By Yvonne McCormack
When Dylan Jahraus met her husband while living in Seattle, WA, she was employed full-time at the e-commerce brand, Zulily. But when she moved to San Diego to be with her husband who is an Executive Submarine Officer in the US Navy, finding an executive job was extremely challenging.
San Diego’s employment opportunities were not as plentiful as other cities because they have fewer major corporations based there. So Dylan had to resort to doing as many odd jobs as possible to make an income. ”I was basically doing all of these side hustles, including walking dogs, house sitting, listing things on Ebay. I was doing everything I could to make money. I even listed something from our wedding on Etsy,” she said. “Then about two months later that one item sold!”
Selling that one item got her motivated and after doing more research, she realized that selling items on the online marketplace platform Etsy could be very profitable. She put her time, effort, and some of the strategies she’d learned from years of working in corporate America into growing her business. Two months later she earned more than $10,000 from her Etsy store. This level of sales and profit continued and actually grew every single month thereafter.
That was the beginning of what is now a full time career selling on Etsy, Amazon, and Shopify. Within six years, she made more than 1.5 million dollars in sales and decided that it was important to help other military spouses do so as well.
As a military wife, she knew how difficult it was for spouses to get and retain jobs. “Military families have to keep moving every six months, year, or two years. As a result, the spouses end up either not getting work, being underemployed, or having to start their career over and over again,” she said.
The situation is so severe that this summer in June 2023, President Biden signed a new Executive Order to boost military spouse employment. In fact, a recent Military Family Lifestyle Survey conducted by Blue Star Families, a nonprofit organization that advocates for the military community, revealed that up to thirty-five percent of military spouses are unemployed, but want employment. Further, one in seven military families reported food insecurity.
And since she was asked repeatedly for advice on how to make a sustainable income as a work from home, online, business owner, she decided to start coaching other military wives on how to create an Etsy shop and how to scale it to multi six figures.
Within months of launching her training program, Dylan taught more than 1200 military wives and other aspiring entrepreneurs how to set up and grow an Etsy store. Since August 2022, coaching has become her main focus. The day-to-day operations of her Etsy Store is now managed by another military wife, Dylan’s first full-time employee.
“Typically, our students are trying to make it big. My coaching and online course are not for people wanting to make an extra $500 a month. There are courses out there for that. My students want to replace their jobs, or make money to invest in real estate or another major investment.”
Dylan says she is dedicated to their success and works very hard to help her students, who can either take a self-study course or work more closely with her with daily coaching. Her combined work ethic and years working in corporate America in e-commerce at retail giants like Zappos uniquely enables her to assist her clients reach their goals.
“We’ve been successful because we work very hard. I have a full team of coaches supporting our students as well. We’ll write to them, take screen shots, create short videos – do everything we can to help them with their specific problems. We always answer their questions within 24 hours.” Dylan says her students come from 30 different countries and range from 14 years old to the late 70’s.
As a wife and mother of two young boys under six years old, the family gets involved. Her husband fully supports her and is part of making everything work. “I want to be the hardest working person in the room. My husband and I are a force. We are not backing down, and this is why we are so successful.”
Dylan says she knows she is lucky in that regard and that many of her students do not have support of friends or loved ones when launching or growing their online business. She says that oftentimes she is their only support system. She has come to understand that coaching others in e-commerce is more than just strategic and technical support, but emotional support as well.
Her joy comes when she sees her students succeed. She cites one student who grew from $696 to over $4000 in revenue in less than two months. “We’re not just providing our students with the knowledge of how to sell on Etsy, we’re providing peace of mind. We’re helping them build a business that will enable them to have another stream of income, own their own business, and a way to support their family if their partner loses their job.
Dylan advises everyone to ask themselves a simple question. “If the next five years looks like the last five years, would you be ok with that? If you want it to look different, you’ll have to take action.”
“Bet on yourself,” she said. “You can accomplish so much more than you think.”