2020 has been a year of trials and tribulations. Most of us were forced to sit with ourselves for hours upon hours everyday, not being able to leave the house or talk to anyone. Maddy Corbin took that time to reflect on her career, relationships, and mental health. After being a full time blogger for 4 years, she accepted a job with Trades of Hope right before the pandemic hit and it changed her life for the better. She spent the good part of the summer completely offline and is now ready to make her comeback.
Photography by Karalayne Becker
Samantha Ripperger: How has your 2020 been? Are you ready for the holidays?
Maddy Corbin: 2020 has been full of so many changes. I really try to have a positive outlook on everything. If some of the things didn’t happen in 2020, I wouldn’t be where I am and I wouldn’t change where I am now for the world. I’m definitely excited for the holidays, it’s not that different for me than the everyday other than the fact that now I have my own place, so I’m just going to be seeing my immediate family. We’re trying to keep everyone safe so we won’t do anything too crazy.
SR: A big part of your 2020 was moving into your own place? What was that process like?
MC: I’ve been back and forth about getting my own place for a couple of years. With my first few years of full time blogging, I didn’t have consistent income. So I was a little worrisome about doing it, and I didn’t have to. My parents were very supportive of me living at home and they’ve always helped me in anyway with my businesses and such. When I got my Trades of Hope position in March and I started to have more consistent income, I decided to start looking. I went through a breakup in April and I kinda realized that every aspect of my life at the time was not where I wanted it to be. So I said ‘Let’s just change it all up.’ I’m only 5 minutes away from my parents house so it was a super easy move. Moving in a pandemic with the rising numbers was definitely interesting. I had to have a quite a few people in my home that I didn’t know so that was a bit trying on my anxiety. Now that I’m here, and I’m slowly getting situated, I’m happy.
SR: You took a break from social media and blogging for a good 3 months this summer. Was it meant to be a hiatus? What was the reason?
MC: There was a lot going on at the time with the virus, BLM, all of these things. I felt like I was beginning this transition and my mental space and my social media was not where I thought it should be. I wasn’t able to show up for my audience the way that I wanted to. I had never taken a break. I had never logged out in how ever many years I’ve had the account. I thought it was a really good decision because then I got to fully dive into my Trades of Hope position. It was a good decision looking back. So I wasn’t posting as much on my personal page and it was hard at first because I wanted to know what was happening, but then a week went by and I stopped thinking about it. I was 100% living for myself. I didn’t do something just to post about it. It was a magical three months.
I also went through a really bad psoriasis breakout and I knew I had to dedicate that time to my health. I needed to dedicate time to me and not my audience. Coming back I was very nervous. I had to think about it strategically. I didn’t want to be where I was with social media beforehand, which was posting constantly. My ex helped with photography and project management, my brother did video editing, and now I basically have to do it all on my own. I interviewed a few photographers and Laney was one I interviewed and she’s the only one I work with now. She’s amazing. We shoot a bunch of content at once so I can have two weeks to post and not have to shoot.
SR: From a career standpoint with working in this industry for 4 years now and being glued to your phone and social media, do you think brands look at you or someone negatively for taking a short hiatus or break from social media?
MC: It’s funny because one of the founders of Trades of Hope when it was the first week of me stopping my blog stuff (she had hired me on because she was a follower of mine, she saw that I was looking for a job, and pitched me the position), we were on a zoom meeting and she said “I have no idea what’s going on with you. I normally know everything that’s happening in your life. You’re kind of like a ninja right now, nobody knows what you’re doing.” I was like “I love it!” I’m just doing me. I’m working at Trades of Hope and I’m just living and it was amazing. That first week was very very hard. I felt like I was having withdrawal symptoms. I did use my personal account during my hiatus but kept it under 300 followers. That time for me was when I made all of these decisions. I needed to stop and realize what I really wanted. When you take those breaks and you’re forced to sit with yourself, your thoughts and emotions, a lot of clarity comes out of it. I do think it is important. I think it is different when you represent a brand, though because you still have to show up for them. It’s your job.
SR: I feel like your rebrand is more grown up. It’s sophisticated but also moody. What made you want to take it in this direction?
MC: During my time away I was super into the editorial style which isn’t necessarily everyday wear. One of the looks I posted was a corset top and someone commented saying “I would never wear a corset top” and I said “I know but it’s art, and it’s beautiful and I love it!” I’ve definitely pushed myself with my style now and I’m doing what I really wanted to do. It’s a risk. I think beforehand I was always trying to wear or post about a style that was trending, or things I knew people would like and then I came back and said I want to do this for me. If I don’t get paid for it, oh well, but this is how I want to show up on social media. I’m not as consistent now. I’m not showing up everyday like I was before, but I’m also a shit ton happier.
SR: What are you wanting for your website in 2021?
