Arguably one of the most important days of your life is college graduation. You went through 4 years of school, and when it’s all said and done it’s time for you to officially begin your journey towards adulthood. Let’s imagine for a second, that you have this idea that strikes you. It is innovative and fresh, and could possibly be a game changer. Now let’s say you skip your college graduation to pursue this dream. Would you do it? Well for this Chicagolite Spotlight, Corri McFadden had an innovative idea and ditched her college graduation to attend an eBay conference. The rest is history and now we have the pioneer of luxury consignment eDrop-Off.
eDrop-Off has recently celebrated 10 years! That is quite the feat for this young trailblazer and I think we all have a lot that we can learn from Corri. Without further ado, here are some words of inspiration from Chicago’s very own, Corri McFadden.
TCL: Tell us about the birth of eDrop-Off
CM: I started eDrop-Off 10 years ago this past October. I went to school for fashion design and developed the business plan for eDrop-off as my graduation portfolio project. I felt there was a void in the consignment market and knew that I could pioneer an innovative way to fill it. However, not everyone felt that way, my program director thought it was a terrible idea, but I knew I had something and refused to be deterred. I skipped my graduation to go to eBay Live in hopes of finding software to help launch my business, and three months after I graduated I opened the doors to eDrop-Off’s first retail space. Ten years later, here we are as one of the largest luxury consignment companies in the country with over 400,000 luxury items sold to date. We sell approximately 2,000 items per week, so the office is always bustling with new merchandise. I oversee two eDrop-Off locations, which house stylists, copywriters, and photographers, so a staff of 40+ fills my day and keeps me on my toes!
TCL: As you started this entrepreneurial journey, what were the toughest aspect of being an entrepreneur that you had to adjust to?
CM: When you start your own company, whether it thrives or falls apart is all up to you. Working for a large company as an entry-level employee is much different than opening a brand new business, all the responsibility is on you. I had to learn quickly how to manage my money and to be fiscally responsible, which can be difficult for any 20-something! Every dollar I earned in those early years was immediately put back into my business. What I think a lot of entrepreneurs don’t anticipate is that you are not going to make a lot of money at first and that it will be a couple years before you start to see any return if you are lucky.
TCL: You’ve mentioned in the past being the pioneer of luxury consignment. With more and more businesses entering into this arena, how does eDrop-Off stay on top of the competition?
CM: There’s been a lot of competition that’s come into this industry over the last 24 months. My motto is “Competition Keeps You In Condition” and that keeps you motivated and thinking outside the box. My wonderful client base is what has helped me through a lot of these challenges in the ever-changing market. 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.
TCL: Did you always know that you would be an entrepreneur?
CM: I have my bachelor’s degree in fashion design and knew I always wanted to do something in fashion and owning my own business came as a result of my passion. I was up late one night sewing a final project and saw a commercial on TV and it sparked an idea to open an eBay store and sell designer items. 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.
TCL: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
CM: Be passionate about what you do. Whatever it is, there’s room for everyone, you just need to find your own niche, and learn how you can differentiate yourself. Your passion is what is going to help motivate you through the low times and propel you in the good times. In addition, learn to hone into your client base, and find out what’s important to them and cater to that.
TCL: What has been a career highlight for you thus far?
CM: When I first started eDrop-Off in 2004, I only had $30.00 in my bank account and had to take out a line of credit in order to get my business started. Fast-forward 10 years later, we celebrated eDrop-Off’s 10 Year Anniversary with the launch of a new E-commerce site, The Collection by eDrop-Off. The Collection will now offer our customers luxury items at fixed prices with 100% new merchandise every 2-3 weeks! We also opened a second retail store in the Gold Coast area. I am amazed how far eDrop-Off has come and all that we have accomplished.
TCL: You’ve already left your mark in the world of fashion and business, what do you want people to say about Corri McFadden?
CM: I want people to say that I am a hardworking businesswoman that tries to deliver the best experience to all of our clients and customers who use our services. Zelda’s birth has completely changed my outlook on life now that I am a mother. Out of everything in my life, she comes first and I want people to see that change. I also want people to say that that girl has one awesome shoe collection too!
TCL: You juggle quite a bit running a business, being a mother, and being a style expert for various networks. What would you say is the key to balance and stability in your life?
CM: It’s not easy being a full-time mom and owning your own business but the pleasure I get from watching both my business and brand grow keeps me motivated and on track. I wouldn’t be able to survive without my awesome staff on board. You really have to learn how to separate and draw a line between your business and your personal life too, otherwise it can over-consume you in a way that you can’t even function. That took me a long time to learn that and I continue to learn it. I work all the time, but now I’m a mom, if I want to go do something or be somewhere, I have to take into account how it’s going to affect Zelda.
TCL: We’ve all had those I wish I knew then what I know now moments. What is something you wish you knew when you first started eDrop-Off?
CM: Whatever you do, don’t become complacent! Never let your business become “safe” even if it’s doing well. Another piece of advice I would give is to surround yourself with a strong team that are go-getters and not just dreamers. Being realistic about your schedule and goals are also an asset you will need to keep you moving.
TCL: Describe the moment when you realized that all of your hard work on eDrop-Off had paid off?
CM: I remember about 18 months in, Entrepreneur magazine featured me, I couldn’t afford advertising or PR, so it came about organically, and that’s when I knew I was on to something.
TCL: What’s next for Corri?
CM: I had an amazing year, from the birth of my daughter Zelda, to launching The Collection by eDrop-Off and opening a second store, it was a great 2014 both from a personal and professional standpoint! I want to continue expanding my business along with my new mom site, Glitter and Bubbles, which is a modern-day mom guide for those looking for inspiration through fashion, décor and food.
Corri’s Chicago Guide
1. Favorite place to grab drinks in Chicago
2. If it’s our first time in the city, where should we go and grab dinner?
Nellcote– Such a cool atmosphere and the food is out of this world.
3. Best place for a staycation in the city
The Langham Chicago hotel! I go there all the time with Zelda; they have the best afternoon tea in the city.
4. Describe a typical weekend with Corri
My weekends are all about catching up on work, chores around the house, Swim lessons, long walks with Zelda and the yorkies, Whole Foods, Brunching, and Sleep!
Corri has inspired me in so many ways. However, I may be biased since we share the same name 😉 I truly admire how she took a risk and just followed her passion and didn’t let any obstacles get in her way. I think everyone can take something away from this interview whether you are an aspiring entrepreneur or just trying to make it in life. I’m incredibly grateful that she took the time to share her story with you all.
If you want to learn even more about Corri McFadden visit CorriMcFadden.com to get style tips and keep up her with her daily musings! Also go to shopedroff.com so you can check what they have in store at Corri’s luxury consignment shop.