Follow for more talkers

Lifestyle

This upcycling expert makes up to $4k a month turning trash into treasure

"It's pretty low-risk high reward if you can make it work."

Avatar photo

Published

on

By Jake Meeus-Jones via SWNS

Meet the woman turning trash into treasure and making up to $4k a month - by upcycling thrown-out furniture.

Cameron Gallegos, 23, quit her corporate job to start 'flipping' discarded furniture full-time - and now makes between $3,000 and $4,000 (£3,365) a month.

She says she had always been good at upcycling - so decided to take the plunge full-time nearly two years ago and she hasn't looked back.

The savvy seller makes use of 'Bulk Trash Days' in Austin, Texas, US - when local government officials go to a different neighbourhood in the city every weekend and collect unwanted furniture.

Cameron turns up with her own truck and spends her weekends scooping up any free furniture left in front gardens and driveways.

She looks for items with the potential to be upcycled and sold on for a profit and also uses Facebook Marketplace to find any free gems.

Cameron usually spends a few days on each piece in her garage - giving it a new lease of life before selling it on Facebook Marketplace for a profit.

With her biggest outgoing cost being petrol $300, Cameron spends no more than $200 a month on materials and supplies.

Cameron, from Austin, Texas, US, said: "I get a weird adrenaline rush out of it. I just get so excited when I see a piece of someone else's junk.

"I quit my corporate job as a Subsidiary HR Manager for an Engineering Company and started flipping furniture full-time two years ago. I just really went for it.

"I realized I was doing it all the time anyway so I just thought I should give it my all.

"There was more pressure, but it was good pressure. I felt in charge of my own destiny. Scary but worth it.

"It's pretty low-risk high reward if you can make it work. I'm making three to four grand a month through selling. I'd love to try and grow that.

"I'm only spending around $200 a month on paint and tools which I buy from hardware stores, but my biggest outgoing cost is petrol which usually costs $300 a month."

Cameron goes to a different neighbourhood every week in an effort to find her next big project.

"I'm really fortunate enough to have the 'Bulk Trash Day' where I live. I source most of my pieces through that. I think Austin is kind of famous for it," she said.

"People throw away everything - fridges, sofas, cupboards.

"So I find these neighbourhoods and go and find these pieces and a lot of them are still in normal working order.

"The second thing I do is use Facebook Marketplace - there's lots of free stuff on there.

"I’m never without a piece of furniture. Sometimes I will find a perfectly fine piece and sell it as it is.

(Screenshot via Dailymotion)

"For example, if it’s a table and chairs I'll just sell it for $200 to $300, and it goes. I don't even need to touch it.

"Everyone needs furniture."

After finding her latest pieces, Cameron takes them home and gets to work on bringing them back to life.

She said: "I'm in the garage two or three times a week - working on pieces.

"The painting, layers, priming. It takes a good day to really dedicate that to a piece.

"I'm getting into more of a floral transfer which really adds a different element to my pieces now.

"I'm getting more into the artistic side of furniture now - not just the paint job.

"I like to describe my pieces as quirky. They usually have a bit of colour and I think that’s why they sell."

Cameron told how she once found a table to accompany a rare set of chairs she got her hands on just days earlier.

"I found these chairs on Facebook Marketplace about an hour away," she said.

"They were these amazingly rare Marcel Breuer chairs - damaged but completely free.

"I knew I could replace the cane on the back, but I didn’t know how to do it. But I quickly decided that I was going to learn.

"The girl selling them said she had so many people asking about them, so I was really glad I managed to get them.

"Each chair once fixed can be worth up to $700 or $800.

"So I got them, fixed them and then right down the road from me a neighbour was getting rid of a one-of-a-kind granite table.

"That stone can be worth up to $10k.

"So I put the two pieces together. The pictures were amazing.

"I listed for $1,500 as a set which is cheaper but you’re never going to get the really big bucks.

"However, I decided to keep them in the end."

She added: "I go to Goodwills as well to find items.

"Once I've transformed them, I take pictures and list them.

"I have such an attachment to each piece because so much heart and effort goes into it."

Cameron's dream piece that she's yet to find is a curved vintage couch.

"I'm really in love with vintage couches and chairs. I'd love one of the curved ones. They're really trendy," she said.

"The beauty of it is you don’t know what you're going to find.

"But the weird thing is, every time I've wanted to find something, I've found it.

"I feel like I can't go back to corporate because I love this so much that I have to make this work.

"It's so passion-driven. I just love bringing old things to life again."

Stories and infographics by ‘Talker Research’ are available to download & ready to use. Stories and videos by ‘Talker News’ are managed by SWNS. To license content for editorial or commercial use and to see the full scope of SWNS content, please email [email protected] or submit an inquiry via our contact form.

Top Talkers