ByBrooke Geller, writer at
Awkward nerd, aspiring shieldmaiden and friend to all doggos.
Brooke Geller

If you love vintage fashion, strong female leads and Ru Paul, then Netflix's comedy series Girlboss might be right up your alley. Britt Robertson plays a feisty, fashion-mad eBay seller in this rags-to-riches tale of entrepreneurship, love and badassery. And the best part? It's based on a true story.

Girlboss is based on the autobiography of the same name written by Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso. Part memoir, part everything-I-know-about-business, Girlboss chronicles Amoruso's journey from shoplifting dumpster-diver to retail magnate, establishing a thriving online fashion store in just seven years— and all before the age of 30. The book sat on top of the New York Times bestseller list for almost 20 straight weeks. Now, three years later, the epic tale has been adapted to the screen.

But who the hell is Sophia Amoruso, and what exactly did she do to earn herself a Netflix series? Check out the true story of Girlboss and get ready to feel inspired:

Who The Hell Is Sophia Amoruso?

The self-made millionaire and self-proclaimed punk has had her fair share of success, pitfalls and controversy, and fought her way to success like no one had ever done before. And you'd better believe it was a long road to peddling vintage Chanel for top dollar.

In her autobiography, Amoruso claims to have fallen in love with vintage clothing at the age of 13. Diagnosed with depression and ADD just three years later, she dropped out of the tenth school she'd attended to be home-schooled. By 17 she'd left her family home and was living a somewhat anarchistic lifestyle, swapping capitalist conventions for freegan crust punk ideologies: dumpster-diving, hitchhiking and squatting her way up and down the West coast.

Suffice to say, Amoruso had figured out the conventional road to success and adulthood, and she didn't particularly care for it.

Forever feeling like an outsider, she stole and sold books to support herself— just like in Trainspotting, minus the hard drugs. But much like Trainspotting's Renton, she was eventually busted. It was the wake-up call she needed to end her fleeting time as an anarchistic youth. She sought out traditional jobs, but not a single one managed to stick— she was even fired from her job at a high-end shoe store.

So how does someone go from being an anti-capitalist to a millionaire in just ten years? For Amoruso, all it took was determination, a reliable internet connection and a hell of a lot of burgers.

It All Began In A Pool House

In 2006, one year after being fired from the aforementioned shoe store, Amoruso was working a fairly menial job checking IDs at an art school. It was a job that afforded her plenty of spare time to browse the internet, where she stumbled across the world of online vintage sellers. A vintage fiend herself, she decided to put her fashion knowledge, spare time and photography skills to good use and turn a profit. And thus her eBay store, Nasty Gal Vintage, was born.

Unable to rely on credit, she funded everything out of her own pocket, running the entire operation out of the pool house she rented. Amoruso used friend-adding software to accumulate thousands of "friends", and potential customers, on then-popular Myspace; a brilliant free marketing strategy. She subsisted entirely on burgers and Starbucks alone, paying her models in their choice of either burgers or a single $20 note.

Nevertheless, her hard work paid off. She would spend her spare time raiding estate sales and thrift stores for hidden gems to resell, often managing to turn a massive profit off particularly lucky finds. At one point she scored two vintage Chanel jackets for $8 each. She sold them for more than $1,500.

Amoruso was absolutely killing it with eBay, making more money than she'd ever made in her life. Unfortunately, her own cunning ways would soon put an end to her eBay glory.

Ebay Bites Back

Like any online retail platform, eBay has user policies that all sellers must abide by. One of these rules stipulates that sellers are not permitted to leave links to external websites in their listings.

Amoruso had already been planning on moving her operation off eBay and onto her own website, but little did she know it was about to happen sooner than she'd imagined. She claims to have been kicked off the site after leaving the address for her new website on her eBay account.

She'd cut her teeth on eBay; the platform allowed her to learn the ropes of retail, and now she was ready to spread her wings and fly. In 2008, she left eBay behind for good. Nasty Gal now had its own website, warehouse and even staff.

Things only continued to improve for Amoruso and Nasty Gal. Their rapid expansion meant constant relocations to even bigger warehouses, hiring more staff and selling a lot more clothes. The daily challenge of running a rapidly growing company satiated Amoruso's ADD, and she continued to nurture Nasty Gal to further heights.

The company branched our from its regular vintage focus and began selling other, modern brands, eventually producing their own Nasty Gal collection. The company was making millions, collaborating with the likes of Courtney Love and M.A.C., and even opened two stores in California. Things were looking absolutely peachy.

Controversy & Bankruptcy

As wild as the ride was, it looked like what goes up must come down. Both Amoruso and her company experienced more than their fair share of controversy, and things soon went downhill.

Etsy seller Saylor Rose accused Nasty Gal of stealing her jewelry designs on an Instagram post in 2013. Amoruso stepped in, calling Saylor Rose a "single mom of an Etsy scrapbooker" and telling her that being "knocked off" is a "right of passage". In fact, she sarcastically congratulated her.

The accusations of copied designs didn't end there. Pamela Love sued the company in 2016 for alleged stolen jewelry designs. Nasty Gal then committed another Instagram blunder in 2015 when they posted a red carpet photo of Taylor Swift in what they claimed was a Nasty Gal brand jumpsuit. It was Balmain.

In 2015, things went from bad to worse. Amoruso stepped down from her position as CEO, realizing she was better suited to the duties of an executive chairman. It was around this time that complaints from former employees began emerging from the woodwork. Nasty Gal faced multiple lawsuits from women who claimed they were discriminated against and unlawfully terminated. Some of them were pregnant women who were fired during a massive lay-off.

A year later, Nasty Gal filed for bankruptcy; they were bought out by BooHoo. Nasty Gal's brick-and-mortar stores remain permanently closed.

The Dawn Of

So what's a Girlboss to do without her empire? Start a new one, apparently. She's continued to spread the message of her book, now peddling both the hashtag and ethos. The Foundation gives grants to women in artistic fields, such as fashion, helping them to achieve the success that Amoruso once experienced.

The foundation runs the Girlboss Rally, a series of talks by female entrepreneurs coupled with digital content for prospective businesswomen. Amoruso also hosts a weekly podcast branded as Radio, gleaning wisdom from fellow Girlbosses and dishing out the sage advice from the best in the business.

Amoruso may never quite shake the bad reputation that came with her public attack of those who claimed Nasty Gal ripped them off, or the way her company treated their employees. Nevertheless, she's determined to forge a new image of herself as a mentor to businesswomen everywhere. Netflix's Girlboss looks sure to grant an intriguing insight in to where it all began for Amoruso, and before it all went wrong for Nasty Gal.

Are you excited for Netflix's Girlboss?


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