WITH the cost of living rising and many of us finding our wallets are slightly less heavy than before, more and more people are looking for alternative ways to earn a living.

While lots of us slog away at our 9-5 office jobs, one 35-year-old mum has proved that the eight-hour day is not the only route to success.

In 2011, Tori Gerbig was earning just £21,000 a year in her insurance job.

But when she wasn’t working or spending time with her family, you could find her shopping online.

She was just 24-years-old and loved browsing the internet for clothes that were both on-trend and affordable, but she found that there weren’t too many options to choose from.

This gave her the idea to start a side hustle selling women’s clothing on eBay.

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At first, it was just a fun hobby and little did Tori know that 10 years later, she and her husband Chris would be running Pink Lily full-time. 

Last year, their online clothing business generated a whopping £121 million in gross sales and they have grown their social media audience to 3.6 million followers.

To start her eBay store, Tori and Chris made an initial investment of just £250 to buy clothes and accessories from a wholesale website.

Tori revealed that she wasn’t familiar with pricing strategies, so priced items at what she would pay as a customer. 

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She told CNBC: “We worked out of our living room, so we didn’t have much overhead to worry about except for shipping costs.

“Profits varied during the first few years, but we typically made anywhere from $300 [£256] to $1,000 [£856] per month. 

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“We used that money to pay off student loans and invest back into the business.

“Two years later, in 2013, I started a personal Facebook group to market my clothes. 

“We had loyal customers who showed an increasing demand for our products, especially in our local community in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

“By the end of the year, we had saved around $20,000 [£17,124] from our profits, which we used to launch Pink Lily’s official website. That’s when business really began booming.”

By May 2014, the couple surpassed £85,000 in monthly revenue and after three years of running Pink Lily as a side hustle, Tori quit her insurance job to work on the business full-time. 

Chris joined her a few months later to oversee the company’s finances and operations and they finished the year with more than £3million in revenue.

In 2019, after achieving over £60million in total sales, the couple received a minority stake investment to support the business’ rapid growth, which helped them expand their product offerings and scale an amazing team.

Tori continued: “Currently, we sell more than 11,000 products on our site every day, have a brick-and-mortar store and, with 250 full-time employees, are one of the biggest employers in Bowling Green.” 

If you are thinking about starting your own side hustle, Tori has some top tips for you.

Tori explained: "It’s so important to find a gap in the existing market.

"When I started my side hustle, I saw an unmet need for fashion-inclined women who wanted to be able to find a dress for $50 [£42]or less. I knew I could help to fill that need in my own small way.

"If you want growth to happen quickly, you need to reinvest all or most of your early profits back into the business.

"Being active on social media has been a key part of our success. 

"I always encourage entrepreneurs to carefully consider how they can design a brand ambassador program that resonates with their customers.

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"At Pink Lily, our program offers paid positions — with a 10% commission offered on every sale — to an exclusive group of long-time customers who can authentically vouch for the products.

"This is an important, sustainable part of our marketing strategy, and generated about $7.5 million in sales last year."

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