. But at the end of the day, it was too much for what I was getting out of it. My family and having more free time was more important to me. But that's just me, I think if you can find a way to make it work that makes you truly happy, keep going. But if not, that's ok too. xoxo You know I support you either way mama!

  4. I agree with Beth - maybe it's just best to keep doing your pop-up thing, which is proving to be profitable. Knowing what you make/spend can be depressing, but it's also really empowering because you have all the facts and you can see the way forward.

    As I've watched the vintage-derived portion of my income go down and down and down despite the work being the same (if not more), I basically figured out how much I make from my shop on average, per month, and how many hours that amount of money is worth. Now I just try to really limit the amount of time I spend on it to ensure a somewhat reasonable hourly rate for my work.

    I don't think there's anything wrong with throwing out the part that doesn't work and sticking with what does. After all, you are fortunate enough to have other income, a stable home life, etc. etc. and deciding to cut your losses on one part of your business isn't a failure, it's just taking a different path.

    I went through a pretty big freakout about all of this maybe a year ago, when I realized I was starting to have more time on my hands than money. Making some adjustments in my own attitude, and how I valued my time, was really important and now I feel consistently better about the whole lot of it.

    Good luck! I know you will figure out the best thing!

  5. This is such a bummer, Amanda. I'm so sorry to read it. I hope that you figure out a way to make the shop more financially feasible. You don't want to work as hard as you do for nothing. I send tons of love and support your way. If I knew anything about owning I business, I'd share some pearls, but I've got nothing!

  6. UGG the Taxman!!! Gosh that sucks!!! Sadly I have no pearls of wisdom - I'd hate to see you close everything up, but I know you have to do what is best for you and Cayla too. Man. I'll brainstorm over the weekend and if i have any brilliant ideas I will let you know when I see you next week. Hugs pretty lady - it will be ok!

  7. Eek! Uncle Sam would be on my shit list as well. Although I haven't done my taxes yet, and very well may be in the same boat.

    I don't really have any useful advice to give, as I've only had my Etsy shop for 1.5 years, but I'll give you some potentially useless advice anyway. I treat my Etsy shop as a hobby, that's it. I call it my Shoe Fund. I spend maybe 20 hours a week on it, max. I do this mainly for the reasons you listed in your post - who wants to spend 40 hours or more a week on something they love but it barely pays for itself? Treating it as a hobby helps keep me sane, and I think it lowers the pressure a bit - if it does well, good; if it doesn't, that's okay too.

    Keep us updated on whatever you decide to do!

  8. I'm so sorry to hear this, Amanda. It's never a nice thing to see that something we are passionate about is just not being profitable. Now, I'm sure a large part of this is due to how ridiculously flooded the market is, particularly when it comes to Etsy. You said that the pop up shops were your most profitable times, so focus your time and energy in that direction. Network with other local vendors (ideally those selling new, jewelry, not vintage) and coordinate a few weekends in the coming months where you can put together pop up sales. find out if there are any stores closing, who maybe have a little time left on their lease who will let you use the store front for cheap or even free. The benefit of doing in person sales is that it will force you to keep your stock lower, and so you'll only be bringing home the absolute best from your shopping trips; you'll meet your customers, and find out what they are looking for, so you stock items that are more likely to sell. Invest in making your actual tactile "shop" attractive: once you lure people in with the goods, they'll stick around and give everything a good solid browse once they've chatted with your sweet self! As was mentioned, do instagram sales, and let people at the pop up sales know: if they can't quite make a decision fast enough and come to regret it, they can still track that gem down through IG!
    If this business makes you happy, and you have financial stability, then there's no need to throw in the towel; you just need to regroup and refocus your efforts to minimize your expenses and maximize the effectiveness of your sales platform.
    And as for unconventional stock suppliers, try and get in touch with any local theatres! The plce I work at gets a lot of large donations from estate sales, elderly patrons who have passed away etc that we can't use. Typically these items are picked through for anything useful, and the rest (often REALLY nice vintage) is donated. And well, why shouldn't they donate to you? If you offer to pick the items up yourself, I'm sure they'd be more than happy to pass anything destined for the thrift store straight to you. Just make buddies so they keep you in mind when the time comes!


  9. I'm sorry, sweet. That's a SUPER discouraging and despairing place to be. I don't have the answers...but I wish you all the best <3

    <3 Cambria

  10. Taxes can be such a bummer. Right now I work for a small business as a shop manager and I know how incredibly hard small business can be. Sadly, the owner of our business is in the same boat- but WORSE. She feeds into the business all the time. I absolutely love fashion, (I did not go to school for fashion, but it is what I am doing while I look for a job in my field) but its sometimes hard to work there knowing that she is pouring her own money into it. The advice that our accountant gave us is that we need to be charging more for our merchandise. We can only cut costs so much, and the bottom line was that we weren't marking up enough. Uggg we hate marking up too much tho, so we have concluded that we need to find better deals for our vintage and better wholesale prices for our new stuff. Again, I know how much work this must be for you, but maybe you should give it another go and maybe increase the prices just a tad or find a way to get a better deal. You love what you do, so don't give up! <3 <3


  11. Ugh! So sorry you owe this year! It's really disappointed that the thing you love is not profitable. Brian and I have always wanted to have a vintage store and 5 or so years ago even did the biz plan and all that. I'm really glad we didn't go through with it because the economy turned to shit and who knows where we'd be now. BUT I still have a dream to have a business with him of some sort. The online market seems so hard, a lot of work and it really pays off for some but just becomes a second job for most. I guess keep it up if you really want to but don't put too much pressure on yourself to dedicate your weekends to it. Also that would be awesome if you could re-ignite the pop-ups again because that is probably WAY more fun and you actually get to see people's excitement to buy your stuff! Again, try not to stress too much- at least it's not your primary income, and things will start to fall into place for you :) Hugs!

  12. Agh, so sorry Amanda! I have no love for the taxman - I paid in so much on taxes from my previous job I worked for years that technically I should have gotten loads back but b/c my hubby's last job was lazy and his boss refused to get taxes taken out, we always owed a heap and are just now close to paying that off. I wish I had something wise to tell you - I don't do so much thrifting for my Etsy anymore. The driving around and effort put into that are a lot..and more than I have time for. I made friends with some vendors at a local antique mall (just by going in frequently and getting acquainted with them). Now I visit there once a month..and since they typically buy much more than they have room for at their booths, they either give me stock for cheap or completely free depending on whether they intend to put it up or not. This has made life much easier for me - though truth be told, I only run my Etsy as a part time thing. Don't' get too discouraged though - you are doing what you love. I'm sure you'll need to regroup a bit and figure out where it's important to spend time, money, and energy on and where you can cut back. It may be a challenge at first, but it's completely doable. Best wishes darling gal! xoxo

  13. So sorry to hear this!
    I totally understand how frustrating it can be, my husband used to be a buyer for a chain of 9 surf/skate shops and I sold my vintage inspired handmade clothing at an independently owned store that carries both new and vintage, they both have the exact same problem though...women's clothing does not pay the bills by itself. In the stores my husband worked for they carry all the big brands, Roxy, O'neill, Nixon,...but most of their sales (I would even say more than 60%) goes to men's screen print tees, because there is such a HUGE disposable market of cheap but cute items for women, and EVERYONE is suddenly a vintage Etsy shop owner which has flooded the market. The shop I sold at has a huge selection of beautiful vintage...but without stocking men's tees they would not be able to survive, so they have a section of larger brands such as Brixton, Captain Fin Co.,etc... just for men. I hope you can figure things out and keep doing what you love!!!xo