Corri McFadden is not in Kansas anymore.
Since launching her luxury consignment website Shopedropoff.com in 2004, the Kansas City, Mo., native has made a name for herself as a style-savvy entrepreneur in Chicago.
“Fashion is definitely in my blood,” said McFadden. “[This all started because] I was 22 years old and fearless, and had an idea. I decided I was going to open an eBay store and sell designer and luxury items. And that is what I did. I even missed my college graduation to go to an eBay Live event.”
Today, McFadden’s business is booming, with an average 2,000 luxury pieces sold each week. To keep pace, the company, which turned 10 this year, added 20 employees and debuted a second brick-and-mortar location in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood in December.
The concept is simple: McFadden and her team offer a venue for people to sell pieces from their closets that they no longer wear, authenticating and photographing everything for the site. On any given day, Web shoppers can bid on such designer footwear as Manolo Blahnik booties and Jimmy Choo pumps.
When it comes to her personal wardrobe, McFadden has about 130 pairs from names including Brian Atwood, Christian Siriano and Christian Louboutin. She said she tends to choose items that are a bit daring and decadent. “I gravitate to the [styles] a lot of people might consider not very functional,” she said. “I like the shoes women wish they had in their closet, but they don’t make that choice. I’ll always get pieces that are unique, that are like art.”
Here, the consignment maven offers a glimpse inside her shoe closet.
Pairs owned: 130
Brands: Brian Atwood, Christian Siriano, Christian Louboutin, Valentino, Pierre Hardy
Favorite designers: “Christian Siriano is one of my dear friends. His shoes are insane. I’m lucky [because] I have an in, so I can get his shoes from the runway. But even his collection for Payless ShoeSource is awesome. I also love Brian Atwood shoes. They’re comfortable and sexy. Brian knows how to make a shoe.”
Shoe-shopping philosophy: “I tend to gravitate toward the shoe, [rather than the label]. I don’t care if the sole is red or what it says on the bottom. They just have to be rad and comfortable.”
Memorable pair: “I grew up in Kansas City, where [trends] would arrive really late. I was always the one wearing things that were outside the box. I remember getting my first pair of Dr. Martens in lime green. They were $100, which was like $10,000 back then. I wore them every day, and my friend, who had Dr. Martens sandals, would switch with me sometimes.”
Chicago haunts: “Ikram doesn’t do a lot of shoes, but it’s the golden spot in the city. Most of my [splurging] occurs at Neiman Marcus and Barneys. Neiman just redid its shoe floor in Chicago, and it’s beautiful.”
Ultimate shoe temple: “Women buy shoes at Bergdorf [Goodman] with such a sense of urgency. I have never seen women consume shoes the way they do there. I recently saw a woman buy 27 pairs of Manolo Blahniks there. What the heck are you going to do with 27 pairs of Manolos? I’d love to see that shoe closet.”
Coveted pairs: “I have a pair that Brian Atwood signed for me, that his mom gave me for my 30th birthday. When I was filming ‘House of Consignment’ [for VH1 in 2012], Christian [Siriano] was dressing me for a gala. He gave me a pair of shoes and signed them. They’re sentimental ones that take you to a personal, happy place.”
Most comfortable pair: “I broke my pinky toe the week before [New York] Fashion Week a few years ago, and I was devastated. But Brian Atwood was in town and he fit me perfectly in this pair of shoes I could wear even with my broken toe. I wore them the whole week. I was ready to give up on going to Fashion Week, and then handsome Brian puts this pair on my feet like I’m Cinderella and I’m thinking, ‘I’m fine. I’m ready. I can do 15 hours [on my feet].’”
Trends I love to hate: “I don’t like the Birkenstock [sandal] trend and the flatform. It’s just not for me. I like a shoe you feel hot in, not like you have blocks attached to your feet.”
Heels or flats? “I’m 85 percent heels, 15 percent flats. I feel good in a heel. I feel confident to start my day and that my outfit is polished. You feel powerful in a heel — as long as you can walk, of course.”
Corri McFadden is not in Kansas anymore.