In the past two years, Corri McFadden has starred in her own TV show on VH1, gotten engaged, launched a jewelry line, and opened a second brick-and-mortar location for eDrop-Off, her super-successful luxury consignment business. To name a few.
But, 2014 is poised to be her biggest year yet. eDrop-Off is celebrating its 10 year anniversary, plans for national and international expansion are in the works, and…..Corri is expecting her first baby in July! We got a chance to chat with Corri–she cracked us up–about all that’s going down this year. So read on, get inspired, pick up a few style tips, and laugh a little, too.
2014 MARKS THE 10 YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF EDROP-OFF!
Yes! It will be 10 years on October 1st.
HOW DOES THAT FEEL?
It’s pretty wild. It went so fast. My parents were always like ‘time goes so fast,’ and I was like ‘whatever,’ and then when you look back it’s like oh my god, it does go so fast! But it’s been awesome. Just to see the company evolve, and what we’ve turned into, pioneering the road of luxury consignment. When I started this company 10 years ago, I was trying to educate people on eBay—it was the beginning of commerce online—and now to see where we’re at in really a short span of time, it’s crazy. It’s fulfilling and it’s wild all at the same time. I still feel really good about the business, which is a lot to be said after 10 years. A lot of people get burnt out. But it’s just been really exciting to watch the business grow, and evolve, and move into different locations, and to hire more people. It’s been fun!
YOU JUST OPENED A SECOND LOCATION IN CHICAGO, AND YOU’VE MADE OVER 300,000 SUCCESSFUL TRANSACTIONS WITH EDROP-OFF. WHEN YOU STARTED OUT, DID YOU EVER IMAGINE YOU’D BE AS SUCCESSFUL AS YOU ARE?
I don’t know, I don’t really think of things in that way. I knew what I was doing was right, and I always just went with my gut, and I’ve always felt good about it. Did I see it evolving into something this large? Kind of, but I didn’t know the capacity of what we could really do. I’ve always had my five and 10 year goals, and we definitely met and surpassed those, and moving into the next chapter of the business I really want to make some large expansions both domestically and internationally.
LOOKING BACK ON THE BUSINESS, HOW HAS IT CHANGED SINCE THOSE FIRST FEW YEARS?
After 10 years I’m still as excited to come to work as I was in the beginning. But it’s a lot nicer now [Laughs]. I have a lot of luxuries like an office –when I first started, I didn’t even have a place to put my handbag–which is really nice.
When we first opened, we were in a small retail space, approximately 600 square feet. It was very eBay driven. The office had these bright, primary-blue walls, and our logo kind of looked like the eBay logo. When I opened eDrop-Off, I opened it off of a line of credit and an SBA loan, because when I graduated college I didn’t have any money to my name. And, I just made it work.
I developed the free closet clean, where I would go to clients’ homes and step into their environments, so it was more personal, and people would feel comfortable giving me their Birkins and Chanel. And we ended up getting these clients who believed in us. I saved every single dollar that I made, and we opened a new retail space about five years after I started the company. And that’s where I really made my vision come to life, which was to create a space that would feel similar to if you came to Barney’s, so that consigning didn’t feel like an interruption to your day, so people felt happy about purging their goods and not like it was a chore.
It didn’t happen overnight, though. You can’t do it all at once. A lot of people want to open a beautiful, fabulous space right at the beginning, and they overextend themselves, and they don’t even have a real grasp on the service they’re providing. So I built my built my service before I built the space to match.
WAS THERE A MOMENT WHEN YOU KNEW YOU WERE ON TO SOMETHING, AND THAT YOU WERE GOING TO BE A SUCCESS?
Yes. I remember about 18 months in, Entrepreneur magazine featured me, and that’s when I was sort of like “Oh, wow!” Because I got the recognition on my own—I couldn’t afford advertising or PR, so it came about organically. When I first opened we accepted everything. I wanted to sell luxury goods, but in the beginning we weren’t getting enough traffic to sustain that idea and pay the overhead. But over time, seeing the flow of those luxury goods increasing, that’s when I knew I was on to something, and I just kept at it and never stopped.
WHAT KEEPS YOU MOTIVATED TO KEEP WORKING?
Really, it’s just seeing the business grow. And my staff is awesome, and our clients. We’ve helped so many clients through difficult times in their lives, whether they’re downsizing or they’re getting a divorce or dealing with a death, it’s fulfilling when you can help someone. We also have relationships with clients who have been with us since the beginning, and that’s really important, there’s a lot of loyalty.
