Profile: Her Job's a Gem

Vintage jewelry seller finds a treasure trove on eBay.

by staff writer
- May 20, 2009

For Jenny Braun of Jenny's Vintage Jewels, selling on eBay was an all-or-nothing proposition.

"I went into it committed to make it work," she says. "Within six months of starting out, I was a PowerSeller."

Almost three years later, she's never looked back. And despite opportunities to list on other sites, Braun has stuck with eBay. Her dedication has paid off. With a singular focus on vintage costume jewelry—primarily lots—sales have tripled in three years and there's no limit in sight. Her listings are strictly in the auction format and typically start at $9.95 with no reserve.

"I just have faith in the eBay system and community that my stuff is going to sell—and it always does," she says. "I don't think I've ever sold a lot for the opening bid."

Oddly enough, Braun isn't one to don jewelry, except for her wedding ring. But dealing in large boxes of sparkles and trinkets has brought out an artistic side of her that she didn't know she had.

"I decorate my house with jewelry," she explains. "I have a constant supply of jewelry coming in here, so when I get tired of looking at something, I'll sell it and put something else up.

"It's fun to look at and it's really artistic. I never thought I was a creative person, but when I started taking pictures of the jewelry for my auctions, I would arrange it to look pretty. So I guess I am creative," she laughs.

Worth its weight in gold

Things fell into place when Braun purchased a flat of old bobbles

Discovering eBay couldn't have been more of a blessing. When a chronic ailment made it impossible to maintain a job outside the home, Braun began looking for home-based business alternatives. Though she'd never been on eBay before, she thought it seemed like as good a place as any to start.

At first, Braun had no particular direction. She frequented local auctions, garage sales and even eBay, looking for just about anything she could possibly sell for a profit. But things fell into place when, early in her selling efforts, she purchased a flat of old bobbles.

"When I researched the jewelry on eBay, I thought, 'Wow, there's really a market for that,'" she recalls. "I started watching jewelry lots, and I could see they were going for big dollars. So I bought a few to see what they were like, and I got some good ideas from doing that."

It wasn't long after Braun began selling on eBay that she came across Auctiva and began using the eBay templates, seller profiles and One-Page Lister to quickly create professional-looking auctions with a consistent look and feel. To further establish her brand, she purchased a domain name,, through Auctiva, and has business cards printed up with the URL—which points to her Auctiva store.

The following year, she attended eBay Live in Boston. There, she spent most of her time at the Auctiva booth learning how to better utilize the company's ebay selling tools to increase efficiency and create more impactful listings.

"Auctiva is great—I'm so thankful for it," Braun says. "I can prepare a bunch of listings and save them in Auctiva, and they're all set to go when I want to post them.

"It's so easy to list. I always use the same eBay templates so my listings have a consistent look," she explains. "I have such great repeat business, and I think it's because people know what to expect when they look at my site."

Silver lining

eBay is great. I know it has flaws, but I'm the best boss I've ever had

The community aspect of eBay is important to this seller, and she strives to maintain the same cooperative spirit the e-commerce site was built upon. In that vein, Braun has become a top 5,000 reviewer through her contributions to eBay Guides, which include essays about decorating with rhinestones and costume jewelry, proper packing and shipping of jewelry, and raising DSR and feedback scores.

The latter dissertation stemmed from a misunderstanding that resulted in the only negative feedback she's received in her entire time on eBay.

"I learned from that, and decided to make it into a positive," she says. "I totally changed the look of my listings. I now have a 100-percent return policy on every listing. That's worked out really well—I think people appreciate that. And I always include explanations of why I photograph items the way I do, and what to expect when you buy pre-owned jewelry."

Though the experience was "devastating," it didn't slow Braun down at all. If anything, it's made her more determined to provide a flawless experience for her buyers.

"In any job, there's always going to be negatives; you just have to find the positives," she says. "eBay is great. I know it has flaws, but I'm the best boss I've ever had.

"I have no desire to go a different route," she continues. "I'm really happy where I am right now. I'm thriving on eBay. And the way the economy is right now, I feel really lucky.

"The last two years, I've had to file a tax return. When I have to pay Uncle Sam, I'm doing all right," she laughs.

Browse Braun's jewelry listings at

About the Author

Auctiva staff writers constantly monitor trends and best practices of those selling on eBay and elsewhere online. They attend relevant training seminars and trade shows and regularly discuss the market with PowerSellers and other market experts.

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