If the name Sophia Amoruso doesn’t ring a bell, then you should check her out. She is every Boss Girls dream. She is the embodiment of #BossGoals. Creator of Nasty Gal and author of #GirlBoss, she is the example of following your dreams and never giving up. In fact, she’s so great that Netflix did an original series on her called, you guessed it, GirlBoss. But how did it all start? How did she go from nothing to having a net worth of over $5 million? After a LOT of research and a bit of investigating, we finally got the facts straight on her story. So, all Boss Ladies out there wondering how the Queen of Boss Girls made it so big, keep reading!
Born in San Diego in 1984, Sophia was diagnosed with depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) during her teenage years. This let her drop out of high school and be homeschooled. Shortly after, her parents divorced which caused her to move to Sacramento, California. She led a somewhat nomadic lifestyle during her young adult life and eventually found her way to San Francisco.
The Creation of Nasty Gal
Always a lover of vintage clothes and having an eye for finding original one of kind pieces, at age 22 she started an eBay online store called Nasty Gal Vintage. She saw a lot of people who were buying vintage clothes and selling them online. They were making hundreds and sometimes thousands in profit. So why not do it herself? Convinced she could do a better job than those who were already selling vintage clothes, she founded Nasty Gal Vintage. While she was “dumpster living” at the time, she was able to create what would soon be a Fashion Empire. Her eBay online store solely consisted of goodwill store finds. At one point she even sold a Chanel jacket which she purchased for $8 and sold for over $1,000.
After leaving EBay for what is today still unclear (some say she was banned for promoting her own website while others say that EBay did nothing to help buyers from negative reviews being published online), Sophia launched her own retail website called Nasty Gal.
The Rise of Nasty Gal
Through Social Media, Nasty Gal created a large following. Sales quickly went up from $223,000 in 2008 to almost up to $23 million in 2011. To say that sales sky rocketed is an understatement. Sophia Amoruso quickly became the brand behind Nasty Gal. Everyone was dying to get their hands on the merchandise of this young girl who was quickly rising as one of the most popular Self-Made Bosses. Named on the “Top 30 under 30” in Inc. Magazine, things were looking up for Sophia. Forbes even called her the “Fashion’s New Phenom” in 2012 and included her in their list of “America’s Richest Self-Made Women”. In 2014, she wrote an autobiography titled #Girlboss which quickly made it to the Best Seller list. In 2016, Netflix announced that they would be doing a TV series on her life called Girlboss.
Not so bad for a college drop-out who managed to launch a multimillion-dollar company within just a few years. Things could only go up from there, right? Wrong.
The Fall of Nasty Gal
In 2015, things started to go downhill for Nasty Gal and for its creator, Sophia Amoruso. In January 2015, Sophia announced that she was stepping down as CEO of Nasty Gal. She realized that she wasn’t built to be a CEO, at least not for Nasty Gal. Amoruso mentioned in several interviews since then that she was a “young and naïve founder”. She made mistakes. She hired the wrong team and let them make important decisions. Sophia also realized that being a CEO is not as fun as people think it is. In an interview with Recode, she opens up about the challenges of her first experience as being CEO:
“I was a young, naïve founder,” Amoruso said. “I think I thought I could hire C-level executives who would just write their job descriptions for themselves, hold themselves accountable. At the end of the day, I think scientifically we’ve proven that an observed object behaves differently than when it’s not observed.”
In another interview with Forbes, Sophia opens up about how Nasty Gal was rising so high that they were getting investors from left and right. Word was spreading that the company was rising and was estimated to be making sales of well over $300 million, so everyone wanted in. Suffice to say that Sophia was feeling overwhelmed with her new responsibilities.
A little over a year after Sophia stepped down as CEO, Nasty Gal announced it was filing for bankruptcy. While it came to a shock to everyone, it wasn’t much of a surprise to Sophia since she knew the company was suffering. It was growing too big too fast. Sales were going down since the new CEO took charge after Sophia and expenses for brand promotion were up. The company was having trouble to make ends meet. So when in November 2016 Nasty Gal filed for bankruptcy, Sophia was prepared.
Life After Nasty Gal
A true boss is how she rises up after failing. While most would say that it must have been horrible for Sophia to have her first company go bankrupt, Sophia thinks otherwise. Yes, the company did fail. However, for someone who didn’t even finish college and was “dumpster living”, she did pretty well. She managed to create a multimillion dollar company and made it to the Forbes list of successful entrepreneurs. So instead of seeing it as a failure, Sophia sees it as a success story. Even though it didn’t have the happy ending that she would wish it did, it’s still a success in its own way.
So what is the mastermind behind Nasty Gal up to today? Well for starters, she’s not letting criticism or negative judgments get to her. Shortly after Nasty Gal filed for bankruptcy, Sophia started getting criticized. How could she abandon ship when she knew the company was suffering? A true captain and boss stay with the ship even though it’s sinking. Others also said that she was prioritizing her brand over the company she built. But she’s not letting those negative comments get to her.
Her new company, Girlboss is doing extremely well. It’s a media company that focusses on creating a community for women that focusses on redefining success. Their foundation has already raised more than $100,000 in grants for women who are working in fashion, design, music, and arts.
Moral of the Story
So what’s the moral of the story? Basically, it’s to never give up. Even if you create a company and it fails, you shouldn’t let that stop you. Sophia Amoruso built a multimillion-dollar company, made in on the Forbes list of self-made bosses and guess what? Her company went bankrupt. But did she let that stop her? No. She learned from her mistakes and now she has a new company that she’s truly passionate about and it’s doing great. She didn’t give up. Yes, it was hard, yes it hurts when what you work so hard for fails, but there’s no success without struggle. So keep working hard. If there’s one thing we can learn from Sophia’s story is to never give up and keep working hard.