A friend of mine recently had a situation come up with a shop that we both worked with.  The shop owner saw that my friend was trying to sell an item in a B/S/T (Buy/Sell/Trade) group.  The shop owner messaged my friend and asked her to remove it and to send it back to her instead.  My friend messaged me to get my opinion on this because it seemed strange to her since she had provided the shop with images and promotion in exchange for the item.  I absolutely agreed.

Shortly after, I was messaged by the same shop owner, in a group DM and told that she didn’t want any of us selling any of her items that were given to us. She asked us to either donate them or send them back to her, so she could give them to her family members.  I was shocked.  Immediately I thought… I earned these items.  I worked hard to style, take pics, edit pics and promote the shop as often as possible. I know for a fact that I brought new customers to the shop because a couple of them were now on her team.  So apparently now, I’m supposed to ship the items back since I was finished with them?  Wasn’t this a trade for services? Weren’t these items my items to do with as I wish? Do I need permission to sell my rep items?

After some back and forth with the shop, I decided to ask what other reps and shops thought about this subject, in one of the Facebook Groups I am in.  It didn’t come as a surprise that the majority of comments (99.95%), from both shop owners and reps, were the same…. if you fulfilled your responsibilities as a brand rep, then that item is yours.

I specifically loved that the shop owner presence in that post was so strong.  One of the ones that stood out to me was Lucy, the owner of Babalus by Lucy.

“I have pretty strong opinions when it comes to having someone ‘rep’ for your brand. I have never done a rep search in the traditional sense, and I am personally completely against ever charging for my product at a discount in exchange for pictures. I reach out to moms that I find through social media, and approach them about trading clothes for photos. As a small shop, I could never have reached the levels of success that I have without the amazing photographs I have received, and continue to receive. I believe that to trade clothes for pics is the very least I can do for the amount that I benefit from their time and pictures. I don’t send product based on their personal style, I send products that I need photographed period. My brand has some very fun and colorful prints, so I know that not everyone will like every design. I am in no way offended, and actually encourage them to resell the items that I send them to turn it into $ for their families. I can’t say enough about the impacts that so many hard working mamas have had on both me personally and my shop, their support and encouragement keep me going and inspires me to create more.” – Lucy Conroy, owner Babalus by Lucy (IG: @babalusbylucy)

I love how much Lucy appreciates her team.  She wants those hard working Mamas to turn her items into money for their families, as a thank you for their hard work.  Could there be a better thank you? Reps don’t get paid (at least the majority of us).  We are doing all of this out of the goodness of our hearts. In order to keep buying from small shops and to avoid having to buy a storage unit to house all of our small shop goods, we tend to have to sell the things we’ve outgrown to make room and money for new items.  I would say 75% of that money made is put right back into small shops. If money’s tight, we may use a bit to pay a bill, but that’s ok, isn’t it?!  After all, brand repping is a trade. You should be able to do whatever you wish with the items you receive, as long as you’ve held up your end of the agreement with that shop. They are yours. You worked for them.

The majority of small shops understand that they wouldn’t have a business if it wasn’t for their rep team.  Reps and Enthusiasts work hard!  They are promoting small shops and bringing in business, new traffic to their website, and new followers to their social media.  A great brand rep is actually the most inexpensive but most effective form of marketing for a small shop!  No shop should take that for granted.

The best part about B/S/T groups is that people can purchase small shop items at a much lower cost. It’s a great way to try out a new shop and see if you like the quality, before paying full price on their website.  The majority of buyers will also take pictures and tag the shop, giving the shop extra exposure and new faces to repost.  All around, I think it’s a win, win for everyone!

Fellow rep, Amber (IG @magnoliasunflower) said it best, “The items aren’t ‘free’. It’s technically payment for services. An employer wouldn’t try to dictate what you do with your paycheck, right? Once you do the work and get paid, you can do whatever you want with your earnings.”

I couldn’t agree with Amber more! What a great analogy.

The only downside to B/S/T that I have heard from both reps and shops, was reps selling the items for more than retail cost or selling it immediately after they’ve taken pictures of it. I understand that and completely agree. I  know of a couple of rep accounts that take pictures of 3-5 outfits a day and immediately put those items up in a B/S/T group.  Small shop support is not a 15 minute job.  Wearing those clothes out in public, around your friends and family is the best way to get the word out about the shops.  Carry small shop cards with you, write down the name of the website for them… support shouldn’t stop on social media.  Plus, as some shops mention, occasionally they will need the item reshot.  What if you don’t have that item anymore because you sold it so quickly?  The majority of shop owners are ok with you selling the items, as long as you wait until your term is over (just in case). A more than reasonable request, if you ask me.

At the end of the day, it’s up to the shop to decide what they want from their team.  If you don’t agree with it, politely decline any position and find shops that have the same mindset as you do.  But… I would hope that shops understand that most reps are not doing this to make any sort of profit, but rather doing it so that they can keep supporting small shops without having to take out a 2nd mortgage on their home.  After all, brand repping is all about supporting one another.

In case you’re looking, my favorite B/S/T group is: Insta-Style Baby & Mama BST.

What do you think about this subject? Comment below and let me know your thoughts!  Have a topic you want me to talk about? Email us! Make sure to follow our daily small shop fashion on Instagram @thesmallfashionista and on our new Facebook page.