MC: I’m wishing to be more consistent. Right now my goal is to show up on Instagram for a few posts but I definitely would love to be more consistent on the blog. I would love to get one or maybe two more people on my team because I know if I had them I could be more consistent with my blog. There’s a lot of bigger brands that I would love to work with and create content for. Other than that, the blog is just going to be me and whatever I’m feeling at the time. It gets to grow with me!
SR: Is there a dream brand you would love to work with?
MC: I definitely want to work with at least one higher fashion brand or designer. In the past I’ve worked with Coach but that was in 2017. All of the brands I’ve worked with have been amazing but I would love to work with Kate Spade, something a bit more boujie!
SR: I feel like Chloe would fit well with your aesthetic.
MC: Any of them! I have Laney on speed dial. We’re ready!
SR: This year you’ve also teamed up with more local Indy photographers. What’s that experience been like? Are there any photographers you would love to collaborate with?
MC: I think a lot of the photographers I want to collaborate with are in different states. There’s a lot in New York that I love. In the past, I’ve worked with different photographers, but then when my ex and I were working together, he just shot everything for me. I felt like I kind of just got the same style and everything kept getting vanilla because it was super easy. But when you work with these photographers that pour everything into it, they come with their own side of creativity. It’s absolutely mind blowing. I was nervous and excited because I had worked with the same person for so long and it had been 8 months since I had done a legit shoot. It’s been amazing working with Laney! I’ve definitely attracted new kinds of brands with this style and these kinds of photos. Even Laney has gotten some jobs because of my posting and brands are also reaching out to her. I’ve even had big brands like Levi’s ask to use some of our photos. I’ve worked with several in the past, but Laney and I clicked and I don’t know what I’d do without her.
SR: Would you consider yourself an influencer? How has the word ‘influencer’ changed since you started blogging in 2017?
MC: What I think about social media is everybody is an influencer! You’re influencing somebody when you post something, whether it’s positive or negative, you have one follower or 1,000 followers, and that’s the beauty of social media. So yes I would say that I’m an influencer but I would also say Joe on the street with the one follower is an influencer as well. Right now, my goal is to just influence through fashion and cool posts, and being honest about taking a break, and being honest about my skin. I will show up for you, it’s not going to be consistent, but it’ll be me. That’s something that’s lacked in the influencer space. Once you get in, you just do what you know will do well, sell, get you brand deals, because it is a job and a business. Now that I’m at a place where I have a job and consistent income, I have the opportunity to do this my way. I have actually lost thousands of followers since I’ve come back. I have 52,000 and I had 58,000 at one point. It doesn’t bother me now. I had a huge style switch; I know that’s not going to be everyone’s style. I know these editorial pieces aren’t for everyone. But I’m also doing it in my way and to be a successful influencer, you have to. You have to just show up and do what’s best for yourself and that’s not going to please everybody.
SR: How has working with Trades of Hope been? How have your entrepreneurial experiences prepared you for this role?
MC: I started contracting with them in beginning of March with 25 hours a week and at the time I was still kind of showing up on my personal page. Then as I started growing with the Trades of Hope team, they started giving me more responsibility, and soon I was up to 30 hours a week. That’s when I started to take my hiatus from my personal page. Now I am working 40 hours a week and I get to make my own schedule. The team’s in Florida and my boss is in DC, so I am pretty much on my own. Working by myself all these years completely prepared me for this. I know how to make a schedule that works for me, I get my work done regardless if someone tells me or not, and it’s definitely a very independent role. It’s also a different role than they’ve had in the past. They’ve had team members help out with social media but haven’t brought on someone who does it for a living. It was different for me too because I’ve never done social media and marketing for a brand. I have learned so much about social media marketing along the way.
SR: Where do you hope to see yourself in 5-10 years?
MC: My goal with Trades of Hope is to be able to scale where we can have a whole social media/marketing team. I also want to see the blog grow, do some New York Fashion Week stuff and get bigger brand deals. Definitely in the next 5 years I want to have a house. I don’t want to take all my money I own and throw it into rent.
SR: Ok can we please talk about Finn, your new puppy?! He’s so freakin’ cute!
MC: I always said when I moved out I would get a dog. We have two Havanese at my parents’ house. We got them 4 years ago and that’s the first time I’ve ever had a dog because my brother and I are technically allergic. My parents’ dogs will lick me and I’ll get hives. I don’t get hives from Finn yet, so hopefully we’re good there. I actually got Finn two days after I moved into my apartment. I knew I was going to get a dog, I just didn’t think it would be that fast. There are some days where I’m really tired and think why did I do this?! But then thinking about being in this new place alone makes me realize I’m so glad that I do have him. It was spur of the moment. Everyone thought I was crazy, and some days I feel like I am too!
SR: I don’t think you’re crazy! I think you know how to end 2020 with a bang!