Maribel Candido loves creating elaborate, colorful cakes. She discovered this passion in 2002 while she recovered from a stroke.
"I wanted to keep my mind busy, and I didn't want to think about what happened to me, so I started reading about cake decorating," explains the now Top-rated seller and owner of Mary'sCakeTopperGiftsParty on eBay. "I pushed myself to do it, and I did."
The mother of three had recently quit her job of 14 years at a manufacturing company to go back to school. However, after the stroke left her unable to move the left side of her body, she had to stop attending classes to focus on recovery. For some, the situation might have been too much to bear, but for Candido, it meant she had to look for additional ways to keep busy. She decided starting her own online business was the best option, and eBay seemed like the perfect venue.
Drawing from the past
Before the stroke, Candido had sold her granddaughter's unused baby formula on eBay. The little girl was allergic, and couldn't drink the formula, Candido explains. But rather than throw away several tins of the powdery substance—along with the money spent on them—Candido decided to list the formula on eBay.
"It was really selling fast, and I was making extra money," she recalls.
I feel really good that I am making someone happy when they get my products in their hands and say, 'I really needed this.'
This experience gave the budding entrepreneur confidence to take the plunge into selling full time while she recovered. Her experience selling baby formula had shown Candido that if she provided good descriptions and photos, sales were not hard to come by. Plus, selling on eBay would also allow her to keep a steady flow of income coming in, work at her pace and keep nurturing her passion for pastry making.
"eBay was my way to offer products and make the money that I needed to continue to learn about cakes, and to buy my stuff for it," she adds.
Today, Candido's eBay Store is filled with everything a baker would need to make attractive cakes, cupcakes and cookies, plus fun party accessories like 3-D centerpieces.
She also weaves in the occasional children's clothing items so that people who can't afford to pay full price for cute children's attire can still buy these for their kids, she says.
"I always try to give the best price and the lowest cost on shipping," she notes.
Prettying up a business
Candido, now recovered and able to move the left side of her body, has always done most of the work involved in running her business, even as she was recovering. Her oldest daughter, Erika, helped occasionally, but for the most part, it's always been up to Candido to look for inventory, take photos, create descriptions and handle all aspects of her sales.
She keeps her listings simple and accurate—a strategy that has attracted a lot of buyers. The seller has more than 10,000 feedbacks and maintains better than a 99-percent positive feedback score.
It's an accomplishment Candido is proud of.
"Feedback, that's the best way to build trust," she notes. "I feel really good that I am making someone happy when they get my products in their hands and say, 'I really needed this.'"
Easy-to-understand and up-front policies for payment, shipping and returns have likely contributed to the positive feedback as well, as shoppers know exactly what to expect when they shop in Candido's store. And if they have any questions, she welcomes them, and responds quickly.
Auctiva has a nice setup and is easy to use. I would recommend it to anybody who would like to start selling online
Auctiva has also been a big help for the seller, who knows that, just as it's important to craft beautiful cakes for special occasions, creating professional and attractive listings is also a key to draw in buyers. That's where Auctiva's eBay listing templates come into play. She pairs these with supersized images to give buyers a good feel for what they're bidding on. And Auctiva's Scrolling Gallery gives shoppers a sneak peak of other items she has for sale.
"I like Auctiva because it's fast and easy to understand," Candido notes. "It has a nice setup and is easy to use. I would recommend Auctiva to anybody who would like to start selling online."
Building her own business has been very satisfying for this baker, not just financially, but personally.
"With the money I make, I can pay all my bills and take vacations—something that I couldn't do in the 14 years that I worked for the manufacturing company," she explains. Her daughters love the fact that their mom is now her own boss and has been able to expand her brand even beyond eBay by offering her cake-decorating skills to people in her local area.
Candido's elaborate cakes, like the cheerful three-tiered cake she made for her granddaughter's sixth birthday, are now staples at family functions.
"It's funny because one of my daughters said, 'Mom, you're making more money than me, and you're at home all the time,'" she says.
What advice does the seller have for others who have gone through a traumatic health issue, like she did?
"Have faith," she says. "Be strong, and you can do it! Be positive there are a lot of ways you can make money. With eBay, you can do it slowly, but you will [do it] with time. I am so happy that I can be my own boss and work at my pace."
Visit Mary'sCakeTopperGiftsParty on eBay.