Article Thumbnail

The ‘Panty-preneur’ Queen of the Used Underwear Scene

Dalma Rosa, who hosts a podcast and online school all about the worn-items market, is building a panty-selling empire

Used underwear, toenail clippings, pubic hair, old socks: Dalma Rosa, 41, has built a career out of selling strange things online. “You’d be surprised by some of the stuff people want to purchase,” she tells me, speaking from her home in the U.K. “I had a guy from the Netherlands spend $180 on some old clothes I was throwing out. He just wanted the oldest, mangiest stuff in my wardrobe.”

Rosa — who uses a pseudonym — has been a professional panty-seller for nearly two years now. In that time, she’s become an industry expert, earning tens of thousands of dollars from peddling her used underwear (as well as other worn items) to men on the internet. Her success has led her to launch a five-star rated Panty-Selling Podcast, along with an accompanying “school” that offers tips and tactics for becoming, as she puts it, a “global panty-selling panty-preneur.”

“If you said to me a few years ago that this is what I would be doing, I would have thought you were absolutely insane,” Rosa says. She’s speaking to me on Zoom from an undisclosed location — but if her soft, singalong accent is anything to go by, she’s probably somewhere in Scotland. Panty-selling has changed her life, she tells me, but it’s not a career for the faint of heart: “If I had any insight into what I was letting myself in for when I started, I probably wouldn’t have ever done it.”

As a concept, panty-selling is nothing new. Used underwear has been lurking in the corners of the internet for decades, and is now widely available to buy from an array of specialist websites (as well as on Reddit and Instagram). While no one’s sure exactly where the trend came from, fingers are often pointed to Japan, where “burusera” shops — which specialize in selling schoolgirls’ worn underwear as well as, supposedly, their old tampons and saliva — have existed since the early 1990s

Thankfully, the modern mainstream world of panty-selling is a lot less murky. Now, any adult person — of any size, shape, age and gender — can make good money trading their worn wares online. The trend’s rising popularity is thanks mostly to a 2015 appearance on Orange Is the New Black, in which lead character Piper starts her own black-market panty-selling business (Rosa and many others have cited it as their personal inspiration).

It also crept up in popularity again this year, when a brief guide to panty-selling went viral on TikTok.

“I was looking for a way to make money quickly,” explains Rosa. “Panty-selling just seemed like a ludicrous, silly thing that might be fun to try.” A working mother looking for an additional side hustle, she signed up to selling website Panty Deal just before Christmas in 2018. Without revealing her face, she began modeling whatever underwear she had in her drawer and putting it up for sale.

Within days, she had success: A Norway-based buyer had picked out a pair of her everyday briefs, and was offering $35 for Rosa to wear them and send to him unwashed. What was meant to be a “ludicrous” experiment escalated quickly, and in March the following year, she was making $1,000 a month. It was at that point that the Panty-Selling Podcast was born. “The first few weeks of selling are the steepest learning curve you can imagine,” she tells me. “I consider myself a woman of the world; I have two children, clearly I know my way around a man. But there are fetishes that I never knew existed.”

The Panty-Selling Podcast was launched, then, as a way of helping others surf that curve. Every week, Rosa discusses everything you need to know about the industry, from pricing, platforms, potential scams and unique ways to market yourself. As it turns out, there’s a lot to say on the subject — she’s already 71 episodes in, and still has plenty to talk about.

Rosa says this is mostly because of the industry’s size. Despite its common perception as a niche kink, the worn-items market is sprawling. “Everything sells,” she explains, adding that, while used G-strings tend to be the most popular, there’s also plenty of interest in “stained, old” granny pants. “I’ve been asked for the oldest underwear I have, which is falling apart at the seams, as well as brand new stuff.” Buyers tend to use them to smell and masturbate into, but also to wear.

It’s not just underwear that sells, though. Rosa has been asked for pubic hair clippings and cast-off toothbrushes, as well as socks, stockings and old T-shirts. She has even managed to sell the hair from her hairbrush. “People I know people have sold used toilet paper and earbuds, too,” she adds. 

As for who’s buying this stuff? “It’s always men,” Rosa says. “Always men. The number of times I’ve seen, over the years, guys going onto a platform and expecting to sell their worn items to women… It’s like, no. That’s not happening. There’s a huge market for male items, but it’s not women who are buying them. Women don’t buy this shit because we’re not interested!”

Whoever the target audience is, they’re very engaged. Rosa has made up to $3,000 a month from panty-selling (a figure that could be higher were she not home-schooling her kids), and she says there’s much more to be earned, especially if you branch out with your offerings. Many panty-sellers offer additional services like sexting, custom-made videos and photos (all of which can still be done anonymously), as well as cam work. “I know individuals who do this full-time, and they make way more money than I do,” says Rosa. “People who are prepared to put in the hard work — and that’s honestly the biggest obstacle — could make a full-time income no problem.”

And the hard work shouldn’t be underestimated. Panty-selling is often seen as easy money — you’re wearing it all the time anyway, why not throw it on an online platform and see if it sells? — but Rosa is quick to shoot down that perception. In fact, she says, it’s extremely time-consuming and a business venture that requires serious effort and marketing know-how. To stand out in a crowded market, you need to figure out your brand and be constantly tweaking your content — almost like a social media influencer. (A large part of Rosa’s panty-selling school and the podcast is dedicated to accentuating your personality and making your content stand out.)

There are other downsides too. Selling underwear to a bunch of faceless men on the internet is never going to be entirely without its problems, even if the majority of your sales are smooth (Rosa says 90 percent of customers are “fantastic”). Many panty-sellers are likely to encounter time-wasters, ghosters or verbal abuse from potential buyers. There’s also the risk that customers will fall in love with you, with some women reporting stalkers tracking down their location (you have to be extremely cautious with your personal information). Even worse, and disturbingly common, says Rosa, is a lurking pedophile presence on many platforms — a downside that, when she was first exposed to it, sparked a series of panic attacks and led her to remove herself from all online selling platforms. And although moderators do what they can to shut down these problem accounts, it’s never possible to block them entirely. “I’m not going to sit here and paint a picture of panty-selling as butterflies and rainbows,” stresses Rosa. “It isn’t. There is shit to deal with that may make you want to quit.”

That said, there is a sizable community of sellers — both women and men — who are looking out for each other, offering support and advice wherever it’s needed. Rosa is one of the leaders in this area; her goal with both the podcast and the school is to create a safe, welcoming space for anyone hoping to enter the industry. She invites new sellers to join Kik groups, so they can navigate any pitfalls (or flag any problem buyers). In fact, the warmth of the panty-selling community is one of the reasons Rosa has never been able to leave the industry behind: “Being able to help other women with this has been a blessing, and something that I feel really proud of.”

In other words, panty-selling is a mixed bag. While it’s not the get-rich-quick scheme that many purport it to be, there’s still a lot of money to be made (and being self-employed, in an age of COVID-induced economic instability, holds an undeniable appeal). You just need to be ready to work — whether that means spending nine hours of your day interacting with sellers, or an afternoon trying to capture the perfect underwear shot. But as Rosa points out, making real money is never easy.

“If you’re expecting overnight success, or that you won’t have to work very hard to get this up and running, then you’re going to be let down,” she says, finally. “You can make good money in this if you’re willing to put in the time and energy, especially in the beginning. It’s just about having the right expectations.”

Do Not Sell My Personal Information