This is How To Build A $100 Million Dollar Fashion Brand (With No Investors or Debt)

Table of Contents

Intro: Ebay Is A Powerful Incubator

In the dynamic landscape of e-commerce, there is a pantheon of self-made, successful entrepreneurs who, armed with vision and perseverance, have managed to turn their small-time side hustles into booming, multi-million dollar enterprises. Among these inspiring narratives, the one that stands out for its extraordinary scale of transformation and innovative approach is the journey of Tori Gerbig, the founder and CEO of Pink Lily. Tori was recently interviewed by CNBCMakeIt and I wanted to share her utterly remarkable story.

Born from the humble beginnings of a modest eBay shop, Pink Lily has metamorphosed into a renowned online boutique, a testament to the unwavering entrepreneurial spirit of Tori Gerbig. 

Tori Gerbig shares her inspirational story of Ebay side hustle to $141 million dollar brand!

As a platform, eBay has long been known to provide a lucrative opportunity for people looking to make an extra buck. However, Gerbig’s meteoric rise in the e-commerce world illustrates the immense potential that eBay has – not just as a side hustle, but a launchpad to grander business aspirations.

The journey of Pink Lily underscores the potential of eBay as an incubator for groundbreaking business ideas, a tool to validate product-market fit, and an enabler to reach a global audience with the mere click of a button. Tori’s ascent from an eBay seller to a multi-millionaire businesswoman is a gripping tale of aspiration, ingenuity, and relentless determination. It paints a vivid picture of the limitless possibilities that await those who are willing to hustle hard, dream big, and, most importantly, keep learning.

In this blog, we delve into Tori Gerbig’s fascinating entrepreneurial journey, shedding light on how she harnessed the power of eBay to build the foundation of what is today a flourishing e-commerce empire. We’ll provide actionable insights and inspiration to fuel your own side hustle journey, showcasing that, with a strategic approach, you can leverage eBay as a stepping stone to your entrepreneurial success. From the nitty-gritty of setting up an eBay store to the nuances of scaling it into a multi-million dollar business, we’re going to explore it all.

Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur or a seasoned business person, Tori’s remarkable story serves as a guiding light, proving that a side hustle, even on eBay, can indeed become a prosperous and rewarding full-time venture. So, get ready to be inspired, to learn, and to elevate your eBay hustle to a whole new level of success!

Tori Gerbig: From Side Hustle to $141 Million Dollar Business 

“The moment I knew I was ready to quit my job was whenever I started making more in online sales in a day than I was earning with my paycheck and my corporate job. My name is Tori Gerberg and I’m the founder and CEO of Pink Lilly. In 2014, I walked away from my job making under $40,000 a year, and last year on my e-commerce site, we brought in over $141 million in revenue.” 

Tori Gerbig’s Backstory

“In 2009, I graduated from college right in the middle of our recess. The only job that I could find was selling insurance and I started out making $25,000 a year. After graduating college, my husband, Chris and I had over $70,000 in student loans, plus a mortgage and car loans. We were really barely getting by.

So we decided to start selling on eBay to help supplement our income. We sold things from golf clubs to Halloween masks, just about anything that we could, that we would find going viral on the internet and we could get for wholesale to sell at retail price on eBay. I was posting items on there daily and it was a huge increase based on the years prior on eBay.

Tori Gerbig, how to set up a multimillion dollar e-commerce store

Facebook Groups: A Key To Success

When Tory was on unpaid maternity leave in share created a Facebook group to sell clothes and accessories. She purchased wholesale products from LA, South Korea and China. 

“So the Facebook group really helped catapult the sales and really ignited the fire in this whole business. Once we launched the Facebook group and I went back to work full-time after my maternity leave. My son was about four months old, so I was getting very little sleep at night. I would work during the day eight to four 30, come home, cook dinner, do the fun bedtime routine with him, and then head to the Facebook page group and post the product’s PayPal invoice and ship products out until about one to two o’clock in the morning. So it was very little sleep I was getting around that time”. 

By late 2013 the husband and wife entrepreneurs were bringing in $500 per day in sales.

“I do remember selling items out of the trunk of my car though on my lunch breaks and asking to leave early here and there for me to go into town to meet people, to sell my products”.

Tori and Chris used the profits to pay off their student debts and reinvest back into the business. In early 2014 Tori and Chris launched Pink Lily online.

“It was time for us to launch this website so we could reach a larger audience and it would also capture sales at any time during the day versus only whenever I was on with the Facebook group”.

