In 2002, a failed business attempt left Clara Jeanne LaCelle with several thousand dollars of sellable makeup inventory. When her friend introduced her to eBay, she applied the same grit, resilience, and resourcefulness she had while growing up in foster care to start her eBay business. Over the years, Jeanne grew her business and ultimately put her four children through college, completely debt-free. With her children taken care of and her financial burden erased, Jeanne turned her energy to supporting charities. She’s donated over $150,000 to girls in the foster care system and helps train them on life skills to thrive.
Q: Where does the inspiration for your business come from?
A: The inspiration for my business is to be financially independent to provide for the needs of my family and to be able to have the ability to help others in need.
Q: How has selling on eBay contributed to your success?
A: eBay was one of the frontrunners in providing home-based business opportunities that could rival a traditional workplace income. The eBay platform allowed me to work from home, first as a hobby, and then transitioning into a full-time business. Being able to set my own hours and increase or decrease my workload based on family needs has been the main reason I have been selling on this platform for almost two decades.
Q: What is your proudest moment on eBay?
A: Watching my four children graduate from college 100 percent debt-free was most certainly the pinnacle of my eBay career. All of my children have worked for me, from sourcing inventory, listing items for sale, shipping and receiving, to warehouse stocking and accounting. They have been able to learn important business skills, which I know will be useful to them in their respective careers.
Q: How has selling on eBay impacted your life?
A: What started out as a hobby quickly grew as the financial needs of our family increased. Our four children were all born in a three-year period, and before we could blink, we had four children in college. We suddenly needed a new source of income. My husband is a fourth generation union tradesman and was already working as many hours as possible to provide for our family. eBay became our solution. I cannot imagine another career where we would have been able to increase our income so rapidly.
Q: What is your favorite eBay tool/program? Do you connect with other sellers on eBay?
A: I love the new bulk savings feature, which has increased my sales tremendously! I also regularly use markdown manager in conjunction to give buyers the best possible prices. I offer a class 1-2 times per year in my community that teaches the basics of how to buy and sell on eBay. It’s exciting to see others learn the business and begin to develop financial independence for their families. I also plan business trips with some of the most ambitious members of these training sessions.
Q: Why do you believe a customer should buy from you?
A: I have always believed that honesty and fairness is the heart of a successful business. When a customer purchases a product from Surfinjunkie, we aim to surpass their expectations. We regularly write personalized notes to buyers, throw in free samples or gifts, and try our best to resolve any conflicts that might arise. In addition, we purchase inventory only from sources that we are 100 percent certain are offering untampered, genuine health and beauty products.
Q: How has eBay allowed you to give back to the charity, community, or cause you are passionate about?
A: I was taken from my biological mother at the age of 5 and placed into foster care for 13 years. By the time I was 20 years old, I had been homeless three times. Although my life has been transformed, I have never forgotten my journey. I work closely with a local organization called the Glass Slipper that provides life skills and business training to foster girls that are at risk of homelessness and human trafficking. In the past year alone, we have been able to donate over $8,000 in cash and gifts to help these young women directly from our business income. Someone once said, “Those that have been through hell should be carrying buckets of water for those still consumed by the fire.” I try to live by those words.