by Bryanna Occhiboi, CDAE Public Communication major at the University of Vermont.
It is no wonder the New York Times once described Sophia Amoruso as the “Cinderella of tech”. (New York Times). As the founder of Girlboss Media, a new digital media company, she shows no mercy when it comes to creating new sensations across the internet-fashion world. This time around, she is giving back to more women who follow her footsteps in becoming successful entrepreneurs. Amoruso wasn’t always ranking in online. In her early twenties, she was a community college dropout, traveling around the country working various odd jobs, as loosely-described in the one season Netflix series, Girlboss. At twenty-three, her side hustle selling vintage clothing on eBay, named after funk and soul singer Betty Davis’s 1975 album ‘Nasty Gal Vintage’, took off. After being banned from the website, Nasty Gal launched as its own retailer, gaining a large following from young women on social media. With its success, Nasty Gal was profiting $100 million from clothing and accessory sales and with a following of 2.5 million on Instagram and 1.3 million likes on Facebook. In 2014, at the height of her fame, Amoruso released her book, Girlboss, then a Netflix series under the same name about her life. However, there was trouble in paradise. In 2016 the company filed for bankruptcy, Amoruso stepped down as CEO, and sold the company to Boohoo, a British retailer. (Wikipedia).
Less than a year later, Girlboss Media was born. Taking her name from her bestselling memoir, Amoruso transitioned into a new media company consisting of a website, newsletter, podcast, events and a foundation that awards financial grants for women in design, fashion, music, and arts. from Amoruso herself and other feminist authors. Girlboss is not just another Cosmopolitan or Vogue type of fashion and female expertise source. Girlboss redefines what it means to be a woman through their inspiring media presence. Not only by giving women the tools to start their own companies but also by empowering them in both professional and personal realms. Just launched this year, Girlboss has already a following of 500k on Instagram and 123,210 followers on Facebook. What makes Girlboss Media stand out from other sites is their aesthetic and Amoruso’s trademark personality, which defined “Nasty Gal.” While using the ageless and on-trend color of now, they dip their content in the millennial pink and give readers a sense of transparency and comfort that they actually want every woman to succeed in their own lives. Girlboss is “unapologetic in [their] beliefs and values” (Girlboss); they step over the line and challenge misogynistic beliefs on how women should act in the workplace and in their private lives.
While she achieved success quickly, Amoruso’s business style has been criticized by many for taking on too many projects and not sticking with one clear focus. The Harvard Business Review states that she was “seduced by an overabundance of opportunities, she threw a lot of ideas against the wall to see what would stick”, overall not having a clear focus for her brand is what causes each project to fail. (Harvard Business Review). Amoruso doesn’t disagree with this comment, stating multiple times that she started Nasty Gal on accident and that it is her “Ph.D. in what to do and what not to do when running a business.” (Glossy). Some of her projects may have not lasted long, but with each one, she has been gaining more and more of a following. In this new launch, Amoruso has taken with her the key principle to stay focused. (Glossy). She has surrounded herself with an impressive team (former CRO at Goop, Alison Wyatt and former senior VP content strategy at Refinery29, Neha Gandhi) to stay on track with their mission “to create a business centered on helping a new generation of women define success.” (Glossy). Their content, while not only informative, requires participation back. Girlboss sets up women with advice publications to access, analyze, and create their own accomplishments, while also requiring that they are active through social media to stay updated. Contributing to this, one of the key elements in their brand is the event, also known as Girlboss Rally. In March 2017, the first Girlboss Rally was held in Los Angeles with 500 attendees and over 50 speakers, the event was a major milestone for Girlboss Media. Their second rally, taking place on November 11th, is already sold out offering a range of talks and panels, networking, and professional headshots to boost your resume. Paneling about their own roads to success and their journey of failing and learning along the way are Sophia Amoruso, founder and CEO, model, Ashley Graham, motivational speaker and author, Gabby Bernstein and more. (Girlboss). Girlboss Media rallies take their business outside of the digital realm and create a supportive and personal effect for their audience. Girlboss Media doesn’t have all the answers to how to become the boss, however, it is changing the conversation and serving women the tools they need to be successful in their everyday lives.
Collis, David, “Lean Strategy,” Harvard Business Review, March 2016.
Hamanaka, Kari, “From Nasty Gal to Girlboss: Sophia Amoruso’s new digital media firm lands $1.2 million investment,” Los Angeles Times, August 18, 2017.
Hamanaka, Kari, “Sophia Amoruso Gears up for Take Two with Girlboss Media,” WWD, March 5, 2017.
Main, Sami, “Girlboss Media Aims to Create a Community for Entrepreneurial Women,” AdWeek, September 20, 2017.
Milnes, Hilary, “Sophia Amoruso on launching Girlboss Media ‘There’s no physical inventory; it’s wonderful,” Glossy, August 18, 2017.
O’Connor, Clare, “Nasty Gal Founder Sophia Amoruso Raises $1.2M For New Venture Girlboss.”
“Media,” Forbes, August 17, 2017.
Perlroth, Nicole, “Naughty in Name Only,” The New York Times, March 23, 2013.
Reed, Sam, “Sophia Amoruso on How Girlboss Media Will Differ From Other Women’s Publications,” Hollywood Reporter, August 22, 2017.
“Sophia Amoruso,” Wikipedia, October 26, 2017.
Student Author: Bry Occhiboi – Public Communications major at the University of Vermont.
Faculty Evaluator: Dr. Rob Williams – University of Vermont media/communications professor.