$36.00 -- That’s all that was left in Corri McFadden’s bank account when she graduated college. Her entrepreneurial spirit helped launch her company in just a few short months. Nine years after that her business eDrop-Off, employs over 40 people and is a multi-million dollar enterprise. Corri started out at Kansas State University where she pursued Crime Scene Investigation. Her outside focus of Fashion Design had caused her to have a drastic change of heart.
Passionate about following this new road, she knew what she wanted to do. Corri took the move to Chicago to complete her Bachelor’s Degree in Fashion Design. There are a long list of accomplishments that show us how far this driven individual has come. Not only is she the founder of eDrop-Off, but hosts a weekly fashion segment on WCIU Chicago’s “You and Me This Morning”, had a reality TV show on VH1 “House of Consignment, blogger for multiple sites including her own, a Chicago socialite and much more. Designing her own jewelry collection has also now been added to her to-do list.
GRACESHIP: How did you go from a college student into selling luxury goods?
CORRI McFADDEN: When I was approaching my final senior project in my final semester of school, I was literally putting together my collection. I was up late one night sewing and at that battle that graduation is real. I need to start a career, what am I going to do? I saw a commercial for an eBay drop off store. Between 2004 and 2006, eBay drop off stores were the most popular franchise business model to go into. I was thinking “That's what I'm going to do and I'll sell luxury goods.”
I went to my program director and I told her this (eBay idea) is what I wanted to do for graduation. I would still complete my collection, but I want to write a business plan and that is what I want to be judged on. She looked at me and asked me who I was, then told me it was the most ridiculous idea that she's ever heard. That kind of really lit the fire under me, being 22 years old and in that fearless mode, having nothing to lose because you've been living on a ramen noodle budget.
I missed my college graduation to go to eBay LIVE in New Orleans, LA and I maxed out a line of credit from the bank and I got an SPA loan. I graduated at the end of July in 2004 and I opened my first retail space October 1, 2004. I created a situation in my life to where failure wasn't an option. I drove myself into bigger debt then a student loan and I had to make this work.
When I first opened, I opened as an eBay store where I sold everything from fly fishing equipment, coins, to electronics. It was not what I wanted to be doing, but it was what I needed to do in order to create a reputation and start meeting clients with luxury goods. Every client that would come in and bring a Gucci bag or a Chanel bracelet, those are the clients that I started really bonding with and building relationships.
About 4 years into it, I had the ability to stop taking all this stuff that I had to take just to make ends meet and 100% go over to luxury consignment. Ever since then I've just been hustling very hard.
GRACESHIP: Is there any particular product you've sold that really stands out to you? Anything extremely rare?
CORRI McFADDEN: It's hard because at this point I've sold over 300,000 luxury items. I've been very privileged to have amazing inventory flow.
We did sell a Cartier Art Deco Necklace that was AMAZING, selling for over $70,000. That was a really special piece. It broke apart from a necklace into a triple tennis bracelet. It was very cool. Last year we sold over 2,400 pieces of Chanel for one single client, which was amazing. It was Chanel like no one had ever seen. We get in glassware and a couple weeks ago we sold several Birkin bags in one week. We get pretty much everything through. It is awesome because it's great for our clients, good to help them clear it and make some money.
GRACESHIP: At what point did you feel that you really made it?
CORRI McFADDEN: I feel... I've made it in a lot of ways. I have a successful business, I have an amazing staff and I've made it socially. I think to myself though, what is it to make it? I created a complete start up 9 years ago and I built it from my graduating checkbook of $36.00.
I think we only just started on where we want to go and we have so much left to do. Sometimes its surreal, I’ll step back standing in the store and I think “Holy cow! I own this and I'm responsible for all this.” You kind of forget because you keep going, moving, putting out flyers and trying to keep your business growing. I don't think we've made it to where I know we're going to go, but I've definitely have made it.
GRACESHIP: We believe making it essentially, is when you're running the business and the business isn't running you. You're actually confident for a change, with your capabilities. You think “Wow we’re actually making a profit!”
