Local College Student Using eCommerce to Pay for School
By Space Coast Daily // July 15, 2019
As the cost of college continues to rise, students are forced to rethink how they will cover the expense. In the case of Aixangela Caballero, an idea to raise money dawned on her during a birthday visit to Orlando’s Disney World in 2017.
The then University of Central Florida Sophomore saw the prices of gift items sold at the resort and decided that she could make similar Disney-themed accessories and sell them online.
Based on reports, Ms. Caballero sells her Disney-themed creations for $17 to $20. Though that only tells part of the story.
For her customers, it is not only a chance to purchase a high-quality, handmade Disney-themed item, but there is also the opportunity to support a student as she tried to complete her education.
On average the headbands and other items take roughly 45 minutes to complete and most of the materials can be found at local craft stores.
In fact, the most complicated design Ms. Caballero has created to date took only slightly longer and this was due to having to place each flower and pearl separately.
Why the Disney connection? Ms. Caballero is a massive fan of characters such as The Little Mermaid, Pocahontas, The Lion King, and Winnie the Pooh.
In fact, the richness and cuteness of the Disney catalog provide so much inspiration that Ms. Caballero never has to worry about new design ideas.
While Disney can be ruthless in protecting its intellectual property, craft designs made by and available for sale by fans have become extremely popular on sites such as Etsy and Instagram. As such, the company has tended to look the other way – at least for now.
This is largely due to the fact that many of these designs help to keep up fan interest in Disney properties and some cases even use Disney branded items as core elements in the creation process.
But there is always the risk that the company might decide to crack down on items which it believes impact its property rights.
The key for fans selling their designs online is to walk a thin line between fandom and becoming a target of the corporate giant. Even though Ms. Caballero has found success – recently selling 18 pair of ears to a local church group – it’s unclear whether her business would fall into a category where Disney would choose to act.
That being said, the optics of targeting a student who has turned her passion for Disney and crafts into an opportunity to help pay for college might not be something which the operators of the “Happiest Place on Earth” may want to be associated with.
Either way, the trend of selling handmade Disney items online points to how business in Florida is evolving. Mainly the fact that selling on Etsy has become increasingly popular in the state.
In fact, a recent study commissioned by the e-commerce site noted that the state is one of the top three locations for sellers in the U.S. – along with Texas and California.
What is it about Florida which makes the state a popular location for online sellers? The answer is somewhat complicated, especially as the state requires sellers to get a permit for their online business.
Though low taxes and good logistics links might be part of the reason why it is so popular. In addition, the state has yet to put in place what is often called an “Amazon Law.”
This law would require internet sellers to collect and pay sales tax. When it comes to Etsy, many of the sellers are small businesses or sole proprietors; as such the absence of online sales tax helps these budding entrepreneurs get off the ground.
In addition, the state’s legion of retirees has long proved a fertile ground for pickers. These are treasure hunters – many of whom pick through estates to find hidden items which can garner demand from buyers across the country.
Prior to the days of e-commerce, these items would have to be distributed through a network of antique and vintage retailers, such as the Indian River Antique Mall.
However, selling via sites such as Etsy have allowed local pickers an avenue to offer their items direct to consumers across the country and beyond.
For college students, craft makers, or pickers, one thing is true using e-commerce to develop sales can help to raise money for all of life’s expenses. Who knows, some of these hobbies, such as Ms. Caballero’s might even develop into full-fledged businesses down the line.
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