This morning, we joined our own EIC Eva Chen and Nasty Gal founder and CEO Sophia Amoruso for a dynamic discussion about style, business-building and generally being a boss. (Appropriately, Sophia’s book #GIRLBOSS hits shelves in May.) Nasty Gal’s ever-stylish head honcho took the stage in a gorgeous multicolored vintage midi dress paired with Pepto-pink shoes from her company’s footwear collection, Shoe Cult. Throughout the pair’s onstage chat, we learned a ton about how the style pioneer harnessed the power of the digital space to build one of the most successful fashion brands out there today. Read on for the best bits from Eva and Sophia’s discussion!
- Growing up, Sophia was a self-proclaimed "hairy-armpited feminist" who once chained herself to a tractor to make a statement.
- She got one of her first jobs, as a campus security guard checking student IDs at an art school, in order to get health insurance to get a hernia fixed. After staying just long enough for the insurance to kick in, she promptly quit and decided to turn her focus to something she actually loved: vintage fashion.
- The idea for Nasty Gal Vintage, an online vintage boutique, came to her while she was "fiddling around on eBay."
- Social media’s been perhaps the leading factor in Nasty Gal’s astounding growth, but Sophia loves using both Instagram and Twitter in her personal life, too. However, her favorite handles might surprise you! She recommends following both @SnoopDogg and @lenadunham on Instagram, and @WOWFactsOfLife on Twitter.
- Her first employee is still with the company seven years later. She started out helping steam clothes; today, she’s Nasty Gal’s buying director.
- Being a boss isn’t the same thing as being bossy. "If someone’s being bossy for the sake of being bossy, just to order people around, then they’ve got a problem," Sophia explained.
- And check your ego at the door, please. "Don’t act like you’ve arrived if you only got the invitation," she quipped.
- Next up for Nasty Gal? Brick-and-mortar stores—the first two of which will be in Los Angeles. (Fingers crossed for an NYC location after that? Pretty please?!)
I grabbed a few minutes to speak with Sophia in the Lucky FABB green room just before her talk, too. Read on for some surprising facts you probably didn’t know about Nasty Gal’s CEO!
On why she chose the name Nasty Gal: "When I named Nasty Gal, it was actually called Nasty Gal Vintage and was an eBay store. I didn’t anticipate saying ‘Nasty Gal’ seven years later, but here I am! It’s the name of a song by Bette Davis, who’s a really outspoken funk singer. She had really crazy lyrics, crazy outfits; she was an ex-runway model and the ex-wife of Miles Davis. She was just an awesome, badass woman all around. And those qualities are very much at the center of the spirit of Nasty Gal."
On the first item she ever sold on Nasty Gal Vintage: "It was actually a Baja hoodie, or a ‘drug rug.’ It took a bit of time before I learned that my customers were more into dresses and jackets, and was able to edit my inventory to fit that."
On the role social media has played in her brand’s expansion: "Social media has been everything for us. The growth of the business has really been from word of mouth—it’s a conversation. Nasty Gal’s been everyone’s best-kept secret, but also the thing they can’t help but share. The community started on MySpace, followed us to Facebook, then to eBay, then to the website. Now, we’re on every social platform, still talking to our customers every day, evolving the conversation—and listening, which I think is very important. Next up, I want to figure out how we can continue that same conversation in a world that we create. I haven’t exactly figured out what that’s going to be, but it’ll be on Nasty Gal turf."
One piece of advice she’d give her circa-2006 self: "Wear less foundation."
On the best thing about being a boss: "Well, the best thing about being the boss is that I can’t get fired! I’ve endured that many times in the past, so it’s a nice feeling. But I also love keeping my promise both to the people I’ve hired and to the customer. It’s a huge amount of responsibility, but there’s a lot of creativity there as well. That’s so rewarding."
Stay tuned for more updates, live from Lucky FABB in Los Angeles!