How TikTok helped a clothing reseller quit her job to work full time on her digital thrift store and how much she earns from brand deals with 200,000 followers

  • Symphony Clarke, 25, started her TikTok in March and quickly gained hundreds of thousands of followers. 
  • Her first TikTok, where she revamps a thrifted hoodie into a two-piece cropped-top and shorts set, has received millions of views.
  • Since then, she's quit her full-time job in retail and has pivoted to building her own digital thrift store and working with brands on sponsored content. 
  • Business Insider spoke with Clarke about how she turned her hobby of thrifting into a career, and how much she's currently charging brands for sponsored content on TikTok and Instagram.
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This is the latest installment of Business Insider's TikTok money logs, where creators break down how much they earn.

Symphony Clarke, 25, remembers the first day she walked into a thrift store.

"I think it was a Value Village, where the prices were between 99 cents and $5," she told Business Insider. "That's when I was like, man, I love this place. I don't think I'll ever shop retail ever again."

Clarke had been thrifting as a hobby for several years, and had started revamping and selling the clothes she'd find, when in March, she was furloughed from her retail job due to the pandemic. She saw being furloughed as a chance to really focus on her side project.

"This was my one chance to be as creative as possible," Clarke said. 

And when she found TikTok, her side hustle began to take off. Clarke's first TikTok post was a video of her turning a hoodie she bought from a thrift store into a two-piece cropped-hoodie and shorts set. It was an instant hit and the two-part TikTok she posted in March gained over 5 million views.

Thrifting on TikTok is a popular topic, and the hashtags #thrift, #thrifted, and #thriftshop each have billions of views on the app.

Since that initial viral video, Clarke has continued to post on TikTok and now has over 200,000 followers. She regularly posts thrifting hauls, tips, and DIY tutorials. 

"I never really expected it to become this big," Clarke said. But Clarke has built a whole career out of it. She earns money from brand sponsorships and also by selling clothing and thrift flips on her own digital thrift store, "Shop Thrift Guru" (which is powered by Big Cartel), and through the reselling app Depop.

And when her former job brought her back from her furlough, she quit shortly after, realizing she wanted to pursue this new career path instead.

Here’s a quick thrift tip Pt. 1! 🙌🏾🔥🤞🏾 ##learnontiktok ##tiktokpartner ##fyp ##thrifthaul ##thrifttips##thriftflip

Clarke's main focus is her digital thrift store, but working with brands on sponsorships has allowed her to support herself financially and fuel her growing business. 

"Running a business requires you to put a lot of money back into the business," she said. 

Typically, she spends between $200 and $250 each week buying new items from thrift stores and estate sales, she said. And this also takes up time, anywhere from three to four days a week. After that, she washes everything and decides which items she will alter and resell.

Her brand deals help fund this, she said.

By May, Clarke's TikTok had over 100,000 followers and soon after, brands — specifically secondhand clothing and affordable fashion companies — had started reaching out to her about sponsorships, she said.

Two of her early brand partnerships were with Lovely Wholesale (an affordable, wholesale clothing outlet) and Poshmark (a popular clothing resale app). She also worked with a detergent brand on a TikTok ad.

Clarke said that she has started pitching herself to brands (in addition to fielding inbound offers) and has worked on establishing rates for her content on both TikTok and Instagram (where she has about 26,000 followers). 

Here are her rates for sponsored content:

  • TikTok videos: $350 to $600
  • Instagram in-feed post: $400
  • Instagram in-feed post with Story slides: $600 to $700

Business Insider verified these rates with documentation of emails between Clarke and brands.

Clarke said she uses these rates as a starting point for negotiations.  

Clarke reaches out to brands by either emailing the company directly or by finding the specific employees who handle marketing and social media. In those pitches, she outlines her audience, a few key statistics and metrics, and what she can do for the company — highlighting her unique focus on thrifting. 

"Even if you send 20 out, and only two people respond back to you, that's still two deals," she said. 

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