Bella McFadden dropped out of college to focus on her Depop store
If you unabashedly spend too much time pulling style inspo from Instagram, then you’ve probably seen Bella McFadden, better known in the digi-sphere as @internetgirl. Chances are she’s popped up on your Insta discover page, and as you scrolled through her page, admiring her aesthetic, you’ve mumbled to yourself, “Who is she? And where did she get that top?”
Whether playboy bunny tube tops or cherry-print dresses are more your style, Bella’s got a look for everybody to double tap.
When we last interviewed Bella in 2015, she was just a communications student who made quirky YouTube videos and wore dope eyeshadow. But in 2017 she’s more than just an Internet personality. She’s got her own successful clothing boutique on Depop, also called Internet Girl, where she sells the kinds of cool, vintage 2000s-esque clothing you’d expect from her.
We caught up with Bella about what it’s like to be a 22-year-old businesswoman, being gutsy enough to drop out of school, and how when you’re your own boss, it doesn’t mean you just get to do the fun stuff that hardly counts as work.
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It’s been a minute since we’ve talked to you Bella – two and a half years, to be exact! Back then you were still posting the occasional YouTube video. How has life changed since January 2015?
I couldn’t even begin to encapsulate how much has changed since then. I’ll attempt to summarize: I dropped out of university to dedicate every hour of my day to my passion, which is clothing.
That was a gutsy move. How did the people in your life, like your friends or family, for instance, react to that decision?
I initially dropped out of one semester, expecting to continue on to the next one. So the actually “dropping out” shock had not hit anyone close to me just yet. For the most part my family respected my decision to leave school when I did. They understand my focus is my brand, and took into account all of the success and acclaim that I’d already received. I still have plenty of family members telling me I should go back for business or marketing courses, just to have a more knowledgeable background on what I’m venturing towards.
Let’s talk about your Depop boutique, Internet Girl! What inspired you to start selling vintage clothing?
I’ve been selling vintage on and off since I was 16, and sourcing has always been my pride and joy. Sourcing is just a “professional” way to say shopping to be honest. So I channeled that passion into a career!
Personal style is an eternally evolving thing, and yours is visibly derived from the icons and culture of the ‘90s and ‘00s. Right now, Internet Girl is curated with those turn-of-the-century trends in mind. But as your own style preferences change IRL, how do those new interests affect your boutique offerings?
The curated items that I sell on my shop are based on my constantly evolving style or, simply, my daily mood. That’s the nicest part of being your own boss – it’s all in yours hands. I like to put my own modern twist on the ‘90s and ‘00s trends.
What would your dream brand/fashion house collaboration be, and why?
GUCCI! They are the only couture brand venturing outside of the norm right now.
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What’s a normal workday in the life of a 22-year-old woman running her own full-fledged vintage clothing boutique?
To be honest, the workday never stops unless I’m asleep. From the moment I wake up to the second I pass out I’m constantly active on the [Depop] app. Everything from responding to messages, scouting new models, writing captions, wrapping parcels, the responsibilities are truly endless. As much as people can say it’s a blessing to be your own boss, it takes a lot of work for this kind of artistic freedom.
You’ve stated that your mom is your biggest role model and an extremely independent woman. How did her personality and presence in your life affect your ambition when you first started selling clothes as a teen?
My mom has run her own business since before I can remember. She taught me how to hone in on your individual talent, and make it work for you. She is an interior designer, and was a self-proclaimed one prior to having a successful business. She turned moving furniture around in her family home to a full throttle independent business.
A lot of your Instagram posts subversively argue body positivity by way of boldly showcasing unconventional fashions, like jeans with holes in the butt-zone. What advice would you give to women who want to embrace their body, or maybe just a more unique sense of style, but are concerned about criticism?
Don’t give up on your vision. As a teen I was constantly criticized for dressing obscurely, and unfortunately there is absolutely no way around that judgment. I promise that you will gain a thicker skin, and the right appreciation will come your way with time!
You’ve also mentioned that you hated high school because you were judged for your appearance. How did you overcome those barriers to get where you are today – epitomizing the Cool Girl Look™ on Instagram?
As a kid, I was very caught up on the idea that high school was everything, when in reality you don’t start truly living until you are beyond that stage. I went to a very conservative high school where my creativity wasn’t celebrated. I believe that surrounding myself with the right crowd, and gaining confidence in my fashion decisions has helped me grow.
What’s next for you?
My crew and I have been working on some very exciting stuff! It’s a tiny group of us currently: my boyfriend, my assistant and me. We have a website that we’ll be launching in the fall. Our new site is going carry a combination of our original creations and new old stock from another era, a.k.a. deadstock.
On top of that we’ll be launching a capsule collection with new-vintage clothing retailer American Deadstock in October! We’ve selected a bunch of items from their unreleased inventory that ranges from the ‘80s, ‘90s and early ‘00s. It’s a new era for Internet Girl, a grown up one.
Photographer: Damian Borja