While this past week saw the loss of Netflix’s "The Get Down," I engaged in my own binge of another of their shows: "Girl Boss." The show documents how the words “Nasty Gal” became a brand, but more importantly, a brand owned by one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30. Sophia Amoruso’s eBay-store-turned-online-empire influenced the industry in a newfound way and just recently, did the same for me.
Though the show is a loose interpretation of Amoruso’s real life, it keeps the guts of the story in place. It awed me; here was a female anti-hero, who with quirky methods, a smart mouth, and very little money, built a multi-million dollar industry. The character the creators established, played by Britt Robertson, has a definite go-getter attitude, and it’s a trait easily admired. True to life, she deals with crushing consistent struggles, whether having destroyed credit because of a forgotten Victoria’s Secret credit card, or going dumpster-diving for a daily meal. While Amoruso made her first auction off a stolen textbook, the show depicts her as purchasing a thrifted, vintage jacket for nine dollars, and reselling it for a few hundred dollars. This, in essence, was the initiation of Nasty Gal— a 23-year-old woman in her bedroom selling vintage clothes for striking profits. The character summarizes the process in saying: “You know how people flip houses? I flip clothes.”
Her “rags to riches” story is naturally sped up — documenting Amoruso’s transitions between office spaces, her selection of warehouse shelving, and her hiring tactics might’ve cost the show its fast-paced spunk. The shortened story, both in book and on screen is influential. The breakdowns, the petty theft, the angst — they all feel far more natural than the recycled, honest business model that dominates the industry. There is nothing wholesome about her journey, and I often found myself labeling her character a jerk throughout the show. Nevertheless, I finished the series wanting more. There’s a definite “Can I do this too?” motivation that succeeds the viewing.
The company filed for bankruptcy just prior to the show’s release; projected sales were falling, complaints against the site were rising, and employees were tired of Amoruso’s tactics. There is a bounty of accusations concerning her firing workers for being pregnant. Why then, has this story— dare I say — changed me?
Amoruso is honest. She knows that she’s not going to be wholly loved by viewers like me, she knows that she’s nontraditional, and she posits that that’s okay. She admits the regularity of failure and of screwing up, but she encourages the ability to move on. There’s a cookie-cutter model for the average, successful businesswoman, and while Amoruso has worked as hard as her, she’s genuine about having gotten her hands dirty doing it. Even if she’s not a laudable feminist, her take on being your own boss is hard to hate.