Madison Sinclair’s life rapidly changed when TikTok turned an inside joke into a full-fledged business. BUGGIRL200 is now famous for their novelty, ironic t-shirts and accessories.
Cooglife chatted with Sinclair about the process of transforming from UH student to successful business owner and the journey of building her brand, which has garnered attention from The New York Times and Olivia Rodrigo.
“I’m a big advocate for forcing everybody to get on TikTok now because it’s so bizarre in who it randomly chooses to blow up, and it can be anyone, “ Sinclair said. “Surely I would not be in any of the same space I’m in right now if I wouldn’t have posted that one stupid video.”
It wasn’t until the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when Sinclair first watched the “Twilight” franchise, later deciding to make a shirt for her and her friend and show it off on TikTok. People quickly became obsessed and Sinclair continued to produce shirts, later realizing she had a potential business on her hands.
“I just want to make this so terrible that she won’t want to wear it out and I’ll bully her into wearing it out, you know, but like, that kind of turned into like the entire brand of what I do now,” Sinclair said when asked about what inspired her first shirt
Stumbling into something big
With no prior business experience, Sinclair was quickly thrown into a world she knew little about. Through Google, YouTube and random tips she picked up from her UH classes, Sinclair has been able to grow her business into something recognizable and keep customers happy.
“It was a big change to go from being a normal college student with just those responsibilities and those schedules and everything to the switch of I am in charge of all of this and it’s kind of working but it also could stop working at any minute and I don’t have a backup plan,” Sinclair said.
Balancing a business on top of mental health has been tricky for Sinclair. Since starting her business, she has learned how to better manage professional fears and not let them impact her daily life.
“Just the little self-doubt things where nothing ever happens that’s that bad but I think, just the hardest part has been I think controlling my brain to not be so stressed out and anxious all the time, and also self-hating,” Sinclair stated.
After recently beginning to learn to use Adobe products and computer techniques, Sinclair noted that the skills will be beneficial to have, even if she eventually chooses to go into another field.
Since BUGGIRL200’s creation, it has grown from Sinclair and her best friend selling hand-printed clothes on Depop to a business currently using Shopify, a shipping and printing company, in addition to limited-edition hand-printed shirts.
“I definitely have had to learn how to keep things at the right quantities to where I know I can get everything done in a timely manner,” Sinclair said.
Advice for prospective entrepreneurs
If wanting to start your own business, not waiting is key, according to Sinclair. While it’s easy to become discouraged, Sinclair states how she managed to succeed and how everyone has it in them.
“Everything is going to be so new, you cannot prepare for any of it. So just start and pick up the pieces on the way and just learn along the way,” Sinclair said.
As for future plans, Sinclair hopes to dabble in cut and sew patterns, where she could produce her own sustainable blanks and add colorful stitching. Sinclair eventually wants to work up to producing a full range of clothing, including pants, skirts and dresses.
“If I would have written down like ‘okay, I want to start a “Twilight” novelty ironic t-shirt business, these are the steps I have to take,’ immediately I would have been like, ‘I cannot do that, that will not happen,’” Sinclair said.