When Sophia Amoruso — the founder of sexed-up online vintage clothing shop Nasty Gal — came to San Francisco this summer, more than a hundred young women crowded into the back of Books Inc. in Opera Plaza to see her.
Wearing Nasty Gal-favored items like sheer pants, capes, bustiers and statement necklaces (wild for San Francisco’s usual fleece-uniformed crowd), the audience had a lot of questions for Amoruso — from taxes to work-appropriate vintage attire to choosing credit cards.
Amoruso’s advice onstage — and in her new book #GirlBoss — was simple: entry-level jobs teach valuable lessons, save a little bit of money each month, don’t chew gum during interviews. One chapter of the book is called “Money Looks Better in the Bank Than on Your Feet.” In the middle of the audience, her mother, aunt, and uncle (she comes from a large Greek family) sat in a row nodding — it was quite sensible advice.
“Two years ago we did a focus group: how do you feel when you wear Nasty Gal?” she said in an interview later. “The most common answer? I feel like I can take over the world. The brand was already about empowerment.”
Formerly a wild-child art school student who hitchhiked and regularly shoplifted, Amoruso has created a $100 million company with 350 employees around provocatively styled vintage clothing. “Nasty Gals do it better” is one of their slogans. But somewhere along the way she became more than a designer. With #GirlBoss and the subsequent tour of brass tacks personal finance advice, she’s become something of a Suze Orman for young women.
“The advice is actually easy for anyone to give, and for some reason it’s just not done for these girls,” she said. “I’m telling girls, ‘You don’t get what you don’t ask for,’ or, ‘Hey, pay your parking tickets,’ and a lot of them haven’t heard it before. When you have a platform, you start to see that, and you start to see how much of an impact you can have.”
Amoruso plans on opening brick-and-mortar stores soon and wants them to host #GirlBoss meetings and personal finance classes, much like Lululemon has yoga classes.
“At the end of the day, I don’t want it to be about clothes. It never was about clothes,” she said.
“For these girls, it’s that time in your life when you’re like: ‘Is my life starting now? Am I preparing for my life? Is this the job? Is this a stepping stone?’ And I’m like, you never know until you know, which is pretty normal advice,” she said. “But no one else is talking to them about it.”
Sample advice from Nasty Gal:
On cover letters: “Spell check exists for a reason.”
And on the interview: “You wrote a cover letter that was so good it made my mascara run, and now you have an interview. Have you ever walked into a party and felt like everyone was staring at you in judgment? This is why you should not smoke weed at parties. But in all seriousness, at a job interview, this is exactly what happens.”