If Lean In were the starched pant suit for women’s career lib, then this book is the studded black six-inch heel from the 70s.
Last year when I read Lean In (in a matter of days), I really felt empowered. Not in a cheesy, cliché sense, but that I had finally received confirmation that the career choices I’d made were OK. It even gave me license to push the limits of the comfortable path I’d carved for myself.
I equally enjoyed #GirlBoss, which I read in a matter of hours. It was a good reminder that my success doesn’t have to look like yours. It re-confirmed that I can sit in my sweats and a tank top pouring over syndication partnerships and advertiser promotions with the same aptitude and commanded respect as anyone leaning across a grey board room.
Sophia Amoruso, the savvy founder of Nasty Gal, bars no holds in #GirlBoss, in life, or in her business. Her back story is half the fun of this quick and easy read, and she pulls no punches when it comes to candidness or language. If you shy away from f-bombs, s-words, or women who aren’t afraid to kick ass, both because they have to and they want to, then continue to lean in the safe way with Sandberg. But if a refreshing approach to female-lead enterprise that sounds like a sassy conversation with your girlfriends around a board room valued at more than $100 million sounds more like your bag, then grab this book and hold on.
Amoruso proclaims her book is not a female manifesto, and I’m inclined to believe her. She tells the story of how a damn-the-man kid turned a love of haggling over dusty vintage thrift store clothes into a multi-million dollar business. She happens to be a woman. Her customers happen to be women.
The most impressive part of her rise to hard-earned fortune and fame is that she did it on her own. Other than feeding models with cheap fast food, she never depended on anyone nor asked for anyone’s help. She wanted her venture to explode, and so she gave up sleep, friends, and hygiene to make it happen. She never had investors or loans; her capital was true sweat equity. Furthermore, everything she earned went right back into the business, making this entrepreneur with barely a high school education smarter than most of her peers.
While her company, Nasty Gal, grew beyond selling vintage exclusively, her thrifty roots have remained part of her business acumen. When the company grew so large that it had to move to Los Angeles to its biggest facility and office yet, and someone splurged on Herman Miller chairs, she made them sell each one on Craigslist. The Herman Miller in her office? She paid for it herself because it wasn’t an expense the company needed to incur.
Amoruso declares there are no rules to being a #GirlBoss and that you should work hard to be your own idol. This philosophy has served Matthew McConaughey well, too.
My favorite takeaway from #GirlBoss, something that I needed swift reminding of, is that it doesn’t all have to be luck. A #GirlBoss makes her own luck. Sometimes we find ourselves in a serendipitous position of unearthing not one but two Chanel jackets in a heap of musty jeans at the thrift store. That’s luck. But knowing how to photograph them, style them, place them in front of the right shopper on eBay, and sell them for $1500 after buying them for $8 — that’s the badass payoff for hard work and experience.
Owning that and knowing what to do with it next: that’s what being a #GirlBoss is all about.
#GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso (Portfolio | ISBN 9780399169274 | May 6, 2014)