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Like a (Girl)Boss!

Like a (Girl)Boss!

Photos by Anna Jonas


Though the campus of Algonquin College was practically deserted last Tuesday night given the recent strike, the school’s Commons Theatre was bustling. The air hummed with the excitement of hundreds of millennial women gathered to hear words of wisdom from an industry legend. The applause was deafening as Sophia Amoruso stepped out on stage, fresh from her recent Girlboss Rally and shining in rose velvet for her Q&A in conversation with Shopify’s Courtney Symons.

Amoruso is the original girlboss. Practically a household name in the business and fashion worlds, particularly amongst college women and millennials, the Founder of companies Nasty Gal and more recently Girlboss Media has been named by Forbes as one of the youngest of America’s richest self-made women.

The San Diego native and community college dropout went from dumpster diving and stealing to running a booming business in just a few years. At age 23, having worked numerous odd jobs and never finding anything that stuck, Amoruso was working as a security guard checking IDs at San Francisco's Academy of Art University only because she needed the health insurance to treat a hernia. She decided to create her own online shop on Ebay due to affinity for vintage clothing and bargain hunting. Nasty Gal, named for the music of Betty Davis, became Amoruso’s heart and soul and went from successful side hustle to full blown business.

Fast forward a few years and Amoruso now has one heck of a resume. She is the author of multiple books, including New York Times best-seller #GIRLBOSS and Nasty Galaxy. She runs Girlboss Radio, a podcast with a dedicated following that features remarkable and accomplished women. Her life story inspired a Netflix series starring Britt Robertson. She hosts the now biannual conference Girlboss Rally, a mecca for girlbosses far and wide desiring to learn from other remarkable women. Most recently, she has even founded a second company, Girlboss Media.

That’s not to say there hasn’t also been a few bumps along the way. Amoruso has faced her fair share of haters right from the get go, as well as the many personal and professional struggles that came with such a meteoric rise. In 2016, Nasty Gal went bankrupt around the same time that Amoruso got divorced. The company was sold to Boohoo and Amoruso had to forge a new path.

The Q&A (organized by Algonquin Students' Association, AC Hub, and IgniteAC) touched on just that — lessons learned and new directions. If one thing’s for sure, all of this new life experience has certainly shifted her perspective.

One of the things that Amoruso focused on was the importance of having transparency, as well as knowing your value and how to articulate it, especially as a woman in the business world. “I think women are not valuing ourselves in the way that men do,” she argues.

When it comes to branding yourself, Amoruso suggests that you “be yourself in all your weird glory. Be honest and vulnerable and don’t take yourself too seriously.”

Amoruso urged her audience to take risks. She explained that even though she often tried not to get into professional situations outside of her comfort zone, it would happen regardless but always lead to the best outcomes. “I guess that’s what life is,” she says. “If you’re not taking risks, you’re not going to do anything great… The difference between where you are and where you want to be is just doing it.” Her key for brushing off rejection? Put it into perspective.

The business tycoon also highlighted how vital it is to be a continual learner. “Assume you’re a beginner no matter where you are in whatever you’re doing,” she states, claiming that it’s the key to growing and keeping things interesting.

She also stressed the importance of prioritizing and not spreading yourself too thin. “It’s hard to fire on all cylinders,” she explains. “You have to choose the things you’re actually capable of at one time.”

In terms of Nasty Gal’s bankruptcy, her biggest takeaway was the value of having guidance. In a company like Nasty Gal, “there’s people around you with more experience and you give them room to run, but everyone needs guidance no matter how senior they are.” But, she says, “I would do it again.”

So what’s next for this girlboss? More conferences, more podcasts, more content, more books and growing Girlboss Media. “Can I build a business again?” she asks herself. “That’s going to be the true test.”

For more from Sophia Amoruso, check out the Girlboss Media website or the Digital Girlboss Rally for a front row seat to over 35 hours of inspirational talks and workshops by renowned keynote speakers that you can watch anytime, anywhere and on any device.