My time here in Salvador is coming to a close, so I thought I would share with all of you ex-pats, foreigners, etc who are trying to eek out a living here one of my secrets to making some extra money while in Brazil. Two words: Victoria's Secret.
Brazilian women are crazy for beauty products from Victoria's Secret, specifically the Secret Garden collection's body lotion. It could be that there are no VS shops in Brazil, so having access to this lotion is kind of a status symbol...demonstrating that the person has either traveled to the USA, has a relative living in the US who sends the stuff here, or has access to someone who has traveled there. At any rate, there are some stores here that sell the stuff without the consent of VS, but they charge super high prices for it, like it's gold or something. I've seen it for sale at the mall for like R$80 for ONE bottle. With the current exchange rate, that´s about $35US. Crazy!
So here's what I've done since being here. Every time I go to the US, I buy at least 10 bottles of the lotion. You can usually get 5 bottles for $30US. The most popular scents are Strawberries and Champagne (this is the absolute best seller), Love Spell, Vanilla, and Pear Glace. Then I tell all of my students who have money that I'm selling it, so that if they or their friends are interested they can buy it from me. I sell it for R$40 per bottle, which is much better than the mall and still enough for me to make a decent profit, so everyone's happy.
I've never tried having someone from the US send it, but I have a Brazilian friend in the US who sends the stuff down to his family to sell in southern Brazil. You might have to charge more because you have to spend money on postage too. It's more cost efficient if you bring it in your luggage. Also, last Christmas I bought a bunch of stuff on sale to bring back with me, including 2 purses and some kits that had like a lotion, soap, bath spray, etc. I sold these, but it took longer than selling the lotion, so I would recommend just sticking to the lotions. They are a sure sale.
The only thing you really need is access to people who have money. But if you're teaching English, you probably could sell these lotions to your students.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask me, but this has been a good little side money maker for me and now it could be for you too.