I remember when I was little, I had been assigned the moniker “bossy” on more than one occasion. Parents, siblings, peers, and teachers all seemed to agree. I have no idea where I got my sense of authority or whom I thought endowed me with it. I just had instinctual feelings about wanting to run the show. I was a sassy lil’ thing for sure and too young to understand that there was any stigma associated with that phrase (or to know what the word “stigma” meant).
Cut to present day, where discussions on what it means to be a female boss have been gaining momentum due, in part, to Sheryl Sandberg’s controversial views in Lean In and Arianna Huffington’s Thrive. Now add to the mix a different type of lady mogul with a non-traditional background and perspective, and you have the impetus for the recently released #GIRLBOSS. The book chronicles the genesis and evolution of online retail powerhouse Nasty Gal as told by the founder, CEO and Creative Director Sophia Amoruso. You may have recently heard that she has taken the Nasty Gal empire to retail sales of around $100,000,000 (so many zeros!).
Sophia’s voice in this ongoing dialogue about women taking charge of their destinies is an important one because she didn’t start on the same ground as most CEOs. Rather than acquiring a degree from an Ivy League school to serve as her launching pad, she was self-taught in the art of dumpster diving, Subway sandwich making, petty thieving and a slew of other short-lived jobs. All until she discovered eBay as a platform to put her innate love for vintage to good use. These few sentences of summary are, of course, over-simplifying the rich detail, humor and humility of the Nasty Gal story. But the persistent theme is about the importance of not only having a passion but working extremely hard and keeping your creative integrity intact.
On a side note, one of my favorite anecdotes from the book was when Nasty Gal had become an established financial presence and Sophia’s bank gave her the book Silent Safety: Best Practices of Protecting the Affluent. The absurd title reminded me of the scene in Beetlejuice right after Alec Baldwin’s and Geena Davis’ characters had crossed over to the other side and found their copy of the Handbook for the Recently Deceased, proclaiming "This book reads like stereo instructions."
Self-proclaimed “anti-fashion”, #GIRLBOSS isn’t regurgitating all of the ways to break into the industry by those who have come before. Instead, she demands that you forge your own path and know when to re-write the rules. If I had to crystallize the lessons I learned to end this little book report, it would be the following: “Don’t be lazy” and “Keep it weird”.
Now, go out and do it (whatever your "it" is).