Con­fes­sions of a Lawrence Park shop­ping ex­pert

In­sta­gram star Bella McFad­den shares how she makes a living off her pas­sion for cloth­ing

North Toronto Post - - Currents - By Ju­lia Mas­troianni

Bella McFad­den, young en­tre­pre­neur and busi­ness owner, has man­aged the im­pos­si­ble — she gets to shop for a living.

“When I was a kid, I was so hard on my mom be­cause I al­ways wanted to go shop­ping. I said to my­self, ‘I need to find an in­dus­try where I can make money on that.’”

McFad­den says she got into thrift­ing to sus­tain her own wardrobe early on in high school at Lawrence Park Col­le­giate, a time when she didn’t have much dis­pos­able in­come. She re­al­ized around Grade 11 that peo­ple loved the clothes she was wear­ing.

“They would al­ways ask me where I bought it and if they could buy it from me, so I re­al­ized I could cap­i­tal­ize on this,” she says.

It was then that McFad­den started her first brand, cheek­ily ti­tled Wor­ship the Fallen with the ini­tials WTF. She would go shop­ping in thrift stores, search­ing for clothes that fit a par­tic­u­lar style and would style them and post pho­tos to sell her wares.

Search­ing her cur­rent brand, @in­ter­net­girl on both In­sta­gram and De­pop (an online app pri­mar­ily used to buy and sell vin­tage and used clothes and accessories), her style is cer­tainly dis­tinc­tive but ul­ti­mately hard to pin down.

“I’m def­i­nitely in­spired by a bunch of dif­fer­ent sub-gen­res and sub­cul­tures; a lot of late ’90s cult films and just the late ’90s era, and I like the Y2K era of fashion,” McFad­den says of her brand’s style.

But this wasn’t al­ways McFad­den’s plan when she started sell­ing clothes in high school. Af­ter grad­u­at­ing, she went off to Con­cor­dia Uni­ver­sity and she didn’t have time to be run­ning a busi­ness, so it be­came more of a side job.

How­ever, when taking a men­tal health break from school in her third year, McFad­den ended up never re­turn­ing, de­cid­ing in­stead to fo­cus on ex­pand­ing her busi­ness on De­pop.

Now, her per­sonal brand has be­come her full-time job, or more than full-time. “I work 24/7 to be hon­est,” she says.

Through­out the week, McFad­den and her as­sis­tant will spend all day wrap­ping pack­ages, shoot­ing new prod­uct for De­pop, mak­ing ship­ping la­bels and, re­cently, shoot­ing YouTube videos on a spe­cific look­book or style from her prod­ucts.

Al­though McFad­den isn’t the only one sell­ing cu­rated vin­tage wear online, she sees her brand as unique be­cause of the re­la­tion­ship she can build with her cus­tomers.

“It’s sort of like pur­chas­ing off some­body’s In­sta­gram pro­file. Peo­ple will mes­sage me with any ques­tions they have about my prod­uct, and they can talk to me di­rectly.”

McFad­den also un­der­stands that the point of thrifted goods is the ad­van­tage of low prices and reusing items, so she works to keep her prices af­ford­able.

“What I’m do­ing is sus­tain­able be­cause I’m mov­ing this prod­uct in­stead of it go­ing into land­fills.”

She es­ti­mates her cus­tomers are gen­er­ally around ages 15 to 24, a group she says doesn’t al­ways have a lot of dis­pos­able in­come, so she works to make her prod­uct — what she de­scribes as mostly vin­tage finds and old mall­wear — ap­peal­ing to her au­di­ence. Most of the items on her De­pop ac­count range from $10 to $60, de­pend­ing on the item and the la­bel.

McFad­den’s cur­rent fo­cus is ex­pand­ing into man­u­fac­tur­ing her own de­signs.

“I have so many de­signs and I’m so ex­cited about cre­at­ing them. I’ve been cu­rat­ing my style based on vin­tage wear, and now I’ll be able to use my own line.”

McFad­den uses In­sta­gram and the De­pop app to sell her vin­tage finds

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