We’ve talked about Lean In, a book that’s so hugely popular it’s actually started (or helped to re-ignite) a modern women’s movement. Have you read it? Of the women I’ve spoken to who haven’t, a common assumption is that Sheryl Sandberg is too successful to be able to relate in any meaningful way to those of us without corporate jets at our disposal. In fact, before we read it for our blog, we shared a similar sentiment. Obviously after reading it we felt otherwise, but maybe you want some advice from a different type of role model. Perhaps Sophia Amoruso is the #GirlBoss you’re looking for. Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso’s book lives up to its claim “By the end of the last chapter you’ll practically be screaming, ‘Where is some work!?! I want some work and I want to do it now!’”
Amoruso hasn't set out to start a movement or write a manifesto. But #GirlBoss is more than just an inspiring success story. In this book she shares the hard-won lessons of her journey from "freegan" to millionaire businesswoman, along with advice from other successful #GirlBosses. Even the title is a clever way to address her readers and fans in an empowering way that encourages action (not to mention a ton of business boosting social media buzz).
You’d think the CEO of a multi-million dollar fashion brand would tell a pretty slick story, but in this book Amoruso honestly talks about her struggle, hard work (she started Nasty Gal as an eBay seller, btw), risk-taking, and even failures. Especially failures. As designers we hear a lot about embracing mistakes as a part of the process, but rarely is this advice accompanied by a concrete example of how or why it's important. #GirlBoss is a real-life case study of how sometimes the path to success isn’t immediately obvious and the only way to figure out what’s right is to learn what isn’t.
There’s a lot of great advice in this book, some of it practical and tactical, some of the big picture variety. Here are some of the major themes so that (while you're waiting for your newly ordered copy of #GirlBoss to arrive) you can get a head start at being a #GirlBoss.
If you believe in yourself, other people will believe in you too.
This is the type of statement I’d normally call shenanigans on. Like those posters that say things like “If you can dream it, you can achieve it.” Except she's not saying that if you believe in yourself you’ll automatically succeed. In Amoruso’s case, believing in herself meant having the confidence to stay focused and work incredibly hard at something until she knew her business inside and out. The confidence that comes from knowing you know your stuff is a powerful thing.
There are secret opportunities hidden in every failure.
Sophia Amoruso learned early on not to try to “get along” forever in something that didn’t suit her. Maybe ADD was her guide, but it worked in a positive way, never allowing her to get complacent in a situation that wasn’t going anywhere. In a relatively short time she tried her hand at just about everything and sometimes failed miserably. Trying a lot of things that didn't work probably helped her uncover what did work more quickly, and made it more meaningful when she finally figured out what she was passionate enough about to spend every waking minute working on. What this lesson comes down to is if you’re afraid to fail, you might miss out on the new idea or experience that could bring your biggest success yet.
Own Your Style
This success story might seem unlikely if you just looked at Sophia Amoruso’s resume on paper. And she didn’t get a whole lot of encouragement from other people. But she stuck with what she loved, worked super hard, ignored the naysayers and embraced what made her unique. You can’t be a stand out success if you’re only focused on fitting in.
Sophia Amoruso is the founder, Chief Executive Officer and Creative Director of Nasty Gal.
Follow Sophia on Twitter @sophia_amoruso
Read about the #GirlBoss Foundation, a grants program providing women in the worlds of design, fashion, music, and the arts with financial endowments to achieve their goals.
BY KATE LINDEEN