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.”