There’s been a lot of competition that’s come into this industry over the last 24 months. I think competition keeps you in condition and it keeps you innovative and thinking outside the box. So it’s that, too, all the possibilities and things we haven’t done. So I’m not at a plateau.
LOOKING BACK ON THE FIRST 10 YEARS, WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
I think really just pioneering luxury consignment overall. We started doing this at a time when nobody had heard of it or thought of it. Consignment has been around forever, but we brought the consignment model to current times, and to e-commerce. So really pioneering this industry, and having people look to us for inspiration. I think it says a lot, because this is one of the most popular business models in the fashion industry right now, which is crazy. It’s going through a very popular phase, but we started that. We’ve been doing this for 10 years, and we can take credit for that and it’s something to really be proud of.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST LEARNING EXPERIENCE AS A BUSINESS OWNER?
You know, there’s so much. You could ask me that question every day and you’d probably get a different answer. It’s been constant growth for me. From learning how to lead five employees, to 40 employees, and how to keep everyone motivated and going, to learning what to fuel and what not to fuel, and deciding where my energy is best directed.
I also think in the beginning of starting any company, everything feels very personal, because it’s your baby. But over time, you learn to separate that, and draw a line between your business and your personal life, which is so important, because otherwise it can over-consume you in a way that you can’t even function. That took me a long time to learn, that balance, and I continue to learn it. I work all the time, but now if I want to go do something or be somewhere, I’m present. It’s hard to find that balance.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR PEOPLE WHO WANT TO START THEIR OWN BUSINESSES?
Doing your own thing. Whatever it is you want to do, there’s room for everyone, you just need to find your own niche, and how you can differentiate yourself. Look at how many people own dry cleaners, or look at how many people do nails, there’s room for everyone, but there’s a reason why you go back to the same person over and over again. It’s really about honing into your client base, and finding out what’s important to them and catering to that.
Also, we built a brand with eDrop-Off. We’re a brand and not a local business, and as an entrepreneur, it’s about understanding what you want to do, and how far you want to go with it, and when you’re satisfied. And the people who become satisfied with their business at an earlier point than others, but it’s important to understand that, what you want from your business.
YOU GET TO GO INTO SOME PRETTY COOL CLOSETS. ANY FAVORITES THAT YOU CAN SPEAK OF?
We can’t name clients specifically. I think that’s one thing about our service that has really sustained us, the confidentiality. We sell for celebrities, and we sell for some of the wealthiest family names in the country, and our clients know that they can trust us. But, we have some awesome clients and some of the homes we go into are just beyond. It’s crazy. I went to school for fashion design, and people were always like “How are these luxury companies in business? How is Chanel in business? And Oscar? How do they do this?” And then you meet their core clientele, and you’re like “Ohhh!” [Laughs]. We have clients come in with pieces that have three, five, seven-thousand dollar price tags and they’ve never been worn. And it’s not one item it’s like hundreds of items. Some of these ladies consume $300,000 or $400,000 a month and wear what they choose. But it’s great, we love it!
YOU SAID THERE’S A LOT OF COMPETITION IN THE LUXURY CONSIGNMENT SPACE NOW. DO YOU THINK IT’S YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR CLIENTS THAT KEEPS THEM LOYAL TO EDROP-OFF?
It is. The business is eYou have you consignor that you’re selling your merchandise for, and then you have your eBay buyer. The eBay buyer is very unique, you don’t know who you’re dealing with on the other side. It’s a user id, and sometimes those user IDs are very crazy! And you just kind of have to go with it. You don’t know, it could be their first Chanel bag, and they have so much anticipation built up for this bag, and it’s about really kind of appealing to everybody.
The other thing is too, that you can be someone who makes $12,000 a year interning, and you can come in once a year with the designer sunglasses that you bought to treat yourself, and you want to sell them so you can upgrade them, and you’ll get the same treatment as someone who sells $2 million with us. You know, we just like nice clients.
IN ADDITION TO EDROP-OFF, YOU’VE KIND OF BECOME A BRAND YOURSELF. YOU HAVE A POPULAR PERSONAL WEBSITE AND BLOG, AND RECENTLY LAUNCHED YOUR OWN JEWELRY LINE ON YOUR SITE. HOW DOES THAT RELATE TO EDROP-OFF? OR DOES IT?
