Without Fail: Sophia Amoruso

  • Sophia started Nasty Gal when she was just 22 years old. At its peak Nasty Gal was “valued” at $350 million. Then it all fell apart. Very publicly and spectacularly. (4:10) 

  • How Sophia started Nasty Gal: She kept getting friend requests from eBay stores that sold vintage clothes on MySpace. Sophia liked shopping at vintage stores so she started her own eBay store. She never for a moment thought she was starting a company. (5:52)

  • When she knew she was onto something: My auctions closed and I made $2500 in a week. I felt rich. (8:02)

  • Nasty Gal was all I did for years: I eventually saved a million dollars in cash in a bank account. I didn’t have debt. I was at the top of the pack in the vintage category. I could buy something for $20 and sell it for $400. It was like free money. (9:08)

  • Why did you move off of eBay?: I was sending a lot of traffic to eBay from MySpace. At the bottom of my listings, there would be products from other sellers. Why am I giving all this traffic to other people? (10:15)

  • Revenue for Nasty Gal by year: $75k, $250k, $1.1 million, $6.5 million, $28 million (12:25)

  • A potentially bad idea: I rented a house. I wasn’t sure if I could afford it. I felt like I would grow into affording it. I believe making commitments before you know how to keep them is how you manifest things. It’s also how you end up fucking up. But you might not step into the opportunity without actually committing to it. (13:58)

  • Why did you want to take VC? How much money did you have? Me personally? Like 15k. I wasn’t a millionaire. (Even at $28 million in revenue). For me, I took VC because it was an amazing cushion to have. There was something to show for it. I never took a dollar out of the business. I became a millionaire at 27 or 28. [From VC but not the actual business operations. In retrospect this was probably a bad sign] (17:41)

  • After VC we make up revenue projections out of thin air: We licked our finger, put it in the air and said this year we did $28 million. Next year we will do $128 million. We hired 100 more people in a year. It became the Tower of Babel. (20:22)

  • Why did you step down as CEO: My job became a lot of bureaucracy. A lot of stuff that I wasn’t cut out to do. I’m a marketing and brand person. I was in meetings all day. I was so far from the creative part of the business that it was a bummer. It wasn’t fun. (24:52)

  • I wrote this book Girl Boss and put myself on the cover: I was like: We did it! And then by the end of that year, we started laying people off. I was like: Oh My God what is this. (26:48)

  • I think our fate was sealed the day we were valued at $350 million: It cockblocked the ability for anyone to come in and say you are making $100 million? Cool, you are valued at $200 million. We couldn’t raise money after that. (28:04)

  • It gets worse: Nasty Gal filed bankruptcy and my husband left me a month later (29:53)

  • Full podcast here.