Friday 6 December 2019

Books: How to be a top business 'gal'

The cover of '#Girlboss' shows author Sophia Amoruso, Nasty Gal's founder and CEO, standing defiantly against a pale pink background, hands on hips, in a severe black dress that plunges below her rib cage.

Amoruso's sexy outfit fits with the aesthetic of Nasty Gal, a popular online retailer. The company had $100m (€71.7m) in revenue in 2013, a ton of money considering that no one older than 35 or male seems to have heard of it. Amoruso's only 30 years old, and her personal story is a big part of the brand. She never went to college and held just a few menial jobs before starting Nasty Gal as a vintage clothing store on Ebay in 2006.

By 2010, Amoruso had given up vintage and turned the business into what it is today, a trendy shopping site aimed at women who like to show a little (a lot of) skin.

'#Girlboss's' mission is to empower those slightly-rebellious twentysomethings paying $100 (€78) for Nasty Gal crop tops and sheer-panelled dresses. Amoruso defines a #Girlboss as "someone who's in charge of her own life. She gets what she wants because she works for it." She writes that the book "will not teach you how to get rich quick, break into the fashion industry, or start a business. It is not a feminist manifesto nor a memoir." Instead, it will instruct you how to "project yourself into an awesome life where you can do whatever you want." Awesome.

The book actually is mainly a memoir, starting from when she was an oddball child with a knack for fashion, getting into her defiant young adulthood, and then going in deep on the formation of her company. There's some work advice woven in – during interviews, don't dress "like you're headed to a nightclub instead of a job interview," i.e. don't wear anything from Nasty Gal – as well as interstitial first-person chapters by other #Girlbosses, such as the Man Repeller fashion blogger Leandra Medine and Refinery29 editor-in-chief Christene Barberich.

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Amoruso is chatty and confessional. Everything is "bulls-?-?-" or "awesome" or "not my jam." She's also relatable, admitting to constantly feeling overwhelmed and uncertain in business situations. "I felt like a fraud for a long time," she writes. "As if there was no way in hell I was qualified."

'#Girlboss' is targeting the same readers as Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg's updated and acclaimed 'Lean In for Graduates', which came out in April. The message is basically the same: work hard girls, and your dreams can come true. Don't let men stomp all over you. So buy '#Girlboss' for your daughter. Then try to keep her away from Nasty Gal.

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