This 27-Year-Old Started a Side Hustle on Facebook Marketplace — Now the Gig Earns Over $500,000 a Month

This Side Hustle Spotlight Q&A features 27-year-old Valentina Zapata, a Las Vegas-based entrepreneur behind The Shoe Game Co. Zapata’s side hustle turned full-time gig reselling sneakers sees more than $500,000 revenue a month. Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

What was your day job (or other sources of income) when you started your side hustle?
I was a life insurance broker.

When did you start your side hustle, and where did you find the inspiration for it?
It was the post-pandemic era; my girlfriend actually encouraged me to pick it back up as something positive to do on the side.

Related: This Former Flight Attendant and Her Roommate Started a Side Hustle With Just $2,000 Each. Then It Earned Them Nearly $600,000 — and Counting.

What were some of the first steps you took to get your side hustle off the ground?
We started with Instagram, then we went to Facebook Marketplace and drove almost an hour for our first “flip.” And we just kept rinsing and repeating.

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced while building your side hustle, and how did you navigate them?
Learning what not to buy — what sits — and that all “good deals” are not all good deals. And the biggest lesson we learned early on: spotting fakes! This cost us the most money; however, we watched videos, learned, took the Ls on the chin and kept pushing. Lastly, as resellers, we’re always struggling with sitting inventory. This was something we wanted to solve — how could we sell and sell fast?

Related: She Grew Her Side Hustle Sales From $0 to Over $6 Million in Just 6 Months — and an ‘Old-School’ Mindset Helped Her Do It

How long did it take you to see consistent monthly revenue? How much did the side hustle earn?
We saw consistent income at $7,000 a month, but it wasn’t until we got on the live-selling platform Whatnot that things exploded for us. That’s when we shifted our operation to full-time.

When and why did you decide to take the side hustle full-time? What does growth and revenue look like now?
We decided to take this side hustle full-time within two months of being on Whatnot. We saw the reach and community, and more importantly, we knew the sneaker category on Whatnot was relatively new, just as live-selling was, and we didn’t want to miss it. We’re doing over $500,000 a month in revenue — and just signed and moved into our new 6,000-square-foot warehouse. We now have seven employees in less than two years and have no plans to slow down.

Related: ‘The Work Just Fills My Soul’: She Turned Her Creative Side Hustle Into a 6-Figure ‘Dream’ Business

What do you enjoy most about running this business?
I love seeing the team grow and their lives change around me as we work hard, and it pays off. In addition to our team winning, our community is so beautiful — it’s so much more than just selling.

What’s your advice for others hoping to start successful side hustles or businesses of their own?
Build and drive community — everything else will follow. The only way to stand out in a digital era is building a strong brand reach.

This article is part of our ongoing Young Entrepreneur® series highlighting the stories, challenges and triumphs of being a young business owner.

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