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Exploring Life & Business with Charlayna B. of The HOT Exchange

Today we’d like to introduce you to Charlayna B.

Hi Charlayna, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I started selling the clothes and shoes I didn’t wear anymore on reseller sites like Mercari. Then my family became tasked with cleaning out my Great Aunt’s home since she could no longer live there. There were mounds and mounds of clothes, shoes, accessories, home decor, and more. I’m talking about a home full of vintage and antiques. I am a huge lover of vintage and thrift stores, so it was only right to start reselling and launch my own business, The HOT Exchange. While maintaining an online store, I’ve ventured into pop-up shops and don’t see myself stopping anytime soon. Pop-ups have been the highlight of my business- bringing you a personal treasure-hunting experience.

Can you talk to us about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
The road hasn’t always been smooth. I hate to say it, but I don’t do well with online sales yet, and it’s all my fault. I struggle with marketing and, more importantly, listing the products on my site so people can buy them. I worked with taking photos and just managing such a large inventory. Since each piece of stock is different, everything needs its photo and product description. This led me to do pop-up shops where I could bring a portion of my inventory to set up at an in-person location for people to shop. I felt my customers needed to see my curated collection in person; of course, people love it. I do great at my pop-ups. The photos and descriptions wouldn’t do any justice.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next, you can tell us a bit more about your business.
The HOT Exchange is an online and pop-up-based thrift and consignment shop. We sell vintage and preloved clothing, shoes, handbags, accessories, home decor, and more. We are known as your one-stop thrift shop with affordable pricing for quality preloved and vintage finds. Most vintage shops usually are higher priced due to the quality and value of the item, but here at The HOT Exchange, we offer quality vintage at the price you want to pay. We aim to find every piece of inventory a new home or purpose.

I am so happy with the success of my pop-up shops. I genuinely love doing pop-ups so people can shop with us in person. Since pop-ups have been the highlight of my reselling business, I created an ebook, “My First Vintage Pop-Up: A Beginner’s Guide for Vintage Pop-Up Shops.” To help other resellers and potential resellers venture into another way to help their business thrive. Pop-ups are a great way to make money without the hassle of listing online, bring awareness to my business, and network! As someone who hates listing items online, I find that pop-ups are so much better for me because the photos I take and the descriptions I create could never amount to the experience of providing my customers with seeing my collection firsthand. I also enjoy meeting new people and connecting with other small business owners. So that leads me to get involved with local pop-up shops, and it’s the best decision I have made for The HOT Exchange. The first pop-up that I did, I was so very nervous! I didn’t know what to expect or what I may have needed until I arrived. Now it wasn’t all bad. I did learn a lot just from this first experience, as I do with each pop-up, but I thought it would be best if I were truly prepared. My First Vintage Pop-Up does just that. I’ve put together a guide for resellers and potential resellers that includes detail on how to find vending opportunities, a list of what’s needed, how to prepare for a pop-up, helpful tips, and shopping links (for the first few people to order upon release). This guide will ensure you are prepared for your first pop-up shop. It will be released soon.

Where we are in life is often partly because of others. Who/what else deserves credit for how your story turned out?

  • My family and friends have been highly supportive of my business, and I can’t thank them enough for their donations and support at my pop-ups.
  • My business coach, @bizcoachri, always guides me in managing and promoting my business on social media.
  • My partner, @scottiepiff, does the hard work of helping transport and set up pop-up shops.
  • And most of all, everyone who comes out to shop at our weekend pop-up shops really deserves all the credit! You help me in my journey to promote sustainability by shopping vintage and preloved.

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