After reading Tom Friedman’s editorial about Tracy DiNunzio in The Sunday Times, I knew this was one gal whose black belt in resourcefulness could inspire those of us thinking about launching our own business in 2014.
DiNunzio’s back-story is simple. After a rapid-fire wedding and equally speedy divorce, she found a way to unload piles of unwanted wedding gifts, and in the process created a multi-million dollar business.
Instead of the hassle of returning her wedding stash to department stores, she started a clearinghouse called Recycled Bride. Her idea was to enable couples (or newly singles) to ditch unwanted or duplicate gifts, and select the swag they did want. It was a success.
Next, she turned her attention to her wardrobe overflowing with clothing she was also ready to divorce. She knew she wasn’t alone in thinking how nice it would be to get money for the unloved items hanging in her closet—and buy what she wanted at less-than-retail prices. As a result, Tradsey.com was born—a centralized online marketplace that lets women buy, sell, and trade clothing and accessories without online hassles or paying full price.
For a 9% cut on all transactions, Tradsey prices, lists, posts, ships, and handles returned goods. Starting with only $12,000 four years ago, DiNunzio now has a staff of 22 employees, and serves over 1 million customers a month who are able to buy luxury goods they couldn’t afford otherwise. A definite win for the seller, buyer, and according to Friedman, the “sharing” economy as well.
If this sounds all too easy, it wasn’t. DiNunzio scaled the learning curve, inch by inch, using the Internet to teach herself marketing, web design, and basic coding.
DiNunzio sees her recycling business as “lightweight living” which she thinks reflects the way many people prefer to live today. Instead of accumulating possessions, the focus is on utility: It’s about buying want you want, when you want it; then selling or trading it at will.
As she said in The New York Times: “We have a whole swath of middle-class consumers who are tired of buying disposable fashions…Now women can have their cake and eat it too.” Which is exactly what DiNunzio did.
Here’s to a happy New Year of resourceful thinking, and launching your own dreams, whatever they are.
Do you have a business idea you’re ready to launch?