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SHINE Young Entrepreneur Winner Ciara B.: From College Athlete to Small Business Owner

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Last Edited 02:51:20 PM

Ciara Brown made her first eBay sale in a single day. The very next day, she listed 40 more items. Within a year, she’d grown her eBay store, The Diamond Hanger, to 3,000 items. And, she did it all while earning a degree and competing as a Division I athlete. In the two years she’s been selling on eBay, Ciara has grown her business from her college bedroom to a 1,000-square-foot warehouse, and gone from a solo entrepreneur to a small business owner with two employees.


Ciara credits eBay with helping her find her passion, giving her the tools to grow a business, putting her in control of her own financial success, and changing the way she looks at life. And, she says she wants to help other people find the same success. “I want to motivate others and inspire those around me to push for their dreams to come true. I hope to one day be a leader and mentor for young eBay entrepreneurs, so receiving that phone call [that I was a SHINE finalist] meant the world to me.”



With her dedication to growing her business and her drive to help other young business owners, it’s no wonder Ciara was the winner in the Young Entrepreneur category at the 2017 SHINE Awards for Small Business. We talked to Ciara about her experience at eBay Open and her number one rule for success on eBay.


What inspired you to submit your story to the SHINE Awards?

I submitted my story because I want my story to be heard and, hopefully, to inspire a lot of people, including other young entrepreneurs.


How did you campaign for votes during the public voting phase?

I contacted every single person in my cell phone at least three times and asked each of my friends to ask at least five other people to vote. I spent two days walking the streets of downtown San Diego with my sister and an employee, asking random people to vote on the street. We walked around our warehouse community and asked people to vote. And, my family did a really good job of spreading the word at our family reunion. Everywhere I went, I asked people to vote.

Ciara Brown SHINE winner.jpg

What do you think made your application stand out and ultimately made you a finalist?

I think my application stood out because I showed the passion I had for my business by sharing my business growth. I explained why I felt my story could inspire other people and why I believe I should win.


As a finalist, you received a VIP experience at eBay Open. What was your favorite part about being a SHINE finalist at eBay Open?

It was an unforgettable experience with so many fun times. Everyone was extremely welcoming. It was a lot of fun to meet with other sellers that sold similar items as me. Other sellers would come to me with questions, and I would ask other sellers questions, so I learned a lot. Ultimately, it was an awesome feeling to have my voice heard and inspire other people.


Why would you recommend other sellers attend eBay Open?

All of the classes were extremely informative. Every person I came across could hardly wait for the next eBay Open to come around because it was so much fun. The energy of the people was outstanding and really inspiring. I’m excited to go next year!


What was your main takeaway from the event?

I was able to make so many business improvements when I got back from eBay Open. For example, we added store categories to our store in order to make it easier for buyers to shop our large inventory. This has helped our customers more easily navigate throughout our store.

Ciara Brown SHINE Winner eBayOpen2017.jpg

What are you going to do with the prize money?

I’m going to pay off some of our photo studio equipment and invest in new inventory.


What’s your single best tip for being successful on eBay?

Customer service is absolutely number one. Always do right by the customer even if it means you have to take a loss. Long term, it pays off.


What eBay tools do you make use of most, and what benefits have you seen from utilizing these tools?

I love that Seller Hub allows me to track my daily sales and keep my business on track for success. It allows me to compare last year to this year to make sure my business is performing well.


What motivates you to keep selling on eBay?

I’m motivated by the idea that I get to determine my own success and know that there are no limits.


Save the date: eBay Open 2018 will take place July 24-28. SHINE applications will open in Spring 2018.

Rising Star

One question I never heard/seen asked is "How do you make yourself standout  from others, that sell simular items?"



Rising Star

I'm glad for you. But I'm trying to figure this out because I too am a clothing seller. I noticed you're not a top seller? Am I missing that? And that you don't offer free shipping which is a requirement. Other than the fact that you have a lot more items for sale than I do, just curious what makes you stand out from the rest. 

I'm not trying to take anything away from you. I'm just the kind of person that always has a lot of questions, very inquisitive.


That said - congratulations! 


Free shipping is not a requirement for Top Seller, but 30 day returns are, and she offers 14 day returns.  She has a lot of high end designer clothes, it looks like she is a consignment seller.  And her photos are very nicely staged.  However, if you have to walk the streets to get complete strangers to vote for you to win, then I don't think much of this competition.   That's like stuffing a ballot box, in my opinion. 


She’s still new at eBay.  Give her some time to realize how it really works.  Check back in a couple years and let’s see if she’s still a registered member.  Hope see caught the newest newsletter saying she can’t have watermarks on her photos anymore coming soon.  And it’s funny that she mentions adding store categories to make it easier for buyers to navigate her store, when 65% of ebay shoppers are using phones and can’t access our stores unless they choose to view eBay is desktop mode, so they don’t even know we have stores and other items for sale.  Looks likes she’s sourcing her inventory from amazon liquidation’s.  If it doesn’t sell on amazon, sell it on eBay!