In 2006, Sophia Amoruso, a 22-year-old hitchhiking, dumpster-diving, community college dropout with a lot of time on her hands, launched an eBay store called Nasty Gal Vintage—a nod to bad-ass funk singer Betty Davis’ 1975 album. But this wasn’t your mom’s collection of cobwebby, shapeless tunics. Her fresh, edgy styling and MySpace savvy spawned a cult following of 60,000 fans. What began with a copy of Starting an eBay Business for Dummies, a steamer, and a knack for finding buried treasures among stuffy estate sales grew into a global brand.
Eight years later, Nasty Gal has sold over $100 million in clothing and accessories both new and vintage, occupies a 65,000-square-foot office space in Los Angeles, employs over 350 people, and has over one million fans on Facebook and Instagram.
Impressed? So was the rest of the world. Luckily for us, Amoruso shared her ballsy secrets in a self-help business memoir cheekily titled #GirlBoss out tomorrow. Here are four tips from the book that every career-minded woman should have in her back pocket—plus an exclusive interview with the #GirlBoss herself.
Do the Dirty Work (as Though You’re Nose-Deep in Pine Sol)
When Amoruso began her business, she was a one-woman merchandising, photographing, copywriting, and shipping machine. She got up at the crack of dawn to make 6 a.m. estate sales, haggled with thrift stores down to the cent, spent glazed-over hours Photoshopping the images she styled and shot herself (with models she recruited herself), and even ensured that the tedious packaging was high-quality.
“I’d grab an item and inspect to make sure it was in good shape. I’d zip zippers, button buttons, and hook hooks, then fold it and slide it into a clear plastic bag that I sealed with a sticker…Then I’d put it in a box and slap a shipping label on. Only I didn’t slap anything—I took a lot of pride in how carefully I affixed those labels. I had to assume that my customer was as particular and as concerned with the aesthetics as I was.”
Keep Your Goals in Sight, Literally
Amoruso believes in the use of sigils, abstract words or symbols that represent your goals. (Think of a word, then remove the duplicate letters and vowels, for example). As kooky as it sounds, she treats her Internet passwords as promises to herself or financial goals for the company. “Every time I go to log in anywhere, I’m subtly reminding myself of what I’m working for,” she wrote. “This ensures that when I’m bogged down with day-to-day bureaucracy and details, I don’t lose sight of what I really want.”
Leave Your Entitled ‘Tude At the Door
If you haven’t been at your job for a year, you better not be asking for a promotion already. Whining about your job because “you have more to offer” will not fly. “In an ideal world you’d never have to do things that are below your position, but this isn’t an ideal world and it’s never going to be…A lot of people in my generation don’t seem to get that you have to work your way up,” she wrote. “I don’t care if filing invoices is beneath you. If you don’t do it, who do you think is going to?”
Small Milestones Can Add Up to a Giant Enterprise
Amoruso admits that she never would have created a multimillion dollar business if that’s what she set out to do. Instead, she started small: buy clothes, take photos, upload them on eBay. “Starting it was as easy as picking a name and uploading the first auction. That instant gratification would never have come had my first step been to write a business plan. And without that instant gratification I might not have kept going,” she wrote. But luckily it did, and one auction led to another, which led to her own site, which led to her own designs, which led to her power brand.