CORRI McFADDEN: Yea and that takes a while. The thing is, I've learned very early on when we first started making a profit. I saved ALL of my profit because then shortly thereafter 4 years later, the bottom fell out of the economy. I wanted to move my business, grow my business and that was up to me to do that since I am self-funded. I reinvested everything that I made and financially found myself where I was the first day. Going from 8 employees to 40 employees you start over in a sense. It is just growing the business out and I think that as long as you enjoy it and you have a great team, you're doing something right.
GRACESHIP: When do you sleep and how do you maintain a social life? How do you get it all done
CORRI McFADDEN: I Sleep! Sleep is a really big thing for me and it is something I refuse to sacrifice. I get up really early two days a week. The other three days a week I get up and work from home for a couple hours then get myself ready. Sleep is a big thing and I always preach that. It isn't so you look better, but it’s really so you can give the best you. Every day while I'm awake and I'm doing as much as I can possibly do. I really have no wasted time that exists in my schedule and I couldn't do that unless I slept. It's the same thing, if you are doing what you love and you're excited to do it then you just find a way. You just find a way to do it and manipulate it around.
It is also about having a strong team that can support you and help you. I have an amazing assistant and publicist that structure my life for me, making sure I'm where I am supposed to be or picking up the phone when I should be picking it up. I didn't have an assistant for the first six and a half to seven years I was in business. I really did it all on my own. I've been one to work it out and just figure it out. If you don't want to do something then don't do it and don't commit to it.
GRACESHIP: What is your one go to fashion piece or that you just can’t live without?
CORRI McFADDEN: I wear a lot of pants, my favorite are a pair of black leather leggings from The Row. I love them because I know that even if I'm not feeling great I can put those on because they are comfortable. I can slide a heel on with a tee shirt and be together. I also have a Balenciaga black motorcycle jacket, this will be my fifth winter with it and I live for it! It is one of those pieces where someone is like "Oh my God $3,000 for a jacket?!", but when you look that, this is my fifth winter with it and start doing the math, things start adding up. I think it is important to invest in pieces that you really, truly love and you're excited to carry over your next season.
GRACESHIP: What is your one go to makeup or beauty item for your work day?
CORRI McFADDEN: The one thing I can't live without is my blow out from Joseph at Salon Buzz. He does my blowout at my home. Then, I use TIGI Tony and Guy Rockstar Dry Shampoo. I get a blow out at the beginning of the week and I use the dry shampoo for about 4 days after that. Then I ponytail it at the end of the week, I only wash my hair usually about twice a week. The dry shampoo, it doesn't matter how oily it is, it will solve the problem. I say that I make money off of my blowouts because it saves me so much time.
GRACESHIP: You're still young and have been so successful from such a very young age. What do you want to tell other young women? What is your best piece of advice for finding success and happiness in the professional world?
CORRI McFADDEN: It is so cliché, but money is not going to bring you happiness. You need to really find what you are passionate about. Blogging has brought a lot of freedom and individual freedom to people too. Create that pocket to really tap into what you like, even if it is not in your professional field. You are then still creating a balance in your life, making you excited to go home and do that.
A lot of people will just sit around and complain about what they want to be doing, but they aren't doing anything about it. It doesn't mean it has to be during your 9-5 life, you have the evenings for your personal time or you can create that pocket. Then if it starts to develop into something and you find out that you are really passionate about it, then make a career change.
If you're coming straight out of school and you're anxious going into marketing, be ready to hustle and commit. There is no short term success, it does not exist ANYWHERE. If it does, it will fizzle so fast and you'll find yourself in a much more difficult place then if you would have just done it the right way.
My generation and generations below is very skewed and very entitled. Everyone thinks that if they show up for work, that they deserve more and don't understand that that's what you're being paid to do there. If you're are looking for more within the workplace where you are, make that work place better. Bring new ideas to the plate. Don't just say things, act on things.
When you go in for a review bring to the plate not what you want, but what you've done and what you look to do. Businesses are looking for people that are invested and those are the people that will invest back in you. For some reason, there is some university class out there, I don't know where but it tells you that you should make $100,000 your first year and you just need to show up. That doesn't exist. It's really about finding what you're passionate about and diving into it. If you find the passion has fizzled and not you anymore, then make a change. Only you can change.