Streetstylechi was lucky enough to sit down with Corri McFadden, founder of eDrop-Off and inspiration to many, a few weeks ago. Check out the full interview:
ALEX: So did you always know that you wanted to go into something relating to fashion?
CORRI: No actually! I always liked fashion, I was the first girl to wear leopard pants in fifth grade, which was kind of a big deal. But, I actually wanted to be a cop. My parents vetoed that when I was in high school. So, from there I was like ‘okay, fine, I’ll go into crime scene investigation for the FBI.’ My plan starting out at college was that I was going to go to school, then go to law school, and then go into the FBI.
ALEX: Where did you go to school?
CORRI: I started out at Kansas State, and half way through my Freshman year, that was fun….but I think anyone who is going to college, should at least go to a University for a year. It teaches you a lot, and you just get a lot out of it. You need that freedom. My Sophomore year, I took an outside concentration in fashion, and decided that I wanted to go into fashion design. My parents were like ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’ That’s every parents worst nightmare when their kid is in school, like ‘oh my God, now she wants to be a fashion designer, first it was crime scene investigation?’ But they were really supportive, and that’s how I ended up moving to Chicago, to go to art school. It was very different then being at a University. Art school is so serious and very intense, but I loved it. I ended up with a Bachelors in fashion design.
ALEX: Is that where eDrop-Off came from?
CORRI: Well, upon graduation, I built this business on my own, as my portfolio project, and here I am. I actually missed my college graduation to go to E-Bay Live in New Orleans to find my software. So I graduated July 25th, and then I opened the doors to e Drop-off, on Clark st. on October 1st of 2004. It was pretty wild.
ALEX: How did you balance doing all of this in school?
CORRI: The thing is, when I was in school, I’m really good at time management, which is such a critical skill set, in anything. You have to know how to balance your time to achieve what you want to get done in a day. When I transferred schools, I lost an extreme amount of credits, and then I had to make that up, and the deal with my parents was that I had four years to graduate and that was it. When I moved here, I was taking 21 hours a quarter, and I was working. It was nutty. I would be standing outside, I lived near the lake, the worst place to live in winter, waiting for the 1-51, with my sewing machine, and my over sized drafting boards. I use to listen to John Mayer because I was just trying to keep my mood up. You just make it work. What I have on a schedule in a day is not normal, nor should it be achieved, but when you love what you’re doing, you don’t mind, and you just figure it out. Whether it’s waking up earlier, or staying up until your eyes roll into the back of your head, everyone has those days.
ALEX: So, be passionate about what you’re doing?
CORRI: When you’re passionate about what you’re doing, you don’t mind it doing it. It’s the same with anything, work, a relationship. And when all else fails, turn on some John Mayer. I remember when I opened the doors the first day. I was so concerned with getting brochures and all of my business licenses and finding an accountant and all of these things that I knew nothing about, that I literally forgot to think of ‘what should I say to a client when they come in?’ And so I remember opening the doors October 1st and someone walking in and having no idea what to say, and I just figured it out. I put in a lot of sweat equity, and I continue to do so. What I put into e Drop-Off to have it be the way it is, is something most people wouldn’t.
ALEX: Has eDrop-Off always been strictly designer goods or did you work your way up to this?
CORRI: Oh my God, no. For four years I sold Hummels and fishing equipment, electronics, coins. If you turn on Pawn Stars, literally that’s the merchandise I was dealing with. Because I had to make whatever I had to make to pull my over head. So when a Gucci bag or high end piece would come in, those were the clients I started focusing on, and building relationships with, and I slowly started to carve and mold my nitch. What I had to do for so long to make ends meet, was crazy.
ALEX: That is…crazy.
CORRI: I remember one night, December 22nd, I was leaving the next morning for Kansas City, it was 3a.m., and I was at the store typing up Hummel descriptions. I mean, I knew what this was going to be, I just had to do it. That’s like anything, and even today, I have to go down to Home Depot and pick up an industrial sized heater. Do I want to do that? Hell no! But, no task is too big or too small. I think when a task does get to that point, you yourself start to burn out. As an entrepreneur, or an employer, or anyone, you have to know that…you just have to do what you have to do. And I do it, every day.
JOSEPH: Do you remember your first customer?
