Meet Dr. Marcella Wilson. Ph.D. in computer science. Professor. NASA alumna. Amazon seller. Mother. And now – a proud seller of Mexico-sourced products.
In a nutshell, Marcella is a humble, big-hearted, beautiful soul, with a sense of purpose and determination that’s rare to find. Her journey, although rough, has never sharpened her edges; despite the rigors that led her to join us in Mexico City last June.
In a special Thanksgiving feature, we cover a little of Marcella’s sourcing story – and the attitude of gratitude that buoys her when the going gets tough.
The short version of Marcella’s journey is condensed into one word: motherhood. Marcella has 3 children, and despite a glowing career and evident giftedness, she has eschewed the corporate world for the stay-at-home mompreneur life of an Amazon seller. Here’s how it all went down:
Marcella got her Ph.D. in computer science almost by accident – she enrolled in courses so she could find a job as a receptionist.
Marcella smiles about those early days. “I mistakenly signed up for a complete computer programming course, and I got an A. I took part 2 of the course. I got another A. The professor said, ‘What are you doing? You’re not a computer science major, but you’re getting better grades than computer science majors!”
She wound up doing internships at NASA, who saw her prowess and sponsored her Ph.D. But good things come in threes, right? She got her Ph.D., got married, and had a daughter and a pair of twins. Marcella woke up, took a look at her life, and decided that she didn’t want to miss out on any of the milestones her children went through. She had “three under three,” as the saying goes, with an illustrious – and demanding – job at NASA. Marcella decided that she wanted to be there with her kids. She wanted to stay home with the babies. But, money was still a problem.
Here’s where the story will start to get very familiar for a lot of Amazon entrepreneurs out there, “I was constantly scanning for what kind of opportunities to help me make money, so I could work from home. I heard about Amazon.”
Marcella happened upon Amazon selling for the same reason many entrepreneurs – dare we say, mothers, especially – discover Amazon. She chose her kids. She knew in her heart and soul that a Ph.D. and a noteworthy career couldn’t hold water to her 3 babies. Marcella wanted to be present for every diaper change, every new tooth, every scraped knee, and every report card.
It was a decision that benefited her greatly in the months that followed.
“I heard about private label. I heard about getting stuff from China and shipping it. At that time I was like, oooh, that’s too much.”
Indubitably, someone coming into Amazon FBA with a blank slate would find private label overwhelming. Many gurus will promise people like Marcella that they’ll make ROI in a matter of months; that’s just not true. Selling on Amazon takes real elbow grease, as Marcella eventually discovered.
Given Marcella lived down the street from a huge Walmart, she first got into retail arbitrage. “It sounded kind of fun,” she shares. “I like to bargain shop and things like that.”
Yet, she discovered the downside of retail arbitrage: “You always have to be in the stores, right? Or scanning online. And to me, that was unsustainable, because I still had little kids.”
This is where Marcella’s attitude of gratitude kicks in. She doesn’t regret that experience with retail arbitrage. “It was a good start for me to get my feet wet with Amazon, to learn basically how it works.”
Next step for Marcella? Why, wholesale, of course. But it became clear that that wasn’t for her, either.
That’s when she thought, perhaps now I’m ready for private label. And she did what anyone in her position would do – she got onto YouTube and tried to learn that way. And If you’ve ever tried to mine YouTube for the how-to’s of selling on Amazon, you’ll know what a losing proposition that is.
We couldn’t say it better ourselves: “The information isn’t always legit, or it’s old, or it’s not accurate.”
That free YouTube university cost Marcella more money. “I made every mistake in the book,” she assures us. “I sourced a product that was banned from Amazon. Then I spent all this money on 2000 units (without a market test), and there were like 100 other people selling the exact same thing. A lot of them are still sitting in my garage to this day.”
But Marcella refused to throw in the towel. Remember, she was choosing motherhood. She had her eyes firmly on the prize – a life where she was earning a decent income from the comforts of home, able to witness all the milestones that her children went through. She refused to give up, but where were the solutions to her problem? How could she hack this Amazon private label business?
“It’s Not a Mistake if You Learn From It.”
At this point, despite all the setbacks Marcella had faced, she’d fallen in love with Amazon. “But I knew that I had to figure out my way, and I couldn’t keep going on my own, because I’m not doing it right.”
Simultaneously, Marcella had gone back to working full-time. Her daughters were a little bigger. But her goal was still the same – to stay at home and witness every moment in her children’s lives.
That’s when Marcella bumped paths with Tim Jordan. She happened across one of Tim’s videos on product sourcing. She started implementing some of the tips he recommended in the video – and to her delight, she started to have some success. Not enough to leave her full-time job, but her product was getting consistent sales.