The couple hired a freelancer on Fiverr to build their website for only $500. 

“It was pretty bad right out of the box, but it was an e-commerce store and that’s all we needed. Our goal was to bring in over a hundred thousand dollars in sales in one month.

So we hit that on our fourth month in business and at that time we decided that it would better suit me to focus on growing the business than it would for me to sell insurance. So in April of 2014, I decided that it was time for me to walk away, and then in July of 2014, my husband left his corporate position as well. We did have an emergency fund.

I think it had around $10,000 in it so we could get by, I believe for just a couple months if things were to go wrong. I remember our goal for the first year was $50,000 in sales, so to hit over $4 million our very first year in business was just phenomenal. We were so ecstatic from 2014 to 2015, we grew from $4.1 million in revenue to over $12 million in revenue.

In 2021 we ended the year with over $141 million in revenue to the site.”

In 2017 Pink Lily opened a retail store in Bowling Green.

“I do love having a retail store and, I don’t think it’s out of the question for the future, but it hasn’t been the main focus. Only because online has grown so fast”

Today Pink Lily has over 250 employees and 210,000 square feet of warehouse space.

Working With Your Husband

“It is not the easiest thing in the world to have a business with your spouse. Luckily, we work very well together and I think it’s because we also worked together prior to starting a business. We did meet while working at a restaurant in college, and we’re very familiar with the way that both of us work.

We both have very hardworking personalities and we go very well together because my husband is much more laid back. I’m very highly-strung, so we complement each other very well, which works for us”.

Tori and Chris Gerbig

What Does Your Day-To-Day Look like?

Tori works a manageable 50-55 hours per week.

“I would say that this year is probably the first year where I can work a little bit less due to us hiring so many directors over the last two years

Prior to that, I was working anywhere from 60 to 70 hours a week. My day-to-day changes every single day. So I come in and several days a week I have a full calendar of Zoom meetings, touch bases with the directors and marketing team, buying team, customer service team. One day a week, I still go to the buying meetings because I still have a very large input on the product that we carry for the customer.

And then I also still travel with the photo shoot team occasionally a few times a year, as well as the buying team to Los Angeles, to Nashville, and to markets around the country.

Tell us About Taking The Plunge and Leaving Your Job

“Leaving corporate America and starting Pinkly was one of the very best decisions I’ve made in my life. It has opened up so many opportunities. I have gotten to meet amazing women and men throughout the whole country.

I get to travel, I get to spend more time with my kids. We are debt free. We have the financial freedom to do so many things in life, and I honestly just am much happier now that I get to work for myself.

Tori Gerbig

Tori Berger: CEO

I didn’t grow up in a place where I was told that as a female that I could do anything I wanted to. It was, you know, most of my family members were teachers or nurses and, and that’s what I thought I had to do. So for me to, to now be a CEO of an Inc 5,000 brand that we started and to only be 35 years old, that was really something that I want to instill in my girls to know that just because you’re a CEO doesn’t, you know, you don’t have to be a male.

You can be a female, you can be a female leader in any industry and be very successful.”

Turning Dreams into Reality – The Takeaway from Tori Gerbig’s Journey

The extraordinary journey of Tori Gerbig from a modest eBay seller to the CEO of a $141 million business is not merely a tale of success; it’s an emblem of dreams turning into reality. Her path offers profound insights into the world of entrepreneurship, but more importantly, it stands as a beacon of hope, determination, innovation, and the indomitable spirit of believing in oneself.

Through her story, we see the evolution of a side hustle born from a need to make ends meet, into a powerful global brand. It unveils the essence of how platforms like eBay can serve as fertile ground for nurturing business ideas, providing the spark needed to ignite something profound.

Pink Lily’s success wasn’t achieved overnight, nor did it come easily. It’s a testament to perseverance, strategic thinking, adaptability, and the relentless pursuit of a vision. Tori’s synergy with her husband, her ability to leverage social media, and her courage to take risks have carved a pathway that many can follow, but few dare to tread.

How To set Up A MultiMillion Dollar Fashion Brand

As we close this illuminating glimpse into the world of a self-made multimillionaire, we are left with actionable lessons, motivation, and a clear message that with the right mix of vision, perseverance, hard work, and a dash of ingenuity, success is not only achievable but well within reach.

Whether you’re grappling with the idea of starting a side hustle, scaling a small business, or dreaming bigger, let Tori Gerbig’s story inspire you to transcend your limitations, embrace the power within you, and create your success story. Because, like Tori, you too can redefine what’s possible.

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