There’s no question, deployments are a taxing and frustrating part of military life. “Stay busy,” friends and family urge. “Take on a project,” they say. A Florida DIY TikTok sensation took that advice to heart, using the year her Army Reserve husband was deployed to transform her house and her life as she gained more than 5 million followers along the way.
Cori Bosco’s husband, Vinny Bosco, served in the Army before they met and transitioned out of service to work for the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office. In 2019, he enlisted in the Army Reserve in the Criminal Investigation Division.
The same year, the couple bought a fixer-upper house in Daytona Beach with plans to renovate it. While working on DIY projects during the COVID-19 lockdown, their children brought up a new social media app called TikTok.
The unexpected viral video
“I thought it was just a dancing app, but then I saw people posting about their houses, so I was like, ‘Oh, I’m going to try this,’” Cori said. Her first video, simply showcasing a room in their home and an outdoor view of the Florida Intracoastal Waterway, racked up more than 2 million views.
It wouldn’t be fair to call her early success beginner’s luck. While working as a full-time teacher, she spent her free time fixing up and flipping houses.
When the internet got a glimpse at her DIY skills, they couldn’t get enough. She continued posting short videos about projects she had completed around the house and products she liked from Amazon. In six months, she amassed 500,000 followers on her account, @EastCoastDIY.
The news that changed her life
Up until then, she’d completed most projects with the help of her husband. The pair had earned a spot in Jeffrey Court Tile’s Renovation Challenge, a contest where 12 DIY designers have six weeks to renovate a room in their home. But the thrill of being accepted into the competition was short-lived when the pair got unexpected news. The Army Reserve activated Vinny for a yearlong deployment to Washington D.C. due to unrest at the Capitol.
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Cori considered dropping out of the competition, nervous about competing while working a full-time job and managing four children. But, she decided to rise to the challenge and document the entire process on TikTok.
“I was showing women that they can do it too, whether their spouses are in the military or whatnot,” she said. “You don’t have to rely on anyone else to help.”
Setting a goal for her husband’s return
After completing the contest, she wasn’t ready to stop renovating. Cori dreamt up a plan to surprise Vinny with a completely remodeled home when he returned.
“My followers just fell in love with it,” remembered Cori, who grew her TikTok platform to more than 5 million followers during his deployment.
Her mission went viral, and both the Rachael Ray and Drew Barrymore talk shows invited her to appear on national television. The attention fueled her motivation to work harder.
“After (the kids) went to bed, I would stay up until like 2 a.m. to be able to get a few hours of construction in and then still try to record it, edit the videos and make it seem like that was what I was doing all day long,” she said. “So it was definitely tiring. I look back at it now, and I’m like, “How did I even do that?”
While the Army had banned soldiers from using TikTok on government phones due to possible security risks, her success was eventually leaked to her husband.
“So I then had to make a phone call,” laughed Vinny. “She’s like, ‘You gotta be kidding me. I’ve been busting my butt.’ I saw everything that she had going on.”
When he finally came home and saw it in person on Valentine’s Day, Cori shared his reaction with the millions of followers she’d gained.
“He just kept saying, ‘Oh my gosh, you did so good.” He was just so proud of my work,” she said. “All these projects definitely kept me super busy, where really it didn’t feel like a year that he had been gone.”
A DIY six-figure career
Vinny didn’t just return to a newly remodeled home. By the time his yearlong deployment was over, Cori had left her full-time job as a teacher to become a content creator. As a teacher, she earned about $50,000 a year, and she now brings in about $40,000 a month creating content for TikTok, Instagram and Youtube. Most of her income comes from brand sponsorships.
“Our life completely changed now because of this,” Vinny said. “We were living simple lives for the most part, and then all of this. So we’re just trying to navigate and kind of see what’s next and all that type of stuff.”
Cori believes a career in social media could be ideal for many military spouses. However, she pressed that the job requires a lot of work, admitting that she now works 24/7 to complete DIY projects, film and edit the process and maintain engagement with her followers.
“It would be much easier if I could just dance and do a video,” she joked. “It takes a lot of consistency to be able to post and be successful on social media. So if you’re not passionate about what you’re posting about whatever your niche is, it will be short-lived.”
While Cori first took on the DIY project to survive a deployment without her husband, the risk helped her achieve her dreams.
“I became a teacher to inspire kids and motivate kids, but to be able to have this like, channel and outlet and mode to millions of people is on a different level,” she said. “I really enjoy doing it.”