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How This Social Media Star Is Challenging Capitalism With Her Clothing Brand

Her clothing brand, born in 2014 from a 300-square-foot apartment, became her way of navigating the chaos of capitalism.
Cover Image Source: Madeline Pendleton | Instagram
Cover Image Source: Madeline Pendleton | Instagram

Madeline Pendleton, a familiar face on TikTok with a whopping 1.7 million followers, had a bit of a rough start growing up in Fresno, California. She was fed a fib that said Fresno was a terrible place, like a deep dark hole, and the only way to live a good life was to escape. Turns out, that wasn't entirely true.

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A post shared by Madeline Pendleton (@madelinependleton)


In her new book, "I Survived Capitalism and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt" that hit the shelves on January 16, 2024 via Doubleday, she spills the beans on her life journey–from being a struggling kid in Fresno to an art school student in San Francisco and later trying to make it in Los Angeles. It's not just a regular book; it's part financial guide, part personal story, all rolled into one.

Madeline's life had its fair share of ups and downs, including some pretty tough times like her boyfriend tragically taking his own life. It hit her hard, making it nearly impossible for her to keep up the freelance work that was paying the bills. She was living day by day, dollar by dollar. Amid this storm, she found a new focus–Tunnel Vision Clothing. This clothing brand, born in 2014 from a 300-square-foot apartment, became her way of navigating the chaos of capitalism. Sure, she was only making $20 or $30 at a time, but the business was growing.

Picture this: Orders getting packed on a table squeezed into a corner, and shipping materials hiding out in the oven. It wasn't a glamorous setup, but it was her way of making it through. Tunnel Vision isn't just a clothing company; it's a memento, a joke even. "I survived capitalism, and all I got was this lousy T-shirt company," she chuckles.

What makes Tunnel Vision stand out is not just the cool clothes but the principles it operates on. It's like a rebel in the business world, going against the usual capitalist norms. Tunnel Vision sells vintage clothing and designs its stuff, all made in small batches without supporting sweatshops. And every employee, including Madeline, gets the same pay, no matter their job. They have paid time off, flexible working conditions, and trust among team members. Madeline firmly believes that she doesn't work harder than her colleagues.

Image Source: shoptunnelvision Instagram
Image Source: shoptunnelvision Instagram

Before you think Madeline is some financial guru or a superhero, she wants you to know she's just a regular person. She's been through the wringer like many others–tricked by a for-profit university, struggling after the big recession, and pulling long hours for bosses who treated her like a disposable napkin. Her book is a reflection of these experiences like casual chats with friends about basic stuff, such as figuring out how much to spend on groceries.

Madeline is clear that she isn't some "pulled-up-by-the-bootstraps" success story. Poverty, she says, is often a result of decisions made by those in power, and people have every right to feel frustrated. The system, she's learned, doesn't care about regular folks. Despite all the chaos, she believes there are ways to improve your quality of life that don't necessarily involve stacks of cash.

Image Source: Tunnel Vision Website
Image Source: Tunnel Vision Website

So, if you're someone who hasn't had these kinds of conversations about life and money, her book can be a starting point, a basic guide. It's not about getting rich quick; it's about surviving and finding ways to make life a bit better, step by step. Madeline wants you to know there's hope, even if the system seems stacked against you. After all, she's been there and done that–surviving capitalism and all.