“For me, that was a big deal, because nothing else had worked.” Marcella started to follow Tim; finally, she’d found someone whose tips actually resulted in a positive outcome.
That’s when Marcella’s husband gifted her with a training program on amazing.com. How excited Marcella was; finally, she’d crack the Amazon code (apropos considering the subject matter of her Ph.D.). Marcella can now fulfill her dream of staying at home with her girls while earning enough money to afford her lifestyle.
They Come in Threes
That’s when disappointments came a-knockin’ – which would have floored a weaker person.
In December 2019, Marcella placed her first order. Right before the pandemic hit. Her supplier messaged her that they were shutting down. Also, she couldn’t ship in her products because Amazon was prioritizing products that were related to the pandemic. Marcella’s first foray into sourcing a product – and she was hit with the massive disappointment that was the pandemic.
Shortly thereafter, tragedy struck. Marcella’s mother passed away. At that time, there were a lot of riots in Philadelphia, where Marcella’s parents lived. Marcella relives the trauma of her mother’s passing with honesty and strength: “She went into the hospital, she had to go by herself. No one could come with her because of the pandemic.” For weeks, her mother stayed in the hospital alone, and passed away alone.
To add salt to an open wound, the funeral home said only 5 people could come to the funeral – after a month – because of the compound effect of a pandemic with the rioting in Philadelphia. You can just imagine how that affected Marcella.
She reflects on her mother: “My mom taught me, and my brother, and my sister – you work. You survive.”
Marcella paused at that moment in her life. Her mother’s death – compounded by the pandemic – really forced her to evaluate her own value system. “I’d worked really hard, you know…surviving,” she says, thoughtfully. “But the pandemic kind of made everyone think a little bit differently about their life, right? I was tired of surviving.”
“I wanted to thrive. What about the joy? I wanted to have joy, and love what I wanted to do.”
Marcella’s mother’s passing, while traumatic, awoke something in her. All the more was it clear that she wanted to be the best wife to her husband and stay-at-home mother to her own girls; to be present and 100% focused on her own family.
But as if the universe was intent on testing her resolve, Marcella’s 3rd disappointment came in like a ton of bricks. Her oldest daughter was diagnosed with pediatric arthritis, and they were told by many doctors that the chance of her surviving – or having a fruitful life – was close to impossible.
Marcella, this devoted mother, whose dream was to stay at home to witness her children’s every milestone. Her worst nightmare came true: one of her babies was sick, and she didn’t know what to do about it.
“I’m going through the pandemic, my mom just passed, and now they’re telling me, your daughter may not walk ever again, or she might die.” Marcella takes a deep breath. Her eyes darken at the memory. “And then I’m still working,” she sighs. “I’m still teaching.”
Fortune Favors the Bold
Marcella has never given up faith. Not one single moment during this entire ordeal. Marcella kept praying. She kept her attitude of gratitude. And suddenly, her daughter, who is now a teenager, is in complete remission. The doctors themselves admitted that they didn’t know what happened. Marcella’s first baby girl suddenly turned the corner and recovered from this debilitating life-threatening disease.
“I’m just so thankful for the doctors,” she intimates. “I’m so grateful for people who decide to give their lives to the study of medicine, and that I’m able to live in a time where she can be healed because 30 years ago, that wouldn’t be the case. She’d be dead.”
To be faced with the prospect of your child dying – that’s every parent’s worst nightmare. It’s enough to drive anyone crazy. But Marcella is strong, brave, and faithful, and that attitude of gratitude never fails her.
Marcella took a step back and breathed her prayers of gratitude. This was around the time that Tim and Amy spoke on a webinar about sourcing from Mexico. Marcella was part of the amazing.com community and had access to the webinar. In fact, she listened to the webinar while driving!
The minute she heard about the ease of shipping from Mexico, she was intrigued. She remembered her issues with getting her product to American shores from China.
“But I didn’t want to go by myself and get captured by a cartel!” she exclaimed. She had a lot of doubts. Would she be pitched to and forced to buy a $10,000 mastermind? She was at the end of her rope with Amazon at that point – but Mexico sounded intriguing. Was it time for this strong stalwart lady to throw in the towel? Or would Marcella’s trademark fortitude continue to serve her well?
Not Being Allowed to Hide
Marcella signed up for the trip. “I’m not gonna lie, I had a little freakout moment on the plane!” she confesses. “I was like – what are you doing, you don’t know anybody!”
