Editor’s note: In celebration of eBay’s 25th anniversary, we’re spotlighting a seller every week from our global community in our Mini-Stories column through 2020.
Providing for his family has always played a fundamental role in Ali Rezazadeh’s life. What began as a side hustle repairing sewing machines quickly developed into the main source of income for Ali and his family when he launched his eBay store Nähmaschinenmechaniker in 2010. By combining his lifelong passion for rebuilding sewing machines with years of customer service experience, Ali was able to help his family more easily integrate into German society — and create a successful international business.
Ali’s fascination with sewing machines began when he was just a child. Growing up in Iran, his older brother would bring him to his sewing machine workshop, where Ali would admire his brother’s handiwork. “I was not allowed to touch anything – that was the deal,” he recalled fondly. “But being there and witnessing a sewing machine come back to life was the best for me.”
As a young child, Ali became his brother’s apprentice at the workshop. Motivated by his brother’s success and intrigued by the idea of building his own machinery, Ali tried his hand at his own projects early on. “I built my first radio when I was 7 years old,” said Ali. Buoyed by the success of his working radio, Ali continued to make more, taking them to local retailers as fast as he built them — what he now laughingly calls his first foray into “mass production and retail.” Though most potential customers declined to buy young Ali’s radios, one older gentleman purchased Ali’s entire stock. “He appreciated my passion for technology and sales,” he said. “In retrospect, that encounter had a big impact on me,” proving as inspiration for Ali’s future business. Ali grew up to become a certified sewing machine mechanic, continuing in his love of that early technical work.
When Ali and his family came to Germany as refugees in 2001, he worked a series of temporary jobs to help support his family. But he always missed his mechanical career, so in 2010, he started selling his repaired sewing machines on eBay as a side gig. “After a short time, eBay became my main source of income, so that I was able to quit my job as a delivery man and dedicate myself completely to my passion and vocation,” he said.
Today, Ali runs his eBay shop Nähmaschinenmechaniker along with a brick-and-mortar store in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. His storefront includes an integrated workshop, where Ali is able to build, repair and sell on site. His inventory spans everything from sewing needles and spools to lamps and miscellaneous spare parts. “My eBay shop gives customers everything they need for sewing, regardless of whether they are a professional or hobby tailor,” he said. “It all started with old sewing machines, which I brought back to life by repairs or overhauls to sell them on eBay. I found a market niche that was perfectly tailored to my skills. Afterward, I continued to expand my sales assortment.”
A Bernina sewing machine
Ali’s sewing machine inventory
Ali now sells his goods worldwide, with 10 percent sold in Europe, the U.S., Canada, Australia, Israel, Chile, Thailand and South Korea. Ali credits his growth and progress to the size and reach of eBay’s global marketplace. “Right from the start, eBay was the platform that enabled me to take my first steps towards self-employment,” he said. “I owe my current business model to eBay. Without this platform, I would not be where I am today.”
In 2019, Ali was recognized as one of the five recipients of the German Seller Awards from a pool of 470 applicants. Ali won in the category of “Everyday Hero” for his dedication to his practice in the face of change and hardship. “Winning an eBay seller award was not just an acknowledgement for me, I also felt like part of the eBay seller family,” he recalled. “While I’ve tried selling on other platforms, eBay is the only one where I’ve stayed.”
His secret to success? Ali believes being accessible to his customers is critical in gaining their trust and providing the best shopping experience. “Being helpful and objective, even in difficult situations, pays off,” he said. Instead of singling out one favorite past sale, Ali enjoys all his customer interactions, from more profitable sales — such as a Bernina sewing machine he bought for 80€ and sold for 850€ — to machines he’s sent to customers in distant countries. “Then there are those machines that simply brought joy to the consumer, because they had been looking for that specific model for a long time,” he said. ”eBay provides an uncomplicated, smart way to start a new business. It’s up to you to make the best out of it.”
As for Ali’s future plans for his store, "the next step is to expand the variety of goods and grow my stationery business,” he said. “I moved to bigger facilities last year, but now I’m planning to expand even more. Then I’ll also start selling industrial sewing machines."
Reflecting on his eBay journey, Ali knows he made the right decision when he launched his online store ten years ago. “eBay changed my life. In 2010, when I was repairing and selling old sewing machines as a side business, eBay was a real stepping stone. Now, ten years later, I have my own store and workshop,” Ali said. “eBay enabled me to take my first steps toward independence right from the start. Without this platform, I would not be where I am today: well integrated into German society.”
Empowering entrepreneurship and creating economic opportunity for all has been our philosophy at eBay since we were founded 25 years ago. Our marketplace has been enriched by the hundreds of thousands of independent small businesses and entrepreneurs worldwide. We win when they do. Learn more about how we partner with our sellers.