CERTIFIED FASHIONISTA. Flight attendant turned to preloved fashion selling to take control of her time and life amid the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic. (Photo courtesy of Laudale Zabala)

MANILA – Laudale Zabala is a certified fashionista. When the lockdowns were imposed in March, she made it a point to continue getting dressed up as if she were going out for work. For her, putting on a nice outfit is a form of self-care.

Although she couldn't leave her home in Valenzuela City unless, she said gets dolled up to feel and look good. Her looks usually consist of flowy dresses or chiffon tops, hoop earrings, and her smile that radiates energy.

Laudale, 30, is a flight attendant, but she’s currently on leave because of the pandemic. After realizing she had accumulated so many articles of clothing, she decided to sell them online. After all, it wouldn’t be her first time doing it.

“I’ve been an online seller since college. But it was an off and on thing because of my schedule. But this pandemic, I started to focus on doing live selling,” she said in an interview with the Philippine News Agency.

Despite being stuck indoors, Laudale said style could not be compromised, especially since she was selling women’s apparel.

“I believe that imaging is important when you sell. My mom usually reminds me to fix myself to look presentable because it matters. And only during live I really get to fix myself so I go all out,” she added.

While selling items online has been around for the longest time, venturing into livestreaming has been relatively new. Laudale has taken advantage of Facebook Live feature to speak to her potential buyers through witty sales pitches.

“Ito malaki tsaka para kang pupunta sa Baguio, sis…para kang may kaakap (This one’s big and wearing it makes you look like you’re going to Baguio, sis…it feels like a hug),” she would say, describing a cotton long-sleeved blouse.

Laudale Zabala, 30, is ready to get down to business. 

Live selling allows Laudale to showcase her preloved clothing items while conversing with potential customers who, in turn, negotiate prices.

To purchase an item, she said customers simply have to type “mine” or “pa-mine lang po” on the comment section of her livestream, send her a screenshot of the clothing item they want, and send her a private message. She calls most of her customers “sis”, but once they purchase she classifies them as “miners”.

She would then write the item’s negotiated price on masking tape and stick them on to indicate that an item is sold.

“After posting/live, I send the buyers their invoice indicating their total along with where to send their payments and how it’ll be shipped. Then I’ll be waiting for their payment confirmation. I schedule delivery mostly Mondays and Wednesdays so that I can send them out in batch. Then it’ll take at least two to three days for Metro Manila or three to seven days for provincial for the parcel to arrive,” she said.

HOLIDAY CHEER. Nothing spells Christmas like festive tops. (Photos from Laudale Zabala)

A lot of preloved clothes can be almost brand-new, but others might need stitching or extra buttons. But what happens when people complain about clothing items and want to return them?

“I indicate the ‘No Return, No Exchange’ rule in my posts every time. Since I sell preloved clothes, they know how to keep their expectations in check. But in some cases, I come to terms where we end up in a win-win situation, she said.

The secret to her success is how she values her customers. Every once and a while, Laudale would include gifts to "top miners" who purchase clothes from her store.

Gifts could be bags, wristlets, or even a vanity mirror with LED lights. It's a small gesture, but it can mean a lot to loyal or repeat buyers.

Mannequins and models

It’s no secret that Laudale sometimes wears some of her clothes to show potential buyers what they look like, but to save time and effort she displays the outfits on a headless mannequin.

“I have an old mannequin that I’ve had for 10 years already. The new one I bought around two months ago,” she said.

Selling live is no easy task. Laudale spends three to four hours talking, standing, putting on clothes on the mannequin and taking them off again. Lucky for her, time flies when she’s having fun.

According to Laudale, her experience as a flight attendant has helped sharpen her communication skills to some extent. But it’s really the experience of selling that gets her on a high.

“I really like being in front of the camera!” she said, chuckling. “I think [being a flight attendant] does help me. But selling is really what I like doing maybe that’s why I’m comfortable because I’m in my zone.”

IT'S A WRAP. Laudale's preloved clothes are all wrapped up and ready to be shipped! (Photos from Laudale Zabala)

Every time she goes live, Laudale said she fully enjoys the opportunity to show off her preloved clothes while at the same time generating sales.

She said she would usually go live once or twice a week and post photos of items to be sold days prior.

“By God’s grace, I usually sell everything I have for the day,” she said.

Laudale herself loves shopping, but growing older made her realize that she could score fashionable clothes for so much less.

"I really love clothes but I'm not willing to spend so much. I'm a thrifter myself. Before I returned to online selling, I would go for plain shirts and pants. Now that I see too many dresses, I’m choose to draw back and say no," she said.

Because she loves online selling so much, she said she plans to continue doing it even when the current situation improves, maybe even do it full-time.

Laudale’s online shop “Tindalera” can be found at https://www.facebook.com/kickass.shop. Prices of pre-loved items start at as low as PHP80. (PNA)