So much has changed since then. From the minute she touched down in Mexico City, Marcella felt very at ease. She bumped into Norm Farrar on her first foray out of her hotel room, and he convinced her to join the dinner of all the Mexico Trip attendees. She found herself next to a gentleman who shared so much information regarding his own seller journey. “I went back up to my room, I was like, oh my goodness, I made the right decision. Just from that one dinner, you join this network of people that you’re learning from, that’s my ROI.”
She marvels: “It was a little overwhelming. But I immediately felt everyone was so warm, and welcoming, and sharing the information. It was great. I knew I made the right decision.”
Marcella discovered la familia, which is what the attendees, sponsors, and creators of The Mexico Trip fondly call themselves. She found a judgment-free zone of fellow sellers who were generous with their experiences and information, and who would volunteer to help others with their concerns.
Marcella didn’t allow herself to hide away in her hotel room.
Marcella didn’t allow her experiences to get her down, diminish her faith, or lessen her resolve to stay at home with her children.
Marcella was a beacon of light. And blessings finally came her way to reward her patience and fortitude.
Greeted by Warmth
Sourcing from Mexico, in Marcella’s experience, is driven by warmth. During the team’s trip to a Mexican ceramics factory, Marcella found her product. She also discovered how different it is to source from Mexico vs. China.
First of all, there’s no Alibaba. You really have to go to Mexico to look for the product yourself.
Secondly, the Mexican people are driven by relationships. Marcella recalls a conversation she had with her supplier, where they said to her, “we want you to remember us, and we want to work with you.” They’re very clear about wanting a relationship with you – which is very culturally different from Chinese suppliers. It’s a great match for someone like Marcella, whose heart is as big as the Latinos’.
Third, there were kinks. Marcella recalls documents that she had to remind them to translate into English. She recalls the long back-and-forth, the CAD drawings, the What’s App conversations. “We’re learning together,” she promises. It’s also worth noting that the communication barrier doesn’t actually pose a problem!
Fourth, the shipping was so very quick. She was shocked that the delivery took 48 hours to arrive at her doorstep. Furthermore, there was real care and thoughtfulness with how the supplier wrapped and labeled the shipment. “I didn’t even want to open the product, the way they wrapped and shipped it was so beautiful!” she smiles.
There will be obstacles. There will be humps. Mexico isn’t as sophisticated at e-commerce as China is. But it’s offset by how caring and compassionate the people are. “Even if there are mistakes, obstacles, and humps, you’re figuring it out together,” she shares.
The experience has been such a boon after the disappointments that Marcella faced. As she told her husband, “even if this product does nothing, it almost doesn’t matter, because the whole process has been joyful.”
Looks like Marcella found the way to work, survive, thrive, and to find joy.
And she found it on the Mexico Trip.
“You have to go to Mexico,” she says emphatically. “That’s how their culture is, they want to shake your hand, they’re big into relationships. And that’s a beautiful thing. The problem with sourcing from China is, anybody can have your product, right? But with Mexico, you get on a plane and go. The culture is so different.”
Why Source From Mexico?
Marcella delineates the top reasons for her:
- “There’s no taxes.” The free trade agreement between Mexico and the US means you don’t have to pay duties or taxes.
- There’s a robust product assortment. She also swears by Mexican handcrafted quality. There is soul in Mexican products because real attention and care have gone into creating them.
She caps off the tear-jerking interview with amazing advice that holds true for all – Amazon seller or not, entrepreneur or employee, parent or single, pro or beginner.
“There’s something God has put in your heart. Follow that. Believe that. You’re going down a path. Sometimes you just see the step in front of you, or the step you’re on. And that can be scary. But just take that step. You’re gonna meet so many people. Just go. Listen to your inner self. Listen to your heart.”
And believe in miracles. Marcella’s eldest asked for permission to attend the homecoming dance. “You dance,” Marcella told her daughter. “You twirl the night away.”
What can we glean from Marcella?
Survive. Thrive. And find the joy in what you’re doing. Never lose focus. Retain that attitude of gratitude; find something to be thankful for, not just on Thanksgiving, but every single day. Miracles happen all around us, every single day.
And twirl! Dance your way through life.
Destiny awaits. Perhaps you’ll find it, as Marcella did, on a plane ride over to The Mexico Trip, where you’ll find that supplier who’ll help make your stay-at-home-mom dreams come true. Where you’ll discover the compassion and care in your heart mirrored by warm and loving people, eager to help you succeed in your business.
See you at The Mexico Trip; when you arrive, look for Marcella, and you’ll see what we mean. Some people radiate joy. She’s most definitely one of them.