All The Books I Can Read

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Review: #GIRLBOSS – Sophia Amoruso

on June 9, 2014

Sophia Amoruso
Penguin Books AUS
2014, 239p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Sophia Amoruso was 22 and aimless when she began selling vintage clothes on eBay. She’d taken a temporary job just for the health insurance but it was tedious and she wanted something else. When she began selling clothes, she quickly realised that she could turn this into a job if she was clever enough and organised enough.

From a rented room she created a base and a brand. She didn’t just list the clothes and wait for results, she tried new and creative photography shoots with them, showing how they could be styled and worn. Nasty Gal was born and before long, she started seeing results. Sophia worked hard and often long hours sourcing clothes from vintage shots, styling the shoots and creating the listings. She learned the best times to list items and had a production line of items ready to post. She outgrew her rented accomodations and made the first of many moves to larger properties.

From eBay to its own website, Nasty Gal became a global phenomenon and now Sophia Amoruso is the CEO and creative director of a $100m company that employs hundreds. In this witty memoir, Sophia details how she made her meteoric rise from backyard seller to global entity and shares a little of how she does her business from hiring people to closing the deal on selling stock in her online store. Above all, customer service is the foundation on which her empire was built and she shows the many ways that she places emphasis on it, often sacrificing other things in order to stay true to her ideal.

I have to admit, I’d never heard of Nasty Gal until I received this book. I’m not really into vintage clothing and although I do shop online, it’s usually not for clothes. I’m a longrunning eBay customer though and I remember the days where it was people looking to shift their unwanteds, not make money. Mostly it seems these days eBay is about making a profit and although you can pick up some out of stock pieces and expensive items at cheaper prices, the days of truly using it as a type of vintage/thrift store seem to be mostly gone. If you pick up items for next to nothing, the postage stings you more than it would to go and pick it or a similar item up in the store. However I was interested in how someone became successful selling clothes on eBay and then turned that into a million dollar online enterprise. It sounds kind of too good to be true really, everyone’s dream after they list their first few things on eBay.

There’s no denying that Sophia Amoruso must’ve worked hard, even in the early days and she was obviously more creative and driven than a lot of people. She spent lots of time styling her clothes and giving the customers a clear picture on how they could be worn, which is a lot of people’s problem when buying online. A lot of the time you’re seeing the item laid flat or on a tiny mannequin so it doesn’t give you a genuine idea of how it might sit worn on a real person. Amoruso worked long hours, found models and friends to use in her shoots (often on Myspace, so she was clearly a frontrunner on the social media thing) and went to extremes to make sure that the clothes were in perfect condition as much as she could, even sending away to a manufacturer for a particular button.

At the same time whilst this is all quite fun to read, it’s also kind of hard to take seriously because she seems to have experienced very little in the way of setbacks and it basically makes it seem pretty darn easy to end up being the CEO of a multi-million dollar company. I’m sure it wasn’t easy but this does seem very simplistic. I’m probably not the target audience – at 32, the whole #GIRLBOSS thing rings a little hollow for me but it’s easy to see that this is a glossy and somewhat vague how-to on self empowerment and getting the life you want. I found her history interesting (particularly the part on how she first made some money via shoplifting, rather a brave thing to include) and also the chapter on money. She rarely ever spent outside her means and saved religiously, which allowed her to occasionally make extravagant purchases but still well within keeping herself well protected with ample savings. I think that it’d be very tempting to spend lavishly when you saw the money coming in, so clearly she has vision and also self-discipline. It probably also doesn’t help that I’ve never heard of her and wasn’t a fan. Diehards who worship her and her site would probably enjoy reading these little tidbits and words of wisdom much more as it gives an insight into her character, although I do feel she holds herself back as well. She seems to have an image, a persona as the Nasty Gal creator and this book is written very much in that persona.

A quick and interesting read but not the sort where I think I’ll really take anything away from it.


Book #113 of 2014


One response to “Review: #GIRLBOSS – Sophia Amoruso

  1. Sounds like the book would benefit from a bit more insight into the hard times – as you say, I’m sure there were some!

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