Nasty Gal's Sophia Amoruso on Being a #GIRLBOSS
by erin magner
Online retail megamogul Sophia Amoruso of Nasty Gal segues from ready-to-wear to must-read with a new book this month.
Online fashion honcho Sophia Amoruso is spilling her secrets to dot-com success in a hot-off-thepresses memoir (INSET).
On the inside of her right arm, Sophia Amoruso has a tattoo that reads “1%.” It doesn’t mean what you think it would, given that she’s the founder, CEO, and creative director of Nasty Gal, the fastest-growing US retailer of 2012, according to Inc. magazine (not to mention the most lusted-after fashion brand today among 20-something trendsetters). Rather, as the 30-year-old tech marvel explains in her just-debuted book, #GIRLBOSS, this particular bit of ink pays homage to a group of outlaw bikers who exist on the fringes of society—an ethos that resonates with Amoruso, whose ascent to the top was paved with fast-food jobs, anticapitalist leanings, and dumpster-scrounged breakfasts rather than Ivy League degrees and deans’ lists.
Hers is a story that makes business editors drool, and in fact, it’s been told countless times in recent years. (The short version: After dropping out of community college, the Sacramento native started an eBay vintage store—then, through savvy social media marketing, personalized service, and an eye for what’s next, grew it into a $100 million business.)
But these reports have never truly told all, which is why Amoruso was inspired to turn her legendary tale into a book. “There’s so much that made me capable of achieving what I have, and I wanted to be able to control that story and tell it completely in my own voice,” says Amoruso, who, with micro bangs, perpetually red lips, and an enviable arsenal of platform shoes rivaled only by funk singer Betty Davis (whose 1975 Nasty Gal album inspired the site’s name), is a natural poster child for her brand’s achingly cool fan base. “If you look at my Instagram page, the responses always [include comments like,] ‘I want to do what you’ve done!’ These girls want to kick ass and accomplish great things, and I think I can help with this book.”
Part memoir, part career handbook, #GIRLBOSS sprinkles Amoruso’s story with business tips for the digital age, from online networking to dealing with investors. “Technology has given people a platform to become entrepreneurs in a way that wouldn’t have been possible in the past,” says the author, who originally recruited her rabid customer base using MySpace. She also affirms that her story has a feminist element—even though, as the head of a largely female-driven empire, she admits she hasn’t had to deal with much discrimination in the workplace. “If I can be a beacon of hope for women to branch out, do their own thing, and not take shit from anyone, I’m happy to be that,” she says.
Clearly, there’s some magic to the Amoruso method. In the past year, Nasty Gal has launched its own private-label fashion line and moved its 200 SoCal employees into a new 50,000-square-foot Barbara Bestor–designed HQ in DTLA. And before 2014 is out, Amoruso has plans to open the label’s first brick-and-mortar shop in LA (“I’m excited about the ways we can bring technology into the stores,” she says). In other words, the kind of achievements that 1% dreams are made of.
photography by samantha casolari (amoruso)
Cover shoot: September 2014 issue of Los Angeles Confidential magazine.