Bethany on TV

Bethany being filmed by the ABC Nightline crew

Did you catch Bethany Stutsman on ABC’s Nightline last week or Good Morning America this morning? The 2009 Lake Highlands High School grad was featured in their story on Instagram personal shopping, a new trend where people offer gently used, often designer goods for sale on social media. Bethany, who graduated from Texas A&M with a degree in dance and creative studies, says there’s plenty of money to be made in this online version of the upscale garage sale.

What made you jump into this instead of a “traditional” fashion business?

I really didn’t do much jumping into this scene, I more just happened upon it. I was planning on moving to New York after I graduated last May to pursue my career as a professional dancer. With the move in mind, I knew I would need to downsize my closet to fit into a closet in NYC, and if I made a little money doing it, that would obviously be great. I have done a lot of garage sales in the past, but putting on a garage sale is a huge job and one I didn’t have time for at that point, so close to graduation. I did not know that anyone was selling anything on Instagram, but I thought that there HAD to be someone out there who was interested in my things. All of the clothes I was looking to sell were great brands in excellent condition, I just wasn’t getting enough use out of them. I poked around in Instagram and searched hashtags like #shopmycloset, #igsale and #instashop and to my surprise I found a whole community of people running these shops and making money. I created @BethanyStylePage and started posting pictures of my things. It did not take long for people to start claiming the items I posted. When I ran out of clothes to sell, I was having so much fun that I started searching in thrift shops and consignment stores looking for clothes to sell to my new followers. This didn’t become anything more than a fun hobby until a close family friend took an interest in what I was doing. He liked the business model of it so much that he offered to help me with the financial side of it. Before I knew it, I was l looking at an opportunity for this to become my full time job. Though it did mean sacrificing my move to New York for the time being, it seemed like a once-in-a-lifetime, now-or-never situation, and I couldn’t walk away from it not knowing how it might unfold.

How did you wind up on ABC’s Nightline?

I got an email from someone at Nightline a few weeks ago telling me they wanted to do a segment on the hashtag #shopmycloset and were wondering if I was interested in being part of it. At first it was supposed to be a contest between a few shops on who could make the most money selling on Instagram in 48 hours. I’m glad they ended up taking the contest aspect out of it though – I feel like the segment was more informative without it.

Did you have a watching party with friends or curl up with a blanket in front of the TV?

It was difficult because until the reporter got in from New York to film me, I had no idea the segment would be airing that night. I would have loved a few days to get the word out a little more, so I didn’t have time to rally the troops for a mega party, but close friends and family did come to the house to watch together. I wasn’t nervous until a few minutes before my part came on. I was a little less natural with a camera in front of my face than I thought I would be, but I think it was great exposure for my shop and all Instagram sellers.

What happened after the show?

I gained over 100 followers in just a few hours after the airing of the segment and lots of traffic on the website, as well. When I see that someone from high school who I haven’t heard from in forever has “liked” one of my posts, something about that feels especially cool to me. Sometimes hearing from old friends or even just acquaintances is the most special kind of support.

Do you see social media sales (Instagram, Facebook, etc.) as a trend or a long term business?

I do see Instagram as a very serious way of shopping. I would venture to say that it is becoming the future of online shopping. I feel like I got into the insta-shop scene at the perfect time because I do feel a bit like one of the “pioneers.” Not to mention that it is my favorite way to shop for myself! I love doing this because I get to create new ideas every day. I practice a lot of trial and error, and I try to be sensitive to how people respond to different things so that I can learn what works.

Which is more fun: to find something great or to find a real bargain?

That’s a hard question, but I don’t think those things are mutually exclusive. I actually think that idea is what has made my shop a success. I am not selling junk at a bargain because it is junk. I spend a lot of time searching high and low for beautiful things with the right price so that I can offer them at a low price. That is where a lot of the value is in what I do, I think – I do the part of the job that no one else has time for – the hunt!

Is it tough not keeping things for yourself?

Sometimes it is SO difficult not to keep things. In fact, I think that speaks to the quality of things I keep in my inventory – if I didn’t want it even a little bit I probably wouldn’t post it. However, this is something I talked about during filming for Nightline that did not make it into the segment. That is, the idea of a “recyclable closet.” Since I have begun selling and shopping this way, it is much easier to let go of things because I don’t keep things in my own closet for very long anymore. I wear it once or twice and then I let it go to make room for something else. It makes my own closet seem more exciting and definitely makes it easier to not get too attached to items that I buy for the shop. Of course, there have been a few items that were different…

You can check out Bethany’s finds on her Bethany’s Style Aisle website here or on Instagram or Facebook. You can watch the full ABC Nightline segment here or the repeat on Good Morning America here.

black dress

Vintage black evening gown

FaLaLa

Tory Burch wedges