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From the 10 year old girl with an unstoppable business plan assembled for her “kids news” WordPress blog,
to countless preteen hours spent working to comprehend <head> vs </head>,
to the owner of a fast growing small business as a Junior in high school, Luxury 45,
to the owner of the photography and design LLC Wisconsin & Gold, which has grown into today’s work running a self-branded empire,
meet Maddy Corbin.
City where you’re from: Fishers, Indiana
Hobbies: photography, design projects, calligraphy, blogging, and meet-ups
Favorite quote: “In the world through which I travel, I am endlessly creating myself.” – Frantz Fanon
Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?
My first step into entrepreneurship was my junior year of high school. Struck with frustration mixing autoimmune skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema mixed with body care products, I formed Luxury 45 and organic and homemade bath and body products business for individuals with hypersensitive skin. This blew up in ways I never saw coming. I had a feature on RTV6 and Huffington Post picked up another one of my interviews. I had products for sale in 3 local stores throughout Indianapolis and it really begun to change my small community’s thoughts on skin care. This kind of started a whirlwind in me, I love the thrill of entrepreneurship and the challenges by going home from high school classes and filing business taxes and making sure everything was up and running smoothly. From there I formed Wisconsin & Gold LLC, my photography and design brand that got me through my senior year of high school.
Who were your biggest influences? Was there a defining moment in your life?
In high school my biggest influence was Sophia Amoruso. She is the CEO of Nasty Gal and Founder of Girl Boss. I think my biggest “defining moment” with her was when I realized that she wasn’t handed where she was today, matter of fact, she has a pretty bad childhood but had something in her to become something bigger than that. It made me realize that I could really do anything I set my mind to no matter where I came from, (as I finished that book, sitting alone at my high school lunch table). Her story gave me the comfort and confidence that I could really do this entrepreneurship thing
What are you working on? How did you come up with this idea?
Currently, I am working on building, in retrospect, a self branding empire. I am a social influencer, who works with companies across the nation from Indianapolis to supply them with tags to my audience and content that they can then utilize as back-pocket content for themselves. Although I realized that to turn my name “Maddy Corbin” into its own brand/business (not just a photographer, not just a designer, or even just a social influencer) that I couldn’t do it alone. Enter phase 2 of self-branding: I have started a project where I pull in creative individuals from my area (and surrounding areas when I travel) and put them on my collaboration projects with me. In the end, getting to have more creative minds on one concept is giving even more awesome content to these awesome brands.
I came up with this idea when I finally learned to be able to say that “I can’t do everything and that’s okay” to get big, to be able to do what I do full-time I need to be able to utilizing individuals from all over, whether they work in a creative industry, or just want a creative outlet, to help me and pick their brain.
This will also transition into full-blown small business and self branding workshops. This will be online in and (hopefully) available with travel combined with one-on-one consultations.
Basically, I am taking a bunch of crap that I am passionate about, combining with a full-circle or exposure between brand and influencers and getting it to make sense under one brand, Maddy Corbin.
How is your brand different and unique? What has been your favorite moment with it? What’s the vision?
My brand is unique simply because I look at posting about a brand on Instagram or on the blog as a bigger picture. I integrate everything into my everyday life and have a goal of just trying to better myself and my community, not money.
My favorite moment was when I launched maddycorbin.com and did my first blog post, called “So What Exactly Do You Do” because it is a question I get asked daily and because of this, is became my least favorite question. I thought that utilizing that post as a content-holder to push the individuals that ask me would make answering emails and DM’s easier, but then I saw my traffic skyrocket, the website almost crashed because everyone was going to it. It was the moment that I realized I had a real audience that was truly interested in what I putting out there, and that this concept of self branding could really work.
If you do IG ads, what types of creatives/campaigns do you use? If you don’t, what untapped marketing channels do you take advantage of?
I have yet to use any ads, other than the paid content collaborations that I label with #ad because I am still so small, I try to stay personable until I pull on the large groups. Untapped markets I simply engage. You have no idea the wonders that you get back when you engage with people in your industry, the customers of individuals in your industry, or even people that you think would be interested in your content. I always say, “you give love, you get love”.
Did you experience failure along the way? What did you learn from it?
Failure is not only my middle name but my best friend. I love failures because they keep me in line and help me stay in the mindset of the vision. People who are afraid to fail, (or “never” fail aren’t learning anything in the world of entrepreneurship. You will learn more in one self-educated failure than you will in an entire year of a college class.
Give the readers the best entrepreneurship advice you have.
STOP CONSUMING AND START EXECUTING. Stop saying you will, go and do it. Put down the books that are teaching you what to do and get out there and figure it out yourself. Do it, fail, learn from it, repeat. EVERYDAY.
Teach us something about social media management. Can you recommend any favorite websites to learn that topic?
To run a successful social media account, on average, it is good to have a engagement rate of 20%. I’m pretty picky on where to get information on getting more Instagram followers or engagement, as I said in my latest blog post: “Close The Book That Teaches You Social Media” but I think this diagram is a great representation
While working on your project, have you come across any interesting bit of knowledge that you’d like to share? (i.e. any new research finding, any new platforms, some novel management technique, etc)
No matter what field you are in, being a young entrepreneur, businesses will try to scam you or get around business easier. While this is not new bits of knowledge everyone should know that you can push back just as aggressively. If you decide to start doing collaboration projects with brands on a paid consensus, and they say “…we don’t actually have any money at this time to put toward this campaign, but would be happy to send you a product”, as nice as this is, you can happily decline, “..unfortunately at this time, all collaboration requests have to go through my media kit terms and packages, let me know if you would like to work together in the future”. You have no idea how many times I end up being turned around doing more work than I would have been paid for, all for free. It took me a few times to realize that at the end of the day you are the influencer and you are the one benefitting the brand. You may be young but never be afraid to stand up for the awesome work you know you are going to provide.
What daily habits do you have that allow you to perform at your peak?
I start everyday, no matter what, with a to-do list. It helps me stay focused throughout the day having laid out goals and creates a burning fire competition with myself to get stuff done, and if for some reason I don’t, it is #1 on the next day’s list.
What should an entrepreneur focus on?
At the end of the day, your main goal should always focusing arounding becoming a better version of yourself.
Walk us step-by-step through the process that you had to go through to get from the early stages to where you are today.
Passion. Patience. Persistence. It’s really that simple. Each and every day I wake up and I work until I can’t anymore. I am always passionate about what I do to its full extent and I wouldn’t trade the work I do, even if it kills me. Patience. You’re not going to wake up famous, or an expert or rich or whatever your goals is, you have to be patient. Persistence. I’m 19 and have never and will never have the “college experience” and I am more than happy to admit that. I put everything into my work, I’m persistent and I wouldn’t be where I am without that.
What are some of your favorite books?
GirlBoss, The Four Agreements, and Leading Women.
Where do you see yourself and your product in a couple years?
Traveling, talking about the world of small business and self branding, getting large groups of creatives together for collaborations and building a stronger brand around what I love to do.