Sophia Amoruso: #GIRLBOSS on Building a Fashion Empire
Sophia Amoruso went from running a small one person online shop on eBay to a multi-million dollar fashion empire. At SXSW 2014 Sophia Amoruso engaged in a discussion with Inc. senior writer Christine Lagorio-Chafkin on growing her company. Nasty Gal, Sophia’s company, is an fashion e-commerce store aimed at young, body-confident women. The name of the store came from a song by Betty Davis, a funk singler, ex-model, and ex-wife of Miles Davis.
Nasty Gal began as a vintage shop. In 2006, Sophia dropped out of community college and tried out a variety of jobs while starting Nasty Gal on the side. Sophia has an eye and love for fashion. She would scavenge thrift shop to find great fashion pieces. She once found a Chanel jacket at $8 and sold it for $1,000. With an eye for style, a mind for marketing, and a love for photography, Sophia quickly grew her eBay vintage store.
“My philosophy is that you sell things for more than you bought them.” – Sophia Amoruso
Sophia effectively marketed and grew an audience base through social media. She amassed thousands of MySpace followers and grew her business organically and learned how to optimize social media for marketing. However, she eventually found that although the margins are good, especially with her skill sets on flipping vintage clothing, the items are typically only one of a kind items. It’s not scalable. Selling things on eBay was also limiting. She began searching and buying items from independent wholesalers and eventually migrated to her own online store. The fans followed and Nasty Gal continued to grow.
“”What people pay for on Facebook today I figured out how to do for free,” she said. “I had 60,000 friends on MySpace.” – Sophia Amoruso
Nasty Gal transitioned from only vintage clothes to edgy brand for body-confident women. She has a clear depiction of the Nasty Gal brand and her social media savvy helped her reach her young customers. Overtime Nasty Gal grew and Sophia began expanding her team. Her instincts for the market is just as on key with hiring. Sophia grew her company further by hiring the right people. One of Sophia’s most valuable advice involves her hiring practices:
“Hire people and trust them. I’m really good at hiring good people. If they want to work for a female-led company that’s venture-backed, the opportunity here is way cooler than that.” – Sophia Amoruso
There’s also a highly enforced no assholes policy. To preserve culture, it’s important to create a good work environment conducive to collaboration.
“”It’s an office full of girls, and no one is bitchy. It’s just not OK.” – Sophia Amoruso
Today, Nasty Gal makes over $100 in revenue in 2013 and Sophia raised 50 million in funding to continue and grow her business. Sophia is a leading figure representing women in entrepreneurship. Not only that, she’s also releasing her first book, #GIRLBOSS, in May! If you’re looking for an inspiring read with actionable advice, this book is it.