Omi

Where do you live in the city?

I’m in the Gold Coast. My fiancé Spiro and I are actually moving into our “adult” home just down the street from where I am now. I’m moving and it’s fall wardrobe season. I need boots and I’m having to buy couches!

Congratulations on your engagement. How did you meet your husband-to-be?

We actually met through my former publicist. He races cars as a hobby and had competed in a reality show on SPEED. He ended up winning and we met at his wrap party and have been together ever since.

How did he pop the question?

It was amazing. I had no idea. We had left the country for three weeks and our friend Faraone Mennella, who designed my ring, opened a new store in Capri. It was our first real vacation together. That night at the store opening I was borrowing jewelry to wear and we were walking around and he’s like, “What about this ring?” I looked down and was like, “That’s my ring!” because I requested not a single stone but just diamonds to my knuckles and I wanted to incorporate color. It’s black, white and yellow diamonds and we just ordered a pink sapphire so I can switch it on any day based on however I am feeling. I was so surprised! I knew we would get married I just didn’t think it would happen on that vacation. I was so happy I was crying.

What was going through your mind in the moment?

Prior to that we had been at the beach all day. It was our first day there and we were beat. He was like, “Maybe we should just go to the party tomorrow and skip the cocktail hour tonight,” but I was like, “No, we flew halfway around the world. We’re going!” In Capri it’s all cobblestone streets so it’s really hard to wear heels but the jewelry store was right next to the hotel so I was like, “Screw it. I’m wearing heels,” and the first thing that went through my mind when he proposed was, “I’m so glad I’m wearing heels!”

When did you know he was the one?

I knew the night he told me he was falling in love with me. I had been in a relationship prior to that and I knew what I wanted. We just clicked. We’re going to go back to Capri to get married next summer.

Before you met your fiancé, did you enjoy dating?

I didn’t date a lot because I was really busy. I’m not an easy person to date, I’m a handful! It takes a very secure man to be with someone like me and to support and embrace a woman having her own business.

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As the founder of eDrop-Off, your life revolves around pre-owned designer apparel and accessories. Have you always had in mind who you wanted to design your wedding dress?

Christian Siriano is one of my dear friends so he is doing my dress. I’m having a small wedding party of three and he is doing head-to-toe designs for my party. I just want a long 75-top table, all white florals and good food.

What is a typical day like for you?

I got up at 4:45 a.m. today for a WCIU segment that I do once a week. From there I went to a breakfast meeting at Trump and then I did a consignment pick-up for one of my clients and came into the office.

How was it starting your own company at such a young age?

I remember when we first started eDrop-Off I was 22-years-old. I had started this business plan for my graduation portfolio project and actually missed my college graduation to go to eBay Live in New Orleans to find the software to run eDrop-Off. I opened my doors October 1, 2004 and I remember being like, “Sh-t! What do I do now?” because I had no money when I did it. I took out an SBA loan and I maxed out all of my credit cards to create my own logo. At that time eBay was still very new so I wasn’t even trying to sell people on just the concept of selling for them, I was explaining what eBay was as well so it was a whole other beast! It was pre-social media. I sold everything from fly-fishing equipment to coins and electronics. You name it, I sold it like “Pawn Stars” but I knew I wanted to sell designer and luxury goods. Now we sell 2,500 unique items a week.

Can you tell us something about you that people may not know?

I graduated with $36 in my checking account. I recorded every single purchase from a Panera soup to a Chipotle taco. I moved to Chicago and I didn’t know one person when I moved here.

How did you stay fashionable when starting out with no money?

When you are on a budget you have to work within your means. When you go out of your means to buy something you associate guilt with wearing it and that takes all of the fun out of it. Why stretch yourself to where you are panicking to open up your credit card bill? That is stupid. Polish your nails. Your skin is so important. People look at your skin, your hair and your nails before anything else. Your shoes should be clean no matter what they look like. If they are clean, that’s it. People are just going to notice if you’re not taking care of yourself.

Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

As a child I saw a need for candy on the bus because we didn’t have vending machines in my junior high so I called the director of who sold the candy and organized for them to deliver me candy on a 180-day payment plan. I would sell the candy on the bus to everyone on the way home and everyday I would go through an entire case.

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VH1’s House of Consignment” brought eDrop-Off to a national audience, following you through the ups and downs of running your own business. What is it really like to be the star of your own reality show?