The jewelry collection I did—it’s all repurposed vintage jewelry into contemporary pieces, and then overall, on my website, I do lifestyle and fashion segments, but I did try to create my own brand because it all goes back to my core, which is eDrop-Off. So it’s all about finding unique ways to make yourself relevant and known, because people are always going to want to know “what else does that person do?” And so it’s kind of man hour marketing.It’s me putting in the sweat equity, and getting that notoriety that then goes back to the business. One of the biggest difficulties in owning a small business is making yourself new and relevant, because the press runs out. The press always wants to know “what’s new,” “what’s new?” It’s all you ever hear, so it’s finding ways to answer that question. I’ve made myself the face of the brand, so tt all goes back to eDrop-Off.
SO HOW DO YOU FIND TIME TO RUN A BUSINESS, AND START A JEWELRY COLLECTION, AND WRITE BLOG POSTS, ETC.,ETC.?
I’m really good with time management? [Laughs] But I’ve also grown my team around me as my company has grown. So, you have to learn how to give up certain responsibilities, which as an entrepreneur can be difficult, because you want to do everything. But when you allow other people to take over, it can spark other ideas that you may have never thought of. I have an awesome team around me, so I can’t say I do everything on my own, because I don’t.
The other day I posted something that said “You have as many hours in the day as Beyonce,” and people responded to me “But Beyonce has nannies,” and “Beyonce has help” and I’m like OK, big picture, yes! But in the beginning, when she was in Destiny’s Child, and her mom was sewing her costumes, she didn’t have any of that! And she’s built that brand for herself, and she has to have all of those people to run what she’s doing. No one person can do it all on their own. Yes, Beyonce has nannies, and that’s fine, but she’s still awesome!
SPEAKING OF NANNIES….YOU’RE EXPECTING! CONGRATS! YOU’RE SORT OF KNOWN FOR YOUR STYLE, SO WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON PREGNANCY STYLE? IT KIND OF GETS A BAD RAP, ESPECIALLY WITH ALL OF KIM KARDASHIAN’S OUTFIT CHOICES LAST YEAR.
Well, I don’t have Kanye putting me in terrible outfits everyday, so I think I’m a step ahead of Kim! [Laughs] Really it’s just staying true to my style overall, and that’s kind of my plan. I think Gwen Stefani has done a really good job of that: she still looks just like Gwen Stefani, she’s in leather pants, and a plaid jacket, and that’s what I’m wearing, leather pants and a Rodarte shirt today. I’m just going to stay true to myself. I know a lot of eyes are on my for pregnancy style, so I’m really trying to make it a goal to keep it together in that way, and to be a little bit of inspiration. There’s so many J Brand maternity jeans, it’s amazing. I’m like, I should have been wearing these instead of my regular ones! They look exactly the same, and they’re so comfortable! I want to just look like Corri, but with a bump in the front.
DO YOU FEEL ANY PRESSURE TO LOOK AWESOME WHILE YOU’RE PREGNANT?
I mean I think, being in the [fashion industry], I feel that kind of pressure on me anyways, and I’ve just kind of learned to deal with that. But I’m the kind of person who wears their pieces over and over, so many people are concerned with like “It’s been on Instagram, I can’t wear that again,” but I’m not like that. I wear the same pieces, and just try and reinvent them.
But, on the other hand, I’m 32, and in the fashion scene in Chicago, I am one of the first people in that realm that is pregnant. So I think just staying together, and staying in leather, that’s my goal. [Laughs].
SO, PREGNANT OR NOT, WHAT’S YOUR GO-TO OUTFIT? WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE THINGS IN YOUR CLOSET THIS SEASON?
More than anything, I love leather pants and a plain tee with some great jewelry. That’s my go-to. I kind of have a rocker edge to me, I’m not really “pretty” in how I dress. I’m not opposed to skirts and dresses and things, but I prefer just a comfortable, chic look. And, I mean, I love heels, but I won’t wear them in the winter, because I’ll break my ass, so I try to find really cool boots. I got these Givenchy black and gold chain boots, and I’ve been living in them. That, and I got this pair of Christian Siriano black leather track pants that are awesome, and so comfortable. It’s just being real with your style, so that it’s something you can move in and that you feel comfortable in.
NEEDLESS TO SAY, THIS IS GOING TO BE A BIG YEAR FOR YOU! DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS FOR 2014?
Just to keep myself together! I have a huge chapter starting in July, so it will just be finding that healthy balance between work and family, and it’s something I won’t really know how to conquer until it comes. But I’m really excited for it.