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.
Victoria Eagle has turned her personal passion into a full-time profession on eBay. At her home in Hertfordshire, England, cards with twining florals and delicate leaves are scattered on tables and a printer turns out vibrant thank yous dedicated to health care professionals while her children play nearby. It’s a business that integrates perfectly within both her home and lifestyle, while also proving a smashing success.
“My business has changed my whole life,” Victoria says. “It’s let me be the mum I always wanted to be, and it gives me a flexibility and freedom in my life that I never had before. And eBay is the platform that has allowed me to have that.”
Jump back in time eight years, though, and Victoria was suffering postpartum depression and had just left the retail management track she’d been on for the past 15 years. WIth a baby and young child at home, “I just couldn’t do those hours anymore,” she said. “But I’ve always been someone who worked, I needed a job and something to do.”
Driven and determined, Victoria has a personality that lends itself well to entrepreneurship. “I like to do it all myself to know things are getting done to how I want,” she said, grinning. At the same time, she has a strong creative side, born from her career in fashion retail and honed with an interest in interior design; “I’ve upcycled and repainted my whole house, my husband’s despairing of me,” she said.
An example of a wedding package from Victoria’s store
Victoria knew she loved weddings after planning her own, and after selling clothes for years on her personal eBay account, Victoria was comfortable with the platform. So she decided to turn her talents to making wedding invitations and cards as her new career. After a brief Photoshop tutorial from her sister, she set up her home laptop and printer on her dining table and named her business Pegs and Pearls — a play on the wooden pegs used in shabby chic style mixed with the glamour and sheen of pearls. She listed her first items and opened her eBay shop in September 2012.
Then she waited. “I just sat there with my kids, refreshing the page, hoping there’d be a message or sale or something,” she said. “But I didn’t sell anything for three months.” One night in January, Victoria was taking a bath, “ and I could just hear my phone going, cha-ching, cha-ching, cha-ching,” she said. “It all went mad.” That one month alone, she made 8,000 pounds in sales. As it turns out, with the winter holidays over, January is when brides typically plan their weddings, Victoria explained.
Victoria’s home office
The pace ebbs and flows from those consistent January peaks, but overall, Victoria has created a full-time job from her eBay profits. She’s since moved houses and now has a dedicated space for her office tucked at the end of the kitchen. In addition to wedding invitations, she’s expanded to products such as party invites, baby announcements and thank you cards.
The styles of her offerings have also shifted to meet customer needs. “If you don’t refresh your range and stay ahead of the curve and on trend, you’ll get left behind,” she said. “I’m constantly looking at the competition, in wedding and fashion magazines, online, anything I can take inspiration from.”
An updated take on Victoria’s bestselling postcard
When she started, it was all about bunting, vintage florals and rustic paper. “Now it’s a lot of crisp white backgrounds with simple florals and greenery on them,” she said, adding with a laugh, “but my number one bestseller is still a shabby chic postcard.” Her personal favorites are greenery and watercolors, but she has over 450 products on her page to provide something for everyone’s taste.
That attention to detail and trends has gained her a loyal following. People order thank you cards post-wedding; others return every year for their children’s birthday invitations. She also appreciates connecting with customers. “A woman even messaged me that she punched her husband in the arm when she heard me on the radio and said, ‘that’s the lady that did our invites!’ That sort of thing is lovely,” she said. Though most of her sales are within the U.K., Victoria has customers all over the globe, including the U.S., Australia, Malta, Ireland and Argentina.
Her work hours before the pandemic-forced lockdown centered around her children’s school hours; now, they’re a bit more elastic, and her business has slowed as weddings have ceased. As a result, Victoria has created some new products to suit the times, including thank you cards for health care workers, virtual-hug cards and prints, with and without frames, meant to add a little color and cheer to any wall.
The eBay “Be Your Own Boss” Award that Victoria won in 2019 alongside a photo of her husband and children
Victoria said that other people, especially mothers, frequently ask how they can start their own online businesses. Her advice? “Just do it. If you don’t try, you won’t know,” she encouraged. “I don’t have business training, I left school with the minimum amount of qualifications. If I can do it, anyone can. eBay makes it very accessible to everyone in any country to do what I do from home. As long as you have a laptop, you can set up a shop. It’s very minimal what I have to do to run my business on there. And eBay gives me that exposure that no other platform can.”
In addition to providing the extra income for home repairs, holidays and general family maintenance, Victoria credits her store for getting her through the ups and downs of life — and she sees that being the case for her career path moving forward on eBay. “Ever since I started my store in 2012, my business has been my salvation. I get to work from home, pick and choose my hours, be with my kids all the time,” she said. “I have to pinch myself sometimes and think about how lucky I am to have the job I do. I wouldn’t want to ever do anything else.”
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.