Crazy! It’s from the moment you get up in the morning to the time you go to bed, six days a week. We filmed for about 17 weeks but I learned so much. I went into the show thinking I was maxed out and that this was the most I could do, the most people I could manage and that I couldn’t take anything more in my day. Then suddenly you literally have another full-time job and a serious job where you have to be reporting to a network everyday that has a lot of money invested in the show. So suddenly your job that has always been your first priority becomes put on the back-burner. I really learned what I was capable of.

Do you think the way you were portrayed was true to your authentic self?

Exactly. It was like a diary. You see how reality television can be completely destructive or how it ruins marriages because it is hard and it puts pressure on you and everything is out in the open but the only reason I did the show was because I was content with that.

Is there a key to balancing it all?

I think as long as you love the person you are with and love yourself if you are by yourself, that is the most important thing. You have to love what you are doing. It’s not about money. I have been in some of the wealthiest people’s closets and there is a mix of two people; people who are amazing and happy and then those who are filling a void. I’ve always said that as long as you have a healthy balance then it all falls into place. But I’m also really good with home services. I have a home service for everything! Manicures, spray tans, hair, you name it. That’s really how I do it. I’ll get a blow out at 8 in the morning and a spray tan at 9:30 and then my trainer comes. There is a misconception about being high maintenance. Those are luxuries and I am blessed I can have them but at the end of the day that is the only way I can do it. That’s what works.

What’s next?

Well, we are growing. Right now we are at 46 employees. I soft-launched my jewelry collection and I just live day-to-day. I am very content. I obviously want to grow my business and I have big plans but I’m a self-funded company. I don’t have investors where there is this pressure on me so as long as we are enjoying our work environment and everyone is happy and we are making our overhead, awesome! We pride ourselves on being extremely innovative and doing everything in-house.

Are you in Chicago to stay?

Yes! I am not leaving. I grew up in Kansas City and I’m a Midwesterner. We are finally getting a spotlight! Our city has so much to offer. I go to New York twice a month, I can go wherever and pop in and out but this is my home and I want my kids to be raised here.

Are kids on the near horizon?

Probably within the next two years.

Well for now, your dogs are adorable.

Harley and Emma! Harley I got for college graduation. I got him two weeks before I started eDrop-Off so he’s been there every step of the way and Emma is his daughter.

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Would we ever find you just lounging around in sweatpants?

I own one pair of sweatpants. I despise working out and have had the same Hanes beater tank for like four years until finally [my trainer] Kim was like, “Corri. Seriously?” so now I have a Lululemon tank and a pair of pants.

Do you have any guilty pleasures?

I love Chili’s chips and salsa. Uncle Julio’s queso dip is insane, I get it twice a week, I’m addicted to it. I only drink white wine because I get migraines.

What is something you wish you would have known when you were just starting out?

I had a lot of sh-t days and a lot of crap situations and all I can say is the more you of them you go through, the more you grow. Failure has never been an option for me. I look back on things and I’m like, “That was nothing!” Just work through it, be as positive as you can be about it and vent however you need to vent. You have to find a release whether it’s working out or having a drink or whatever it is, you have to find a way to balance that emotion so that it doesn’t take over your day.

If you could have a drink with anyone, who would it be?

I can’t say it, I will get in trouble. Okay, I need to have a drink [and talk about some issues] with our president! That, and I would love to have a drink with Anna Wintour.

Are you passionate about politics?

I’m really into our city more so than politics. Chicago has a lot of problems and they need to be addressed. I’m in a city that I’m trying to make amazing and then I’m in New York seeing our crime reports overshadow theirs. That’s upsetting. To have 46 girls that I lecture every single day before I leave to make sure they are in flats and their bags are turned around or their jewelry isn’t showing, I don’t like that! I want help. What do we do? How do we solve this problem? It needs to come from the top and this is his hometown, so help us!

What sparked your interest in trying to make a difference in something so far from fashion?

I grew up wanting to be in the FBI. I wanted to be a cop, it’s just how my brain works. I would be the most wicked cop ever! If you look at my Facebook, my page is a mix of fashion and crime reporting. I’m not trying to ruffle anyone’s political feathers, all I want is to clean it up. This is a problem as a whole that we are all dealing with! I feel like the neighborhood cop.

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  • Liz

    This was so inspiring! I’m just starting out my own small business, and I loved hearing Corri’s story.

  • Donna Grosko

    You go girl! You definitely have the Grosko genes for business! I am so happy for you!

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Omi