In honor of our upcoming Galentine’s Day event celebrating boss ladies in Baltimore, as the great Leslie Knope intended, I thought our next Read This: should definitely be about be #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso.
If you’re not familiar with the little site Nastygal.com, Sophia Amoruso is the young boss lady who built a massive fashion website that started as a 1 girl eBay operation in her studio apartment in San Francisco. An uneducated, dumpster-diving, hitchhiker with a penchant for shoplifting and quitting her mall jobs, Amoruso had been written off as a fail by most of her family and friends. When she found she had a knack for finding gems among the rubbish at the thrift store and a relentless ability to break the rules, she began Nasty Gal, an eBay store for vintage clothes. After finding meteoric success that ruffled more than a few eBay seller feathers, she was finally given the boot from the e-commerce site; just in time to launch her own. Taking her 60,000 MySpace friends with her, the website grew in both sales and its cult following, becoming the $100 million+ company it is today, with a massive facility in L.A. and over 350 employees, all in less than 10 years.
The book #Girlboss is part memoir, part advice column, with a health sprinkling of snark and wit. Amoruso is blunt, sarcastic, and takes no prisoners or excuses. I found her view interesting and refreshing, and despite a few “humble” brags thrown in here and there, I enjoyed her story and perspective. The book is a no-holds-barred punk rock feminist manifesto in some ways, clearly spelled out in the intro: “Don’t ever let the Man get to you.” But also taps into the real business world, taking on debt management and hiring. While I found some of those chapters less interesting and applicable to my own life, (I’ve got the being a professional in an interview thing under control, thanks) I also know from experience that not everyone does, so please spit out your gum.
A lot of criticism for the book are people who are less enchanted by her “cinderella story,” saying she is out of touch and that not everyone’s hard work results in such massive success. She also is pretty critical of the Millennial generation she is barely older than (at 31), who she says expect to be rewarded for participating, not for their actual work. I beg to differ with those critiques. While if you only read into the surface level of the book, which does almost make it seem easy to achieve such success, it is clear both in her work ethic and if you research the company that Sophia Amoruso does not mess around. She is a perfectionist who is constantly looking to get better, learn more, think bigger. She identified her customer early in game and stuck with that, using social media in ways that most people still haven’t figured out. I also, as a Millenial, sometimes agree with that assessment, though obviously it doesn’t apply to everyone. But if you can tell me you’ve never seen someone whining in their Facebook status about their super-cushy job they got right out of college because of Daddy’s connections, then can we please switch accounts? I’m so jealous.
My favorite chapter is probably “I Am the Antifashion,” which talks about standing out in a crowded scene and letting your freak flag fly, but also touches on how powerful introverts can be in business. She quotes Susan Cain’s Quiet, which made me instantly want to high-five her and ask if we just became best friends. As a fellow introvert who is also a #girlboss, I know the power of thinking and listening instead of speaking, of making a decision after carefully considering the consequences instead of just going with your gut. Common thinking would tell you that extroverts are going to always be the most successful as they are louder, better at networking, and more likely to be heard by a lot more people. But Albert Einstein, J.K. Rowling, and Sophia Amoruso beg to differ. Add me to that clique any day. (Though none of us would actually want to hang out with each other, because we’d rather be alone.)
Overall, a great, pretty quick read for all my boss ladies out there. Feel free to skim the chapters on resumes, but don’t miss the overall point: Be yourself, work hard as hell, and don’t let anyone tell you no.
Let’s chat about #Girlboss next week at Blue Pit! Have you RSVP’d yet?
All images from #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso