Eloise Holbrooke is a mom, a wife, an artist, and an entrepreneur. Her warm demeanor and passion for her creative pursuits is the first thing that strikes you when you start talking with her.
Eloise has been selling on her eBay store called Eloiseworld, for over a decade now. She is an abstract artist and playing with colors is close to her heart. “I paint conflict and resolve. Because that's been the story of my life, the story of my daughter's life, challenges, and the bright side. Getting through hard times to see the sunshine”, she explains.
She is 49, newly married, and lives with her husband and two daughters in Anthony, Florida. One of her daughters was diagnosed with Autism and her eBay business has given her time and flexibility to take care of her. “My second 21 year old with autism is amazing, and she's our hero. My other 21 year old is headed on to medical school to become a doctor. My husband is the backbone of our business and takes care of the big labor of building the boxes”, she says.
The toughest part of her work she says, is striking a balance between her artistic and entrepreneurial side. “It is difficult. I try to find time to turn the business end off and concentrate on creating new product lines. Because we are the creator of our own products, my family, me. So I do have two hats that I switch off and on all through the day”, she says.
Before starting her online business, Eloise had a brick and mortar art gallery. She was floored with the amount of business one of the artists was doing on eBay. “After about a week of studying eBay, I started to get my first listings up, and within a few months, I shut down the big gallery and the big bills, and the big overhead, and just concentrated on eBay. It's put one child through college and supports my autistic daughter’s horse education. I was at the right place at the right time, and I've never looked back. I owe my success and my career to eBay”, she adds.
“Never gave up.” This is how Eloise describes her decade-long journey of being a seller on eBay and managing life. We spoke to Eloise about her art, her business, her goals, and what has kept her going all these years.
Mansi: How’s your business on eBay?
Eloise: Business is up this year. eBay provides a lot of great tools that you can use. If you're a business person, there's nothing better than this. Despite being computer illiterate, I learned all of this. Anyone can do it. You just got to want it enough.
I am seeing my business growth on the eBay Seller Hub and right now. I’m about 100% up over this time last year and about 20% up as compared to the previous month. That’s big. Of course, our economy is starting to come back, but I feel eBay is poised to allow me to put my product in the right position.
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Mansi: How have you managed to maintain this uptrend in your business?
Eloise: I think for me, it's always been about size. I sell large pieces. Shoppers are very savvy now, and they can differentiate my work from the rest. The other thing that I would tell sellers is know your category. Know your product. Study it inside and out. Know your competitors. Shop your own product. Pretend you're a buyer going to eBay for the first time, and think of what you would look for and where. I'm constantly watching my product placement. eBay is the only online marketplace where the seller still has some control over their placement. That's why eBay will always be number one in my book. eBay makes sellers more important than anybody else does.
I love the aspect of customer service in this business. Earlier, I used to get upset if someone was complaining. Now, I say sorry promptly. I follow the philosophy that the customer is always right. If somebody had a problem and it was not their fault, I give them a refund and I don't even ask them to return the item. Or, I send them another piece. It's so easy to provide excellent customer service. You don't have to take it as personal.
Mansi: Are there any particular eBay tools that you use? Or any non-eBay ways to boost your business?
Eloise: I like them all. They're fantastic. I use promoted listings constantly. That's a great tool. I don't have to pay per click on them. I love that. I am not strong at social media, but I do have a business page set up, and there are customers that look me up on social channels.
Mansi: You sell big pieces. Tell us how you have taken care of the shipping.
Eloise: That was a real tough one to learn when I started. It was really interesting to see the differences between the carriers. I'm a FedEx girl. To the new sellers, I would like to say that's your biggest nut to crunch. Find your best shipper. Know your product. Try them all, and lock in. And then negotiate, negotiate, negotiate, negotiate.
Mansi: How has the journey been with children, painting, selling? Did you ever feel overwhelmed?
Eloise: I’ve been through good times and bad times, and I’ve watched my numbers go up and down. My girls give me time to be alone so that I can create. My whole family is involved in this one way or another. We pay attention to what’s going on, and we weather the storms.
Mansi: What has kept you going?
Eloise: There's no better way, in my opinion, to make a living other than this. It provides so much. I get to be home or at a location of my choice. I get to work at a time frame of my choice. You can easily work your life around a business like this.
With mobile phones, you can answer clients and take care of all the stuff from anywhere, anytime. I love how the phone goes cha-ching every time you make a sale. It's just the greatest thing when we're out and my husband's got the mobile app on his phone, and I have it on mine, so we get stereo cha-chings, and we all look and laugh.
Mansi: What are your near and long term goals?
Eloise: As my daughter is growing, and is independent now, I'm able to go back to being extremely creative. So my time for creativity is coming back, which is exciting, because so is the market. I'm really inspired to create a whole new bunch of originals. I have a lot of good stuff going on in my life right now that I want to share.
A normal day for Eloise starts at 8am and is primarily guided by the needs of her daughter with autism. She walks 50 feet to her workplace, which is a metal warehouse building that the family just bought. While her husband takes care of all custom made boxes, she goes through all the orders and hand-embellishes them.
From selling one painting a month for about $4000 during her pre-online days, she now sells anywhere between 50 and 100. Eloise dreams of doubling her business in two years and says, “Selling on eBay rocks because you can achieve your goals in your pajamas. It's true.”
“I sign the paintings on the front and on the back, and then I have to sign a certificate of authenticity. That’s three signatures per order. I sign my name so much that sometimes I'm sick of my own name. That's a good problem to have. I'm grateful for that”, she says.
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