“A #GIRLBOSS is in charge of her own life. She gets what she wants because she works for it.”
The first thing Sophia Amoruso sold online wasn’t fashion – it was a stolen book. She spent her teens hitchhiking, committing petty theft and dumpster diving. By twenty-two, she had redesigned herself to employment, but was still broke, directionless and working a mediocre day job she’d taken for the health insurance.
It was there that she decided to start selling vintage clothes on eBay. Eight years later, she is the founder, CEO and creative director of Nasty Gal, a $100 million plus online fashion retailer with more than 350 employees.
I’m not sure how a copy of #GIRLBOSS came into my possession. Sure, I know that I ordered it via Amazon and signed for the delivery when it arrived but, having never heard of Nasty Gal or Sophia Amoruso, I’m still bewildered to what motivated to send it to my basket at 4am one night. Actually, ordering books whilst 67% full of wine is kind of my thing – this isn’t the first time a book has appeared at my door a few days after a night out. Some people drunk dial their ex, I purchase literature whilst under the influence.
So it’s safe to say I read this without any preconceptions about Sophia Amoruso or her kitschy online boutique. I do, however, love vintage fashion and women killing it in the business world, so drunk me had ordered herself something suitable at least. As you can see by my excessive use of post it notes, I had a lot of thoughts by the end of the memoir for Millennials.
What got me wanting to Instagram extracts?
- “I treat my Internet passwords as modern-day sigils, embedding them with wishes or promises to me, or even financial goals for the company.” My password for Facebook was once getanewjob so it’s great to know I’m not the only werido out there.
- Unpaid internships suck. Working for free for months on ends favours kids from wealthier backgrounds, rather than those actually deserving of breaking into the industry. Sophia’s view on interning had me all ‘I need to immediately Tweet this with a solidarity fist emoji’. “I see so many resumes of people who’ve interned at 20 million amazing places. That’s great, I’m glad you were able to explore your interests and gain exposure, but if you’ve been interning for five years, it seems to me as though you don’t need to work. I respect people who are willing to roll up their sleeves and get the job done, even if it’s a shitty one. Trust me, there ain’t no shame in the game.
- Sophia is proof that you can study for years, read all the books, complete every work experience placement going, but sometimes you’ve either got it or you haven’t when it comes to business. She is self-taught and the earlier chapters are inspiring – the care she put into her first packages, giving the impression it wasn’t just her in a bedroom, to when she had to chip in at the warehouse as a CEO; so many little anecdotes that give you reassurance that if you know you’ve got it in you, you can achieve it (with a lot of hard work).
- Money looks better in the bank than on your feet She’s got some good financial advice. Having ruined her credit on crap (been there my friend, been there), Nasty Gal was built without borrowing a penny from anyone. In this day and age, where we max out a credit card for our coffee fixes, her common sense pearls of wisdom are a must read for anyone who is an aspiring #GIRLBOSS
What got me rolling my eyes?
- “By the time I was in my twenties, vintage was almost all I wore. In San Francisco my friends and I picked a decade and stuck to it. We listened to old music, drove old cars and wore old clothes. My decade was the ‘70s. I had long rock ‘n’ roll hair parted in the middle, with a uniform of my new eBay high-waisted polyester pants, platform shoes, and vintage halters.” This extract from page 25 almost lost me. Vintage clothes are amazing but does anyone really need to dress exclusively from one decade?
- The book is marketed that Sophia came from nothing, and while she doesn’t herself pull an Alan Sugar (banging on about humble beginnings), the blurb and general praise for her rise to success seems a little flawed when you start reading between the lines. While she may talk about her days of dumpster diving and dining on discarded bagels, you get the impression she comes from quite a middle class background. She spent her teens hitchhiking and stealing yet was able to return to her family home to recover from a hernia operation – it often seems like her lifestyle was a choice, not something that was inevitable. There’s a lot of emphasis on the fact she’s a high school dropout but I feel we’re often all guilty of romanticising not finishing compulsory education, or failing at it. Look, we have to go to school until 18 – it’s not the be all and end all, but if you’re forced to do something, by law, then you may as well have a go at doing well at it. Of course, her success is solely down to her work ethic but I don’t think this is entirely the rags to riches tale the reviews claim it to be.
- Shoplifting (and hitchhiking) saved my life Sophia claims to recount her light-fingered past with ‘zero pride’ but with a whole chapter dedicated to her elaborate schemes and her criminal past, it’s not hard to detect a little pride coming through. And hey, I’d be pretty proud of some of scams she invented, but maybe don’t mention it on the first line of your book if you’re claiming you’re pleading deep shame for your actions.
Kindle or Print Purchase?
Okay, the fact that it’s called #GIRLBOSS, hash-tag and everything, it can be tempting to make this a Kindle purchase to avoid any sneers on the train, but this is a strictly print buy -if only for the perfect layout and wonderful sketches. Plus, it’s actually more expensive to download than it is to have an actual book in your hand – what the hell is all that about? Who do I speak to about making it illegal for any Kindle book to be over a fiver?
Up all night reading or gathering dust on the bedside table?
You can certainly read this all in one sitting, if you want, but the format of the book means it’s perfect for dipping in and out of. I find that one of the pros to non fiction; you don’t feel a rush to finish the story – you can take your time.
Recommend to a friend?
The cover alone gives away just who’d enjoy this kind of memoir. This is one for all your mates with an entrepreneurial edge.
Sophia seems to constantly hit the nail on the head when it comes to Millennials and our expectations for life:
Be a nice person at work. It doesn’t matter how talented you are; if you are a total terror to work with, no one will want to keep you around. And the worst kind of mean is selective mean – people who are nice to their boss and superiors, but completely rude to their peers or subordinates.
I recently heard someone use the acronym “IWWIWWWIWI’ – “I Want What I Want When and Where I Want It.” One might call this the motto of my generation. We’re internet kids who have been spoiled by our desires being no more than a click away. We think fast, type fast, move fast, and expect everything else to happen just as fast. I’m guilty of it, too.
It pays to be as unemotional as possible when asking for a raise. First, be really honest with yourself and make sure you deserve that raise you’re asking for. You do not automatically deserve a raise just because you’ve been somewhere for a certain amount of time.
In my book (and this is my book!) magical thinking is the alchemy that you can use to visualise and project yourself into the professional and personal life you want. I’m not talking about The Secret self-help book, which basically tells you to tape a picture of a car to the wall and then sit on the couch and wait for someone to drop it off in your drive. I am talking about visualization that works when we get up off our asses and do stuff.
There is no auto-correct in life – think before texting the universe.
BUY #GIRLBOSS HERE