CORRI: Yes I do. I remember my first luxury customer, and I remember my first customer. My first customer came in with rollerblades. Shortly after the rollerblades, literally minutes after the rollerblades, was a woman with a tub of Beanie Babies. Right? But some of those Beanie Babies are worth some money! So, whatever anyone could give me that I could make some money off of, I was like ‘alright, let’s do this.” And now, it’s turned into what I want it to be, and we sell 2,000 luxury items a week. I went from Hummels, to an influx of Chanel.
JOSEPH: What was it like moving to this city?
CORRI: I knew no one when I moved to this city. I didn’t know one person. My first roommate I had was the biggest nightmare in the world, still to this day; I mean she was the worst person I’ve met in my life. She was crazy. And my Mom came up the week after I moved here and was like ‘Oh my God, you can’t live with this girl, this is insane.’ So I moved out about three months later, into an apartment by myself. And I opened up the first shop about a block from there. The space was just sitting there, open, so it was perfect. It was a good fit. But, I worked really hard to socially align myself, and meet people, and build relationships, and really network. I am the epitome of what networking can do. When I started e Drop-Off I had no money for advertising, no money to support that, so I had no money for designer clothing, so it’s not like I was out meeting these people shopping, it was always like ‘how am I going to do this?’ I could finally afford one pair of heels and one dress and I started going to luncheons and meeting ladies.
ALEX: Do you have any advice for people looking to have their own business?
CORRI: It’s really, if you want to be an entrepreneur, about finding your nitch. And finding something you’re truly passionate about, and catering to the client, and there has to be a need for it. That’s what it’s all about, if there’s a need and demand for it, and you cater to them, it will work. It’ s just identifying it. For anyone else, follow something for passion, not money. Like here, I’m lowest on the totem pole. An entrepreneur or a business owner is always last paid. You have to take care of everything else before yourself, so you have to be passionate about it. You also have to build yourself with a network that you can truly trust, and it only comes with life experience. I look back on when I was like 22 and I thought I knew everything, and now I’m 31 and I’m like ‘Oh my God, I knew nothing!’ A lot of the obstacles I’ve faced today, they would have been detrimental to myself and my business. Now, I’m like whatever, you’ve just got to keep going. You get thick skin. When you have people where you can truly trust their opinion, now that’s what matters. Cutting ties with people is difficult, but sometimes you have to do it. I’ve seen dreams get shut down because parents won’t pay for their kid to go to fashion school, but that’s not a reason. Sometimes you just have to do it. Make sure you create a healthy outlet for yourself where you can still follow that passion.
CORRI: I think that’s the beautiful thing about blogging in the last few years. Some people have really been able to bring to the forefront what they love and when they’re doing, and for most of them it isn’t their day job. One of my friends, Azeeza, from Atelier Azza, had a full time job, and was just doing her design on the side. Then she got traction, and was able to start just doing that. At the end of the day, it sounds cheesy, but that’s the American dream. The economy has shifted and shattered so many dreams for people and opportunity is so limited because of funding and support, but you can find your own nitch still and there are outlets out there that are looking for those projects that can help fund those things and start a business. But don’t let someone’s words, because you love them or you feel like you have to, take you down.
ALEX: Do you think that goes for relationships too?
CORRI: That absolutely goes for relationships too. Be in a healthy relationship. Have a partner that supports you. Or your career will be very short lived, and you might not see it at the time, but it will. Because then it [your career] will not become a priority, it will get put on the back burner, and they will take you down. You need someone that’s going to be like ‘that’s amazing’ or someone who will push you to make things better, or give you ideas that you haven’t thought of. Someone that is passionate about it.
ALEX: Someone that gets it.
CORRI: Someone that can support it and feed it. That’s why I’m so lucky with Spiro [Corri’s Fiance.] Before Spiro, I was in a different relationship while I was building this business and being with him [Spiro] has brought out a completely different side of me and I’ve seen that and I’ve lived that. So I tell younger girls and boys all the time, I’m like ‘get out of that!’ Like why are you in that? What for? We shouldn’t be fighting and arguing and it just should never be there [in a relationship.] A lot of that happens in your 20s, but your 20s should be used smart. Put in the time, put in the sweat, figure out what you love, so as your later 20s roll around, you can channel that, and do that, and experiment. If you find something your passionate about, put your sweat equity in there and work your way up. If it’s something you find that you don’t like, that’s just as good, because then you won’t go into a job doing something similar. When you leave that job, go do something different that you might like. A lot of people do something different in their 20s or don’t use it wisely, but my 20s, I was working. I barely went out. I mean all I did was work but I like working. I don’t mind it. My fiancé is the same way, he owns his own company and he works a ton so he understands, and we understand each other.
