Sophia Amoruso Shares the Career Advice She Wishes She'd Known
Sophia Amoruso needs no introduction—because if you’re like millions of others, you’ve already bought her bestselling book #Girlboss, listened to her wildly popular podcast, and binge-watched her Netflix TV show. Now the Nasty Gal entrepreneur has started a new chapter as founder and CEO of Girlboss Media, which expands upon her badass ethos (and empire). “We are reframing the conversation around success by having real, vulnerable talks about work, money, friendship, sex, mental health, wellness, and more,” she told us. “I want Girlboss to be the big sister I never had and a hug to everyone who thinks their struggle is theirs alone.” Below, get Sophia’s advice about overcoming failure, redefining success, and moving on (from dream jobs and dudes alike).
What were you like as a teen?
I was angst on wheels. I respected few adults, hated school, and felt misunderstood by most of my peers. I grew up in a relatively homogeneous town where fitting in at all costs was the name of the game, and I'm just not wired for that. By late high school, I wore no makeup, had hairy legs, and switched from public school to home-school in a last ditch effort to stay enrolled. I ended up moving out at 17 and getting my diploma in the mail.
As an adult, what do you wish you could tell your teenage self now?
Good job! Good job for getting out of the suburbs, for seeing the world, for trying things, for falling on your face, and for getting up when things get hard. And to calm down just a little bit. You don't have to do everything when you're young.
How exactly did you get to where you are now, professionally?
It's a long story that I detailed in my first book, #Girlboss. I fumbled through some community college courses and found myself selling vintage clothing on eBay at 22. I did that for a decade, wrote the book about it, built a $300 million business, got married, got divorced, went bankrupt, and then Netflix made a show about it all. Essentially, though, I made it through with perseverance, tenacity, scrappiness, Google, and some great people by my side.
What's one thing you wish you had known then that you know now about having a career?
To be careful what you get yourself into, because it's hard to turn off something that's rolling. I had no idea I would spend a decade running Nasty Gal, which was my first business, and a decade is a very long first "real job." Also that the more you do when you're young, the more you've done when you're just a little older, which puts you at an advantage in your early thirties, where I am now.
What’s your advice for a girl who wants to turn her side hustle into a career?
Don't quit your day job until it's really rolling! Being an entrepreneur is hard, so be truly ready when you make that big move. I know it's seen as honorable to work for yourself, but it's not for everyone and so many individuals can have a lot of freedom and be entrepreneurs within an organization as well. It's not fun and often lonely being the boss.
It’s hard not to take the business side of business—the haters, the doubters, the investors who don’t believe in you—personally. What’s your advice for dealing?
Oh man, the media has been so unkind to me! When you have something, there's always something to lose—and that comes with the territory. Someone told me recently that "if you're not getting sued, you're not working hard enough.” I'm not sure I agree with that, but just know that controversy comes with the equation when you put yourself out there, no matter how hard you try or how nice you are. I have learned a LOT in the public eye, with much of what's said about me being true, but so much untrue. Sadly, people read the headline and not the correction. The world is made up of truths written by those who have the platform to make them louder than the rest—don't believe what you read. The world is made of smoke and mirrors, and with a good gas mask you can rise to the top as everyone else fawns over themselves in the egotistical hall of mirrors.
What’s one misconception that you want to correct about being a female entrepreneur?
That we're treated the same as men. What I've done, a thousand men have done on a larger scale for hundreds of years and it rarely makes headlines. It's sad but true.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I never thought I'd celebrate my divorce, but it's final as of today! Being on the receiving end of a breakup is tough, but I'm past the noise and it feels great to be free.
P.S. Sophia and Girlboss have a pretty cool email, too. Sign up here!