Updated: Feb 14, 2019
By Sophia Amoruso
This book is made for entrepreneurs! For those that are not entrepreneurs… #Girlboss makes you want to become one. One of my undergraduate concentrations is Business Management and while I preferred to go down the Finance route in my career, I was always fascinated with how businesses were started and what drove a business to become successful. In the United States, over 600,000 businesses are started every year. Of these 600,000, over half of them are doomed to fail within the first year. So what makes some businesses succeed while others fail? I decided to learn how Sophia Amoruso made her business successful and according to #Girlboss, it’s all about strategy, creativity, and drive. As if her story wasn’t memorable enough, this book was also recently made into a Netflix series of the same name.
This book begins with Sophia working dead end jobs while trying to figure out what she wants to do with her life (sounds like everyone in their 20’s) after she drops out of school. She’s constantly shoplifting until she finally gets caught and relocates to San Francisco where she discovers that she has a hernia in her groin. In order to gain health insurance, she begins working at a local community college checking student IDs. Due to not making a lot of money at her current job she decides to go thrift shopping in order to find herself some clothes. While shopping, she found a vintage leather jacket, that was being sold for only $9. Knowing how much something like this was worth, she decided to sell on eBay. She ended up selling this item for over $600!! Thus began the beginning of her journey.
She begins combing through local thrift jobs in order to find other valuable vintage pieces and haggling down the prices even lower. She would go home, take pictures in the outfits and then post them on eBay and have them sold out immediately. The demand for her vintage style clothes were ever increasing as she became established on eBay as Nasty Gal Vintage. Transitioning over from eBay to her own online sight (now only Nasty Gal), she established a well known brand where women could shop a variety of styles and her business boomed.
Final Rating: 6/10
While I found the book to be inspiring as a story where Sophia started from nothing and built her business from the bottom up, I have to dock this book points for a variety of reasons. The main reason that dominates above all is the importance of honesty in a story such as this. While yes, the majority of how she built up her business was through thrift store finds and selling on eBay, it wasn’t until after I read and did some research that I found a lot of the items she sold in the beginning days of establishing her business were STOLEN items. Even though according to the memoir she stopped shoplifting after being caught, it was discovered that this continued well into the beginning stages of her business. One of her most memorable moments was when her first sale was that vintage leather jacket that she sold for $600, however it was found that her first official sale of the business was actually a book she had stolen. While I want these reviews to be centered on the book itself, I have to let news like this impact my view because then I think this muddles the message. It is one thing to fairly start a business from the ground up but when a portion of your business, a portion of your legacy, is founded on lies and theft, this isn’t a message that should be shared to future entrepreneurs. This is not very #Girlboss to me.
Another reason I didn’t give this a higher rating is because I think at times it skims over the difficult times or other problems Sophia may have faced during this time. I think this is so crucial to share with others because it is often that most lessons for beginners starting their own business are learned through mistakes and through problems. At times when reading this book, it almost seems too good to be true. She found a jacket she sold for $600 and then magically she finds hundreds of other items just as valuable (Why the hell haven’t I managed to find a $600 jacket?). I would have liked her to delve more into the strategy of how she chose the clothes, where she had to look, and what was the rationale of the markups she gave these items when selling on eBay. Maybe this is the business side of me that is more interested than the reading side, but half the time they are married together so I would have loved the best of both worlds in this book.
Now enough with the negatives, I actually still enjoyed Sophia’s journey even with the flaws in her story. I think she truly does come from humble beginnings and turned literal scraps in a thrift shop into a multi-million dollar business. This shows that this is possible for anyone no matter where they came from as long as you find a niche and work hard. I also thought it was interesting to read how she strategized the marketing of her products. She didn’t just take a blurry picture of it and put it on eBay and hope for the best. She took extreme care using her photography lessons and close friends to make sure the way she photographed these items made them immediately attractive and recognizable to her clients. She even had her client’s style in mind when looking for new pieces by recognizing what sold more than others so she knew what to buy more of when she re-stocked her supply. Overall, I would recommend the book to those who are interested in business success stories because I think this is definitely a great motivator to others.