The teens with very grown-up turnovers

The Daily Telegraph - Your Money - - FRONT PAGE -

Etsy and eBay are for the mid­dle-aged, so teenagers are find­ing other ways to make money on­line. By Amelia Mur­ray

En­ter­pris­ing chil­dren and teenagers have dis­cov­ered they can boost their pocket money by thou­sands of pounds sell­ing items on­line – with­out the in­ter­fer­ence of their par­ents. Since the e-com­merce boom in the mid-to-late Nineties, on­line mar­ket­places, such as eBay and Ama­zon, have given mil­lions the where­withal to boost their in­come by sell­ing their used, un­wanted or home­made goods. But these sites were for those aged 18 or older.

Now the trend is grip­ping a an­other gen­er­a­tion of part-time traders: school­go­ing teens. And a new wave of trad­ing sites has leapt up to cater for them.

De­pop, a mo­bile shop­ping app that launched in 2012, has given chil­dren their own trad­ing plat­form. The min­i­mum sign-up age is 14, although Katie Mor­timer (pic­tured) man­aged to open an ac­count the month be­fore her 14th birth­day al­most three years ago.

The phone-based trad­ing site has more than seven mil­lion users world­wide. One in seven is un­der the age of 16. By con­trast, the av­er­age seller on Etsy, the on­line mar­ket­place for hand­crafted and vin­tage goods, is 38-years-old.

De­pop will not re­veal how much its av­er­age seller makes. But it has said that its big­gest busi­nesses take in rev­enues of as much as £30,000 – and that’s per month.

It is three years since Katie Mor­timer, now 17, turned to the in­ter­net to sell her un­wanted jew­ellery. She hasn’t looked back. Since then she has sold £40,000 worth of ac­ces­sories, clothes, bed­ding and sta­tionery bought from Chi­nese whole­salers and sold mainly to girls her age at prices marked up by as much as 250pc.

Katie be­lieves in the time she has been sell­ing her prof­its are in the or­der of £31,000. She was al­ready re­ceiv­ing £25 a month in pocket money when she started. This formed the seed cap­i­tal of her ven­ture.

Among her first pur­chases were phone cases and clothes from a Chi­nese whole­saler. Katie, who spends about one to three hours per day on her ac­tiv­i­ties, which in­clude pro­cess­ing sales, or­der­ing stock and up­load­ing pic­tures of the items on to the De­pop app, said she can buy T-shirts and vests for £3 and sell them on the app for £10.50. Phone cases cost her 50p to £1 from the sup­plier, which she then prices at £5 or £6.

She said: “I de­cide how much to sell the item for by think­ing how much I would pay – and how much I think other peo­ple would pay for it. I then check that I’m mak­ing a de­cent profit.”

She has been stung only once, when she over­stocked and bought too many iPhone 4 cases. New phone mod­els emerged soon af­ter and she found that no one had the old phones any­more so did not want the cases I think I’ve still got about 100 iPhone 4 cases, which I don’t think I’m ever go­ing to shift,” she said.

Katie, who says she has “al­ways loved sav­ing”, wants to have enough money to buy a car – a Fiat 500 – by the time she’s old enough to drive. She ploughs most of the profit back into the busi­ness, us­ing it to pur­chase more stock. Last Au­gust, she con­trib­uted £8,000 to the con­struc­tion of a £30,000 of­fice space in the fam­ily’s gar­den. This is where she stores her stock and pro­cesses or­ders.

Sis­ters Bo and Eve Brear­ley, from Lon­don, have man­aged to make a full-time liv­ing sell­ing clothes to teenage girls.

When, four years ago, Bo left home to study ar­chi­tec­ture at Glas­gow Uni­ver­sity, Eve, who was 15 at the time, be­gan sell­ing her sis­ter’s clothes on­line. Bo, who is now 22, had no idea.

She said: “I came back af­ter the first term and saw my wardrobe had been ran­sacked. I was fu­ri­ous. But when she told me she’d give me £500, half the prof­its she’d made, I started think­ing about it dif­fer­ently.”

The sis­ters then started buy­ing up clothes in char­ity shops and car-boot sales and be­gan list­ing their items on De­pop.

On a hol­i­day to Italy, they dis­cov­ered they could buy gar­ments for much cheaper at “rag trade” mar­kets – where un­sold items from char­ity shops end up.

Once ev­ery two months, Bo flies to Italy and stays for around a week to hand­pick up to 80kg of clothes at these mar­kets. She spends €1 (90p) to €5 (£4.50) on each gar­ment and says she uses “com­mon sense” when

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