CEO Nasty Gal, Sophia Amoruso speaks at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2014, May 7, 2014 in New York City.
Photo by Brian Ach/Getty

‘You can work for other people and still be a #GIRLBOSS’


Author and entrepreneur Sophia Amoruso answered reader questions after appearing on “Morning Joe.” Her book “#GIRLBOSS,” is a tantalizing read on her wild ride to becoming the CEO of the successful online retail company, Nasty Gal. Take a look at highlights from the Q&A:

“I would say the must-dos in my experience were going to Europe with just myself and a backpack, Craigslist-riding to L.A. and hanging with an old friend while making new ones, sneaking in to see Old Dirty Bastard (of Wu Tang) perform before he died, and taking lots of great road trips with friends.”
Sophia Amoruso, author of #GIRLBOSS

@MekitaRivas: In your book, you describe a rather turbulent and unpredictable path to success. I’m curious – at any point, were you scared or frightful about your future? Did you ever think you’d have to pick between working for the man and being the (wo)man?

Sophia: Absolutely. I was terrified and confused every day of my life until I started Nasty Gal, and for a good while after as well. I even considered becoming a nun for a quick moment, since falling into line as I was expected was the last thing I’d want to do. In a way, I dropped out by dropping in as intensely as anyone can. Through that, I realized that convention doesn’t always mean ennui, or selling out – and that great things can be realized through even the most commonplace tasks. 

@Its_Bryetta: I’m knee deep in your book right now and I love it!  Where does the line between necessary conventions and painful conformity start and how do you, personally, differentiate between the two?

I think it all depends on the person. It’s sort of like one’s personal fashion style. There are things that you might wear that everybody else is wearing, but you don’t want to look like you are an ad campaign for a brand. It’s important to be authentic to yourself and balance those trendy pieces with something classic or vintage that nobody else has. You can work for other people and still be a #GIRLBOSS, it’s more about a state of mind, and knowing yourself well enough to know when you’re making decisions for yourself or because the world expects them of you. And guess what? It’s okay to do that sometimes too. 

Alicia Maule: Who are your musical inspirations and what are you listening to these days?

Sophia: Alicia Maule, there’s not enough space on the internet to properly credit my music inspirations. Music is such a big part of my life. My boyfriend is an incredible musician. I named my company after a Betty Davis song. Betty was a funk singer who was married to Miles Davis for a while. She was an ex-runway model who was super stylish and outspoken; and she wore lingerie on stage with thigh-high boots. She had a lyric like, “If you don’t like me, I don’t care.” That pretty much says it all. Right now, I’m listening to the same old Spotify playlists I have been for a while now – Lou Reed, John Cale, Gene Clark , Rowland S. Howard, Pulp – I’m all over the place.

Mika Brzezinski: Can you please tell us about your background and your family experience with money? Did that help build your philosophy behind how you run your business or how you started it? 

Sophia: My parents taught me the value of money and working hard. And I kind of got that in me intuitively. I’m a big believer in no credit card debt, saving 10% of everything you earn, and not acting like you’ve arrived when you’ve just gotten the invitation. In the book, I talk about how money looks better in the bank than it does on your feet— meaning, don’t buy things you can’t afford!

@Joseph_deS: My nieces are young teenagers now and beginning to look at life as more than just getting to the weekend (finally!). I’m curious, given your experiences, if you could speak to “Teen Sophia” now, what would you tell her? I’d be a bit more interested in the things you may have regretted missing out on or experiences you wouldn’t want her to miss, versus what to avoid. 

Sophia: I hope your nieces are fans of Nasty Gal. If not, be a good uncle and get them a gift card. To answer your question, I don’t feel like I missed out on much. I tried college, I tried shoplifting. I tried gardening, I tried scamming big chains. In the end, nothing really felt right for me. I would say the must-dos in my experience were going to Europe with just myself and a backpack, Craigslist-riding to L.A. and hanging with an old friend while making new ones, sneaking in to see Old Dirty Bastard (of Wu Tang) perform before he died, and taking lots of great road trips with friends. Being 18, 19, 20 – those are the best ages. Sometimes the roughest emotionally, but it’s when you have no excuse not to be exploring the world and upsetting your parents – even if just a little.

Nisha Chittal: Excited to read your book. My question to you: Do you think mentoring is helpful? Do you have mentors?  If you do, how did you find them?

Sophia: I’ve had lots of advice along the way, but no real gurus. I’m someone who has absolutely no shame asking anyone for advice, and neither should you. LinkedIn is a great place to find folks with incredible experience. Sometimes it’s worth being your own mentor, and Googling up a storm to figure out what you may be looking for. I even watched YouTube videos to learn what kind of shelving to buy for our warehouse once!

@andreabremser: Your experience and who you are as a person obviously shapes the way you do business. Part of your book (that resonates with me) seem to be inspired by Seth Godin. Is he an influence?

Sophia: I like Seth Godin. But I wasn’t really directly influenced by his work or thinking of it when I wrote this book. I think he’s a pretty brilliant guy who really tries to inspire people to go out and make their way in the world. I hear his book, “The Icarus Deception,” is really good, but I haven’t read it yet.

@andreabremser: Have you been inspired by anyone (their personal or biz philosophy) on the way you run your business? Have you come across any other companies you admire or have a similar ‘spirit’ as Nasty Gal? (In L.A.?)

Sophia: In L.A., no. But I think Lululemon’s culture seems amazing – that their stores are not only places you can buy their amazing product but also a cultural hub staffed with people really dedicated to yoga and living that lifestyle. I have been to the Twitter offices a few times as well and always leave inspired. Their CEO, Dick, used to be a stand up comedian – he’s amazing and someone I look up to a lot as a leader. 

Keep up with Sophia @Sophia_Amoruso and Nasty Gal @nastygal.