Four years ago, I was searching for something meaningful to do with my life. I had been a stay-at-home mom for 12 years and with my kids getting older and more independent, I had a lot of extra time on my hands.
Around the same time, the economic downturn was taking its toll and making life more stressful for everyone. It was the perfect time for a change. There was just one problem—I had no idea what I wanted to do.
Then I heard about a class in import-export tailored to people from the U.S which was set to take place in Ecuador.
I had always loved travel and had even worked for American Airlines and as a travel agent prior to having kids. The import-export idea just made everything click. So, I waved goodbye to my husband and two kids and headed to the airport.
I must admit that I didn’t really understand exactly what I was getting myself in to.
I knew the basics…importing means bringing items from one country in to another and exporting, conversely, involves sending products from one country back to another. Mostly I was just eager for an adventure, and I was taking a leap of faith.
At the time, I had no idea how profitable it can be— and how much fun it is.
What other opportunity allows you to make money while shopping and traveling? At the very least, I figured I could pay for my trip.
Upon arriving in Ecuador, we went to the little village of Cotacachi. Within 15 minutes I knew my life had changed forever. I couldn’t get enough of the buttery, handcrafted leather handbags, weekend totes, boots, and wallets. I even designed a gorgeous cowhide and leather laptop bag, and a local artisan produced it.
Shopping…traveling…exploring—and getting paid to do it. This was the life for me.
It was so much fun to meet the artisans and watch them at work. Most families have been creating these goods for generations, and their expertise are apparent in the top-quality goods they produce.
Over the next few days, I snapped up fluffy alpaca scarves and blankets, sterling silver jewelry, elegant woven wraps and ponchos, embroidered hand-towels, handmade bracelets, and even ornaments crafted from bread dough.
It is not an exaggeration to say that over the course of the week my hotel room took on the look of a department store stock room. In fact, I had to buy a brand-new leather suitcase just to get these beautiful goods home to North Carolina!
Once home, I threw a party to share my new finds with friends and family. It quickly became apparent that I wasn’t the only one who appreciated the amazing quality and craftsmanship of the goods. I sold my entire inventory—and a businesswoman was born.
The items I brought home paid for that first trip—and for many trips thereafter. I continue to travel to Ecuador, seeking out new finds—packing them up and sharing them back home. I have had great fun hosting home parties and participating in community shows. The merchandise flies off the shelves because it’s beautiful, unique, and no one else has it.
When I decided to take the class, I never dreamed where it would lead. I certainly didn’t know that I would end up importing regularly, teaching others how to do it, leading buying trips to Ecuador and launching a retail website.
Looking back, I can’t believe my good fortune. With no experience and very minimal investment, I have created a profitable business…and I am having the time of my life.
Editor’s Note: If you’d like to learn more about ways you can pay for your life or travels overseas, including import-export, sign up for Fund Your Life Overseas, a free e-letter from International Living. Sign up here and we’ll send you a free report: Fund Your New Life Overseas With These 5 Portable Careers.