It's quite possible you've never heard of Sophia Amoruso, the founder of online retailer, Nasty Gal. The woman who, at 22, started selling vintage clothes she'd found in thrift stores on eBay, and seven years later was – is – the CEO of a business worth more than $100 million and one of the most powerful women in fashion today.
But if the name is ringing some bells, then you most likely know Amoruso’s distinctly 21st century rags-to-riches tale, which begins with her working as a Sandwich Artist in Subway, between stints as an amateur shoplifter, before becoming an eBay entrepreneur and eventually the e-commerce queen and employer of 350 people she is today.
Now, Amoruso has published her first book, #GIRLBOSS, which could do for Generation Z what Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In did for Generation Y. And that’s not just because it’s got a hashtag in the title. If ever you needed a solid kick up the backside to get you off the sofa or out of your dead-end job, and make that idea for a business a reality, this book should do it.
But be warned, as Amoruso clearly states at the beginning of this part-autiobiography, part-self help tome: ‘This book will not teach you how to get rich quick, break into the fashion industry, or start a business. It is neither a feminist manifesto or a memoir.’
What it is though, is a simultaneously funny, warm, inspiring and straight-talking guide on how to go about getting shit done. This is what we learned:
Do as she says, not as she does
The first thing Amoruso sold online was a stolen book. This was after she’d dropped out of college, and had to take a dead-end job just to get health insurance for a hernia operation (seriously, this book isn’t all glam fashion parties and fast cars – that comes later). But be clear: Amrouso is not condoning her actions (like the time she got in a punch up with her boyfriend’s ex), this is just colour to her story – and a pretty good illustration of how you don’t have to follow a traditional route to find success.
Luck has nothing to do with it
Well it might have a little bit to do with it. Like when Amoruso found not one, but two Chanel jackets in a thrift store for $8 (which she then sold for over $1000). But the overriding message in #GIRLBOSS is, if you want your bank balance to resemble Amoruso’s, then you need to work, work, and work some more. Forget having a social life – Amoruso had to for the first couple of years – to get a business off the ground, you have to live and breathe it.
Go with your instinct
When it came to advertising her wares on eBay, Amoruso went with her gut feeling: she styled things on regular girls, or modelled things herself. She scoured the homes of the deceased (legally, of course) for real vintage finds. In essence, she knew what people wanted before they did – hence the meteoric rise of Nasty Gal. So don’t follow the crowd, or listen to the naysayers. If you think you’re idea’s great, then give it a shot.
MySpace was once useful
Of course, we know MySpace was once really influential (hello Lily Allen and the Arctic Monkeys), but it’s really easy to forget that it used to be more than just the place where all your most embarrassing teenage thoughts and photos are archived. And probably still are. MySpace is where Amoruso managed to amass her growing fanbase when she was still a humble eBay seller. Sure, promoting your online shops on MySpace was frowned upon, but Amoruso’s nothing if not a rule breaker.
Amoruso loves an inspirational quote
Whether it’s from Estée Lauder or Oscar Wilde, Abraham Lincoln or Iggy Pop, Amoruso’s book is littered with nuggets of wisdom from a range of characters. ‘Life is short. Don’t be lazy’, is how #GIRLBOSS begins. Who said that? Amoruso, of course.