ALEX: If you’re an outsider, you don’t understand. You don’t get what the other person is going through or why they’re doing it.
CORRI: Exactly, they don’t get it. It’s impossible to explain, and that’s from experience. You try to make them get it, but it’s like you know, if they don’t have that mind set, they aren’t going to understand why you do.
ALEX: Any other words of advice?
CORRI: Truly follow your passion, don’t follow money. Money will not make you happy. I don’t care how much money you’re making, if you hate what you’re doing, you’re going to come home and bitch about it and make the other person miserable, and ruin that relationship. When you come home and you’re excited to talk about your day, that’s what nourishes things and makes them grow. Also, building self awareness. It’s being aware or who you are and how you come across. A lot of people don’t have any self awareness. They get so tied up in themselves, and it’s good to be selfish, but you also have to know who you are to everyone else. Not just to yourself and what you see in the mirror, and your pictures on Facebook.
CORRI: I feel like a lot of people create this persona that they want to be, like they’ll only show the pretty and glossy. I have to say, that’s the one thing I do love about Kim Kardashian. She’ll show us before and after photos of her contouring, and on some level, you have to appreciate that honesty. Everyone rips her apart, and she knows that she’s going to get 8,000 comments [on an Instagram picture] that dismantle her below that, but like she doesn’t care. She does not care, and that’s what people don’t understand. All of those haters going on there, they’re giving her exactly what she needs and exactly what she wants. They are fueling her, and making her relative. They are making her matter. And over all, they took the time to type that. That’s what they don’t get. There comes a point, same thing with competition, same with haters, you have to learn to embrace that and use that, and not let it get you down. It shouldn’t, because it you’re comfortable, then who cares! Just be like ‘hate on!’
ALEX: That’s kind of something Joseph and I are dealing with in regards to the site, it’s crazy what people will say anonymously.
CORRI: Oh yeah, but who cares! Who cares. You could read into it, but you know, that at the end of the day when you’re honest with yourself, if something has weight and you should be paying attention to it and addressing it, and you don’t need to make it public, but, most of the stuff is probably just BS, like whatever, it’s jealousy, haters, jealous, like I said, who cares. And when you can digest that information trustfully to yourself, then you can use it, and leverage it to help you. When you become discouraged by it, it’ll hold you back and you’ll start second guessing yourself. You need to go with your gut and if something is ethically right then who cares what they’ll say!
ALEX: That, is a great way of dealing with things.
CORRI: I mean I don’t get a ton of hate, but people talk, and I don’t care. I could not care less. And when you see that person [talking about you] they’re probably just going to smile and ask you how you are and compliment your shoes and you’re just going to be like ‘okay, awesome.” I would rather have that then a bunch of rifs in a room. I don’t like dealing with drama. It’s not fun and it holds you back and wastes your energy elsewhere. It’s so easy to get caught up in, but when you step back and look at the energy you put there instead of something positive, it’s not worth it. It’s just not. No level of hate has any weight. It was all just jealousy and I can’t believe I put any effort into it.
ALEX: They just wish they were in your position.
CORRI: It is. It’s just part of it, and it’s a part of growing and doing business and putting yourself out there. And that’s what people have to realize. If you’re going to put yourself out there, you have to be willing to take it because you’re putting yourself on the front line and that comes with good, and it comes with bad. Usually more good then bad. And when you learn how to turn the bad, it doesn’t even really matter. You can’t let it impact you. Move on. I’m doing what I’m passionate about, I have a fiancé I love, I have a family I love, I have friends that I love. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters. When I first started, I only had one Prada nylon wallet and my neighbor Peyton gave it to me because she had two. She was nice enough to share, and I had nothing but I wanted it! I wanted a designer closet and I wanted shoes and bags and I just remember just sitting and yearning for that and now I have that stuff and it’s great and you feel good, but it’s just stuff. I look at it some days and I’m just like ‘whatever.’ At the end of the day, it’s just stuff and this business shows you that more then anything. It comes and it goes. You love it one season, and you hate it the next. People in life who you truly love, will be in every season. I think it’s important to know that.
ALEX: It’s true!
CORRI: They’re always in style. I got Harley [Corri’s dog] for college graduation. My mom gave me money and was like ‘please don’t waste it!’ She wanted me to buy something that I was actually going to use and love, so I got Harley. He’s been with me everyday since I started e Drop-Off. He’s the oldest board member.
Photos by Joseph Kerins