At 22 years old, Sophia Amoruso unknowingly created Nasty Gal. A clothing company which one day would reach $300 million in revenue (Forbes). Before Nasty Gal blew up, Sophia had no prior experience, references or a blueprint to guide her. All she had were her sharp instincts, intuitive marketing skills and impeccable fashion sense. The dumpster diving California native developed Nasty Gal from her bedroom (Tributetomagazine). Nasty Gal began as a store on eBay where Amoruso sold vintage pieces she discovered during her free time (Refinery29). The eBay store, Nasty Gal Vintage, developed quite a following. Amoruso noticed the way she styled her models in vintage ensembles was grabbing the attention of the public (Tributetomagainze). According to Tributetomagazine, Amoruso was making over $2,500 a week a year after she started Nasty Gal Vintage. This encouraged Sophia to open up her own e-commerce brand despite not having an education, nor a concrete grasp of the fact that she was starting a potential multi-million dollar company at the time (CNBC). Regardless, Sophia went in headfirst and took the world by storm as Nasty Gal blew up, dominating the market at its prime. She not only brought all her loyal eBay customers and followers with her, but Nasty Gal was also covered by editors from Whowhatwhere.com and Daily Candy (GMA). Amoruso did not even have a publicist. Her natural marketing abilities allowed her to create an appealing brand identity that was so well established it spoke for itself. The success of Nasty Gal inspired Amoruso to publish a memoir “#Girlboss” in 2014. “#Girlboss” became a New York Times bestseller by selling over 600,000 copies worldwide (GMA). The memoir detailed her journey from a “dumpster diving teen who dropped out of school” to establish a multi-million dollar business. “#Girlboss” later went on to be adapted into a Netflix comedy series loosely based on her life. Sophia Amoruso also appeared on Forbes’ Richest Self-Made Women, a title she rightfully earned with an estimated net worth of $280 million (Forbes).
Despite all of the public success, a whirlwind of events behind the scenes proceeded to impact Sophia Amoruso’s company and life. According to Forbes, in 2015 Amoruso stepped down as Nasty Gal’s CEO but stayed on as executive chairwoman. Nasty Gal’s sales were also steadily decreasing “from $85 million in 2014 to $77 million in 2015” (Latimes). By November 2016 Nasty Gal filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and Amoruso stepped down as executive chairwoman. Nasty Gal also faced a couple lawsuits on employee discrimination and alleged copyright infringement (Forbes). In addition to this, the Girlboss Netflix show was canceled after one season. Amoruso’s one-year marriage had come to an end around this time as well. Eventually, U.K fashion company Boohoo.com ended up buying the rights to Nasty Gal’s intellectual property (Forbes).
Within a matter of 2 to 3 years, Sophia went through an entrepreneur’s worst nightmare. She lost her $200 million clothing brand and her credibility took a hard hit. Looking back Amoruso admits to CNBC that she had no real peers or anybody reliable to look up to for guidance during the difficult time. After the fall of Nasty Gal Sophia Amoruso took it upon herself to assess the events that transpired and learn from them. This self-reflection helped to inspire Sophia’s next project which she co-founded in 2017. The Girlboss initiative, which is essentially a Linkedinesque platform exclusively for women, is extremely meaningful to Amoruso (Latimes). This is the type of supportive community Sophia wished she had access to when she started Nasty Gal in her 20s. The goal of Girlboss is to help women reach their career goals while being supported by a network of women who understand and have had similar experiences. One of the biggest takeaways from Sophia Amoruso’s incredible story is that progress is not linear and resilience is key. Sophia put it best herself by saying, "The thing about resilience is that it requires setbacks if you have nothing to recover from you’re likely not taking enough risks. Failing is a form of moving forward because if you’re curious & self-aware, you get to learn.” (Forbes)