The Small Business Owner Who Made Her Dreams a Reality
Karina Bogle knew she wanted to follow in her father’s entrepreneurial footsteps — and found a way to do it with eBay.
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Yuuki Shishido has always been passionate about supporting his local community. For years, he dreamed of owning and operating a Japanese anime store, but living in a small town with a dwindling population where small businesses were struggling to get by meant his hopes seemed uncertain at best. That is, until he began selling on eBay in 2007.
With a global marketplace at his fingertips, Yuuki found a world of anime fans hungry for collectible figurines, books, CDs and DVDs. He also found that his customers were just as passionate about sustainability and recommerce.
“In Japan, anime goods are often made in bulk but lose popularity after a few months and are thrown away,” he explained. “I have always found this practice wasteful, but introducing anime goods that have lost value in Japan to buyers overseas restores value to these collectibles while exciting fans worldwide.”
As Yuuki’s eBay store, FromNippon, grew in popularity, he began to search for ways to involve members of his community in the expansion of his business. After establishing a physical location in Asahikawa, his desire to help create economic opportunities for historically excluded people led him to connect with a disability outreach program. He now works with eight people in his store with various mental, intellectual and learning disabilities.
“I want to help each person find how they can contribute by focusing on their strengths, interests and goals,” he explained. “Especially in small communities with dwindling populations, I believe we can find a way to work with different types of skill sets and create a better society.”
Even million-dollar businesses start small. “My wife had some vintage dresses in her wardrobe that she wasn’t wearing, and she turned to eBay to list it,” says Carl Walker. This was in 2010. Fast forward to today, and Carl’s eBay business, which he runs with his wife Katie, Sarah Dean and Sam Hunter, has essentially outgrown a 10,000-square-foot warehouse, has sold over 150,000 items and, at least as importantly, has made a name for itself as a pioneer in fashion sustainability.
Their company, Go Thrift, operates out of northern England, near Manchester. For Carl and his co-founders, business and sustainability aren’t oppositional forces at all: they complement each other. Go Thrift’s mission is focused around creating, “a brand-new life for secondhand clothes, because everyone deserves outfits they love that don’t cost the Earth, literally.”
Go Thrift is a massive retailer of secondhand clothing, collected from and sold around the world. From that first closet-full of vintage dresses, Go Thrift has expanded into a million-dollar business.
Go Thrift’s efforts to keep wearable, fashionable clothing out of landfills has led to several recognitions. The company was given the Sustainable Seller Award at the eBay for Business Awards in 2021, and received funding from sustainable investment house OnePlanetCapital. With that funding, Go Thrift plans to move into a warehouse that provides three times as much space. That will allow them to continue to expand their sustainable operations by, for example, investing in solar panels for clean energy.
“It's obviously vitally important that we make a difference and have an impact, but we're not just in it for that; there's also a business sense behind it, with the demand for secondhand,” says Carl.
Helen Adekalu runs her jewelry and accessories business, Bosede Accessories, from her home in South London. She sells colorful, African-inspired jewelry that’s currently unavailable in local department stores without a huge markup.
She stocks and sources the bracelets, earrings, and headbands in her store with original designs from around the world and customizes them using African prints. And her hard work has paid off – with increased sales and requests to feature her products in monthly subscription boxes.
During the height of the Black Lives Matter protests, the majority of Helen’s Black-inspired pieces sold out, including her Black and Proud earrings. Her next priority is improving her marketing and creating even more products for her eBay store.