Kerry Boozenny, ElegantKB
To Kerry Boozenny, selling on eBay fulfills a far greater objective than making money or building a business. It's an effective and rewarding way to promote a sustainable environment by giving a second or even third life to items that would otherwise wind up in a landfill.
As an eBay trading assistant and education specialist trained by eBay, she is dedicated to raising awareness about earth-friendly practices, while helping people find new homes for unwanted stuff.
Boozenny has devoted a page of her eBay Store, ElegantKB, to explaining her green policies, and she weaves a discussion of eBay's environmental initiatives into her eBay courses. Recently, she spoke about green shipping as a featured guest on VirtualOnlineLearning.com, hosted by Auctiva contributor Danna Crawford. And she's just published a new e-book about how to run an eco-friendly small business.
"I believe that if business owners don't pay attention to running a green operation now, they'll be sorry later," she says. "Not only is the cost of energy going up but I think the customers appreciate it, too. We run a small energy-efficient operation with very efficient customer service, and we're always looking for recycled paper and reusing our packaging.
I encourage my students and my customers to give used items another life
"My big goal is to someday have our office be completely solar-powered—being in California, we get plenty of sunshine," she adds. "That's something I'm trying to share with other sellers and people who are running small businesses, that it's really important to put green strategies into your business plan."
That includes educating buyers. Few consumers stop to think about what happens to a product at the end of its lifecycle, she notes. Rather than be tossed into the trash, many items can be reused—or even be fashioned into something entirely different. Beyond merely passing on "gently used" items to be used by someone else, old clothing can become scraps for quilt-making, for instance, and various everyday objects might find their way into art projects or other creations.
"I encourage my students and my customers to give used items another life," she explains. "I write a note on the packing slips saying, 'Here's how you care for this item,' and remind them to think about what's going to happen to it when they're done with it."
Assembling a green team
Environmental awareness wasn't always Boozenny's motivation for using eBay, but her green ideals evolved as she immersed herself more in the online world.
Early on, the fashion designer found eBay to be an excellent source for quality and affordable clothing for her fast-growing children, as well as beauty supplies and other household products. By 2005, she decided to try selling on the site to clear out some of the stuff that had accumulated over the years.
"We have too many collectors in the family," she laughs. "That's when I got hooked—it was like, 'Look, they do sell!'"
The hobby soon evolved into a small family business. Boozenny's husband helps with sourcing, while one of her daughters takes photos and uploads them into Auctiva listings.
To this day, ElegantKB offers items from personal collections but has expanded to handle consignments and estate sales, as well as offering gemstones and healing rocks that are direct-sourced from a mine owned by a family friend.
"I am a bit scattered in my direction," she admits. "Being small gives us the ability to be flexible. But good listing tools help us be efficient."
Efficiency's the key
Boozenny says Auctiva's listing tools for eBay enabled her to stay organized as the business took off down multiple paths. She started out using only the free Scrolling Gallery. But venturing deeper into the Auctiva tool box, she discovered features such as image hosting with supersizing and customizable selling profiles that were essential for representing the types of products she sells.
Having an efficient listing tool like Auctiva gives me time to spend on the research and do the intake of the estate collectible things
"I love that I can set up color-coded folders and keep myself organized by category," she says. "Photos can be color-coded, too. I don't think I could do all this without color coding.
"One of my favorite things about Auctiva is the scheduling," she continues. "I need to have my items on eBay when my customers are shopping—which, a lot of the time, is not when I'm online. So I can set things up in advance. That's a real time saver.
"Having an efficient listing tool like Auctiva gives me time to spend on the research and do the intake of the estate collectible things," she adds.
Recently, the opportunity came up to try one of Auctiva's newer features, Bulk Live-Listing Revision. When she had to be away from the store for an extended time, the bulk revision tool enabled her to quickly change the handling time on all of her live eBay listings.
"We were able to manage the business, even when we weren't around," Boozenny says.
"I tell my students, 'You have to sign up for Auctiva—at least use the Scrolling Gallery!' And then as they get more sophisticated—especially if they want to do the trading assistant business—I tell them it really makes sense to get on one of the monthly listing plans."
Planning for a green future
With interest in eBay growing, Boozenny hopes to expand the services side of her business—both teaching people about the basics of selling on eBay and helping others who don't want to do it themselves through trading assistance. She also helps estate sellers who would rather not work with large liquidators.
"One of my goals this year is to increase my time-to-market with estate items," she says. "I've got a lot of cool things our customers would love. And I'm starting to sell more globally, so I want to get stuff out there quickly.
"I'm also excited to release my e-book about green selling in April because it's going to be a big anniversary for Earth Day," she adds. "I don't think it's something everybody's thinking about yet. I'm trying, with my book, to get people motivated.
"I'd like to keep all of these things going and see where they lead," she says. "Finding one product to stick with doesn't seem like part of the plan."