Some say millennials are lazy, entitled even. But Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso is living proof the oft-repeated cliché is wrong. Amoruso is one of the most successful millennial entrepreneurs and to say her accomplishments run a long list would be an understatement.
Amoruso founded Nasty Gal, then a vintage clothing retailer, back in 2006 on eBay. She spent the next two years honing her brand and growing her fan base before launching Nasty Gal as a standalone retail site in 2008. At the same time, Amoruso made a push into contemporary clothing, and the move quickly propelled Nasty Gal into the e-commerce stratosphere.
In 2010, Amoruso had “almost $1 million cash in the bank.” By 2011, Nasty Gal was making $23 million in revenue. The following year, the burgeoning retailer received almost $50 million in investment funding. In 2013, Inc. magazine added Amoruso to its “30 Under 30” list and Forbes named her one to watch. By 2014, when Amoruso penned her best-selling first book #Girlboss, she could write the words: “I am the CEO of a $100-million-plus business.”
While Amoruso is now rightly revered for her entrepreneurial acumen and her edgy sense of personal style, it wasn’t always this way. In fact, Amoruso had never worked in fashion when she first launched Nasty Gal. Her retail experienced was limited to minimum wage jobs at stores such as Subway and Borders. So, how did a self-described outsider manage to take on the big, bad world of business and win? And how did she do it all before her 30th birthday, no less? Ahead, discover how Amoruso became the ultimate girlboss.
She worked, hard.
In the two years that followed Nasty Gal’s launch, Amoruso devoted every minute to growing her fledgling brand. In #Girlboss, she writes: “I completely dropped out of everything for two years. From the time I woke up until the time I went to sleep, eBay was my entire world.” Her persistence paid off, but this period tested Amoruso’s resolve. Without resolution and a super-strong work ethic, it is unlikely Amoruso would have become the success she is.
Sophia Amoruso speaks at TechCrunch Disrupt.
She paid attention to what customers wanted.
When you start a business, it’s important to have an idea of who your customer is. But it’s equally as important to pay attention to what your customers are telling you and be willing to tweak things along the way. In #Girlboss, Amoruso notes: “Each week I grew faster, smarter, and more aware of what women wanted. And each week my auctions did better and better. If it sold, cool – I’d instantly go find more things like it. If it didn’t, I wouldn’t touch anything like it with a ten-foot pole ever again.”
She treated Nasty Gal’s customers as friends.
In the early days, Amoruso spent a significant amount of time on MySpace, the premier social network at the time. She answered questions and responded to comments from her thousands of followers. She tells the story: “Many companies were spending millions of dollars trying to nail social media, but I just went with my instincts and treated my customers like they were my friends. Even with no manager watching to give me a gold star, it was important to do my best.” Amoruso’s exemplary customer service is no doubt what landed Nasty Gal it’s cult following.
She believed in the Nasty Gal brand.
For years now, Nasty Gal has been one of shoe brand Jeffrey Campbell’s best customers, and it’s all thanks to the unwavering belief Amoruso had in Nasty Gal. When Jeffrey Campbell turned her down, Amoruso didn’t take no for an answer. Instead, she pulled out her phone and showed the Jeffrey Campbell team exactly what Nasty Gal had to offer them. Her confidence and conviction won the team over and secured the deal, undoubtedly helping turn Nasty Gal into the force it is today.
#Girlboss ($16) by Sophia Amoruso
She knew her strengths and weaknesses.
Recently, Amoruso stepped down as Nasty Gal’s CEO after more than eight years in the role. Today, she is the executive chairman and works in a full-time capacity leading the creative and brand marketing teams. Amoruso’s willingness to step down and let another person lead (in this case, Sheree Waterson) speaks to her maturity, which is a character trait every entrepreneur needs in her tool belt.
She never stopped learning.
Nasty Gal has experienced phenomenal growth in the almost nine years since its launch, meaning there was plenty of room for error. But Amoruso’s willingness to learn from every mistake has paved the way for continuous success, as has her philosophy that success doesn’t have an end and we can keep “creating successes” in our lives every day.
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