In honor of Hillary Kerr and Katherine Power’s new book, The Career Code: Must-Know Rules for a Strategic, Stylish, and Self-Made Career ($17), we’re running an interview series featuring 17 questions (in honor of the book’s 17 chapters) about the work lives of the most inspirational female leaders in the fashion industry. So far, we’ve tapped Rebecca Minkoff, Sally Singer, Rachel Zoe, and more. Up next? Sophia Amoruso.
There’s something about an unconventional path to success that feels infinitely more rewarding than a traditional route. Overcoming unexpected hurdles or taking a less-frequented road to the top not only lays the groundwork for an entertaining anecdote but also serves as proof that anything is within reach if you want it bad enough and work hard for it.
Such is the case for Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso. In 2006, the soon-to-be millionaire began selling her vintage finds on eBay under the shop title Nasty Gal Vintage. Within a mere five years, Amoruso had launched her own website and garnered a huge fan base, and now she sees a yearly revenue of over $100 million. But as most of you know, she didn’t stop there. Last year, the entrepreneur released #Girlboss, a New York Times 18-week best seller that, after such success, sparked the idea for a Netflix series, which will be co-produced by Charlize Theron and Amoruso and is expected to premiere early next year.
In late 2015, Amoruso also launched a podcast, Girlboss Radio, which features interviews with inspiring female figures each episode. She also will release a second book on October 4 of this year, titled Nasty Galaxy (seriously, does this woman sleep?). Inside the nontraditional coffee book, readers will be taken on a visual journey that’s meant to serve as a “new life bible for young women.”
Suffice it to say, Amoruso knows a thing or two about making a business thrive and is an inspiring example of what a successful woman in the workplace looks like.
So without further adieu, we present our latest installment of Career Code below!
“At this point, as the executive chairman of Nasty Gal, I’m there to make sure things orbit around my original vision, which is to be there for the girl that is fearless, irreverent, and in charge of her own life. Since I started hosting my podcast, Girlboss Radio, and have been building the Girlboss platform, my job is about shining light on other women’s stories. It’s been about making sure women and girls know that there’s really nothing they can’t do, showing them examples of this, and putting the tools out there for them.”
“It sounds stupid to complain about getting to travel a bunch, but it can be totally exhausting. Sometimes all I really want to do is lie on the couch with my three poodles and watch trashy television.”
“Well, my first job was as a ‘sandwich artist’ at Subway. I just walked over there from my house, so I’m sure I was wearing like baggy Dickies, a T-shirt, and skate shoes. Probably hadn’t washed my hair for a hot minute.”
“I’ve had the pleasure of hanging out with Diane von Furstenberg a bit, and she’s just incredible. She’s a legend, obviously—an infinite spring of wisdom and generosity. I’d love to have 30 minutes to talk shop with her whenever possible!”
“This sounds like promo speak, maybe, but I really rely a lot on the girls and women I work with. Creating an environment where your employees aren’t afraid to be candid about what inspires them, about why they’re really drawn to a personality or a brand or a website—that’s invaluable. When you talk to the people you work with, too, it’s this expansive web of knowledge; someone will always show you something you’ve never seen before, even if you feel like you’re really plugged in and paying attention.”
“I regret taking advice from certain people involved in my business who are more experienced than me. Not all of it, and I can’t be specific, but all I can say is that when you’re building something that has never been built, you have to do things that have never been done.”
“Someone who has a real, genuine, specific enthusiasm for the job they want can a lot of times trump someone with a more impressive résumé. I also love it when someone really owns their narrative. A well-written cover letter that’s elevated beyond ‘I’m a super hard worker’ goes a long way. It drives me crazy when someone thinks a task is beneath them, too—a lukewarm ‘sure’ should not be in your vocabulary. You also have to do your homework. It took me a little while to get to this point without feeling like a narcissist, but if you haven’t read my book—I mean, come on. It’s a couple hours of your life, and it’s basically a blueprint to the way I look at things.”
“This denim jumpsuit from Nasty Gal that makes me feel like I can do anything. With sexy pumps, it’s dumpy chic, and I can get away with any meeting in it!”
“Straightforward and down to earth. And she’d probably say something about me needing to find the humor in everything.”
“I’ll eat a cookie. Seriously. How can you feel bummed when you’re eating a cookie? You eat one, and the next thing you know, you’re moving right around the roadblock.”
“If it’s a job you liked and where you were treated well, quit with gratitude. But I did walk out on a couple of jobs early on. It’s not something I’d advocate for, but I did it.”
“I’m addicted to Sugarfish, which is a sushi restaurant. When the girls in the office ask about lunch, it’s kind of like it’s a rhetorical question. Sugarfish.”
“Not asking enough questions. You’re always there to learn no matter what job you’re in, but this is especially important when you’re starting out. As for my peers, I’d say getting too caught up in what other people are doing.”
“I love Idea Books (@Idea.Ltd), who always have rare and amazing gems for sale.
“Galen Pehrson (@GalenPehrson) is an amazing artist and director friend of mine who hand draws every frame of his gorgeous animations.
“Sielian Vintage (@SeilianVintage) has amazing pieces that I wish I could own all of!
“And Tuesday Bassen (@TuesdayBassen), an amazing illustrator who contributed to Nasty Galaxy!”
“In the morning, I like to work from home and take calls before I go into the office. It makes the day feel a little less long. After hours, I really try to let myself unwind. When I’m lucky, that means being at home with mezcal on the rocks.”
“My podcast, Girlboss Radio! We’re also busy planning the first Girlboss Rally, which I’m super excited about. It’s going to be a gathering of the smartest, most inspiring women. I’m also gearing up to go out on book tour for Nasty Galaxy in October. The Girlboss TV show is coming out on Netflix next year, and it’s been incredible to get to contribute to that process.”
Who should we interview next? Let us know in the comments below!