Having moved to France with my husband, 3 kids, a cat, dog and a teaching sabbatical, I imagined long walks, reading, lunching, mid-week skiing, the odd run, baking and having tea ready when the kids get home. However, my new life wasn’t quite that simple and I found myself in the same ‘home life rut’. After 6
Having moved to France with my husband, 3 kids, a cat, dog and a teaching sabbatical, I imagined long walks, reading, lunching, mid-week skiing, the odd run, baking and having tea ready when the kids get home. However, my new life wasn’t quite that simple and I found myself in the same ‘home life rut’.
After 6 months I had no real reason for being in France, I was lonely and I had no “joie de vivre”! Everyone’s answer was “get a job”.
I have had many people ask me to tutor their children, but it’s all been evening work, ultimately too stressful for us. My husband travels a lot and I have no support network, so I need to be around.
Being employed wasn’t going to work for me and my family. I had to think of a way of working for myself. I’d left the UK to do something different, nothing that tied me down, no fixed hours, something I could pick up, put down. But whilst enjoying seemingly eternal leisure I also needed to use my brain, have a bit of a challenge… Just wasn’t sure where to start!
So I began by deciding what I enjoy most; basically time with my children, sports/outdoor activities and clothes, antique, bargain hunting (shopping!). I’d always been able to spot a bargain in the charity shops at home and had sold a few items of clothes and made money. I initially thought charity shops weren’t that big in France, but did my research and found a massive one nearby, which has turned into a goldmine. I then started to treat trips to car boot sales (vide greniers) and brocantes (antiques markets) as work rather than chances to find items for our home.
I started by buying items that I liked and could keep, just in case they didn’t sell. I was already registered on eBay and so just started slowly selling there. Having sold my own items for several years I was comfortable with the eBay format. Surprisingly, things did sell and not only that, but they sold quickly and for a profit. After 3 months I realised that this could work.
After one year, I’ve sold 267 items and only made a loss on 3 (mainly because I got the postage cost wrong). I truly surprised myself as I don’t think of myself as a “business woman”. I didn’t even have a business plan and didn’t put money aside, I just bought a couple of things I liked and then sold them.
I’m now a lot more organised with real accounts, storage and labelling systems and I actually invested in some bubble wrap! I put one day aside each week to pack and load things onto eBay and to keep proper accounts. I fit the shopping and post office jobs into my normal life, just popping in as I travel around, so it doesn’t feel like going to work. I have found that my business slots in and doesn’t affect my family life; it certainly hasn’t taken over like teaching did.
Mostly I make regular moderate profits, but have sold a few items for “super-profits” and the buzz I get is enormous! It’s not the money, the feeling comes because I’m like a child playing a game that I win using my superpowers. In fact buying and selling antiques is not easy money and not to everyone’s taste. Digging around in boxes of rubbish for that bargain and queuing at the post office aren’t glamorous!
Now my children understand that I work for us all and respect me and my time a bit more (children never will see cooking and housework as a job will they?). After one year I still love this lifestyle, and I don’t want to upscale. I haven’t got a fancy eBay page and I haven’t started to sell through other sites yet. Maybe these advances will come, maybe I’m happy operating at this level; I can still spend time with my children, go for lunch or walk the dogs without feeling pressure. And I have that “something for me” which gives structure to my week, that’s flexible, brings in some money and makes me feel good when I do it.
By ROS, MUM OF 3 AND 2 DOGS