One night at 2016 Rachel Petersen was up at 3 a.m., trying to rock her six-month-old daughter to sleep. She was exhausted. In the morning, she began another 12-hour shift as a nurse at a hospital in Chattanooga, Tennessee. But more than fatigue, she felt overwhelmed by worry and stress. She had worked part-time at the hospital for seven years without a raise. With a teaching job at a local university, she managed to whip up $ 35,000 a year; her husband made a similar amount. During this time, they had an older child, a toddler, who was starting to show signs of autism. As she sat in the rocking chair in the dark nursery, she scrolled through Instagram on her phone, where her eyes fell on the hashtag #resellerrevolution.
She’s seen post after post of women bragging about returning clothes from thrift stores for profit. Women struck her as independent and master of their lives. Many of them were using a platform called Poshmark and tagging their posts #girlboss and #poshboss. “I couldn’t wait to learn more,” she says. She fell down the rabbit hole until two hours later when she left to start her shift at the hospital. That day, she took advantage of every break to check out more messages. She had credit cards to pay and a glimmer of thought that her three huge bins of ill-fitting clothes might help her.
After spending a few months learning about designer brands and taking note of the trends and prices on the site, she tried to list her own second-hand items. Then she started buying more clothes to sell in nearby thrift stores. She was natural. A year later, she quit both of her jobs and moved to All-In on Poshmark. In 2018, she generated $ 80,000 in income.
Petersen had stumbled upon a growing trend. Several companies are now helping people sell their old clothes online, but Poshmark, a San Francisco-based startup, is the largest of the group. It has 60 million registered users, mostly women, living in almost all US zip codes. Some women claim to earn dozens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars a year through.
When entrepreneur Manish Chandra launched Poshmark in 2011, he envisioned the app as a marriage of Facebook and eBay – a shopping-focused social network. The app sellers list their items in a “closet” or digital storefront, and the ads share the look and feel of posts on Instagram and Pinterest. The echo is intentional. Women on the app “look at each other as friends rather than clients”, according to a first Press release, which leads them to buy more from each other than they would from a stranger.
The application has grown rapidly. In May 2018, Poshmark said it had paid a total of over $ 1 billion to its community of sellers; 16 months later, the number had doubled. The company would have been estimated at $ 1.25 billion.
The secret to Poshmark’s growth is that it doesn’t hold inventory. Other retail sites, such as ThredUp, Vestiaire Collective, and The RealReal, buy used clothing from consumers, then authenticate and resell it. On Poshmark, users do all of the work themselves, but in return, sellers can make more money on each item they sell. “We have built a highly distributed logistics system, in which millions of sellers provide service, merchandise and inventory,” Chandra told me in an interview in early 2020. Poshmark keeps 20% of the price of sale for anything over $ 15 and $ 2.95 for anything below $ 15. Buyer covers flat rate shipping charges of $ 7.11 on each order.
A primary focus, according to Tracy Sun, co-founder of Poshmark and senior vice president of new markets, has always been “to empower a whole new generation of salespeople to start their businesses and thrive.” In Poshmark TV ads, the women say they paid for a family vacation, a car, and a wedding using the app, and Poshmark offered a “Entrepreneurship fund” for women to buy stocks.