5 Entrepreneurial Lessons from Sophia Amoruso of Nasty Gal

sophia amoruso

In her 2014 New York Times Best Seller, #Girlboss, Sophia Amoruso shares her change in life and mindset as she grew from a dumpster diving anti-capitalist to founding Nasty Gal, one of the fastest growing retailers on the planet.

A lot of her experiences as a budding entrepreneur hit close to home for me and I’m sure you will find a little bit of yourself in her and these 7 entrepreneurial lessons you can learn from Sophia Amoruso:

  1. It’s not easy. Expect to put in a lot of hard work.
    A successful business doesn’t just happen overnight and it’s certainly not a matter of luck. Sophia Amoruso proves that a focus on quality, excellent customer service, and putting in the hours will lead you to profit. These elements led to the growth of a business from a single person operation on ebay to a huge operation with hundreds of employees and a distribution center in Kentucky.

“I took every item I sold seriously, obsessing to ensure my customers had a great experience,” she writes about the start of her business. “I cared as much about the process as I did about the results. No decision was too small. Whether it was the word choice in a product description or the expression on a model’s face, I treated everything with the utmost care.”

No one is going to lay opportunities in your lap or hold your hand to make success happen for you. The fact is, no one will care more about your future than you do. You have to decide on your path and take actions that will make your business happen. You can’t just sit around hoping and wishing for a profitable business so you can leave your day job. You need momentum and the only way to get it is to work on it every day.

  1. Your attitude and perspective will absolutely affect the outcome.
    If you aren’t passionate about what you do, you are not going to perform well. That goes for anyone in the traditional job market and anyone trying to branch out on their own. “If you’re bored and hating it,” Sophia Amoruso says, “It’s a big sign that you’re most likely in the wrong place.”

This is why starting with the primary goal of making money -asking yourself what will make you a shitload of money and going with that idea- is not going to get you where you want to go.

It all starts with taking something you are good at and passionate about and packaging it in a way that truly helps other people.

You also will not do well in life if you opt to not give a damn about profits or view business as something unattainable…or even evil. Anti-capitalism is the antithesis of bringing your gift to the world. Working hard to earn the resources that will help you do more good things, including creating more products that help people or even supporting nonprofits that you believe in is, in fact, the whole point of business.

Amoruso explains the importance of perspective perfectly when she said, “I entered adulthood believing that capitalism was a scam, but I’ve instead found that it’s a kind of alchemy. You combine hard work, creativity, and self-determination, and things start to happen. And once you start to understand that alchemy, or even just recognize it, you can begin to see the world in a different way.”

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The economy is not a zero sum game. If you decide to participate and be valuable -to someone else other than yourself- you can succeed and you will make money. And you can even make a difference in many people’s lives in the process.

  1. You don’t have to do things a certain way just because it’s the way other people are doing them or because it’s the way it’s always been done.
    Straight and narrow is not the only path to success and Sophia Amuroso is the poster child. Not formally educated and a self-described rebel, she proves that there are many lessons about business to be learned and you cannot get them all at university. Amoruso learned how to build a business in the real world.
  1. Focus on small tests and follow the number to hit it big.
    “We started buying units of six, testing the waters to see what sold and what didn’t,” wrote Sophia Amoruso. “If it sold, we learned. If it didn’t sell, we learned.”

This talented woman was testing the market without even knowing she was testing the market. She also intuitively performed customer research to get to know the typical Nasty Gal customer. Knowing that this was an important part of developing inventory that would fly off the shelves was obviously a main contributor to the retailer’s growth.


  1. As your business grows, you’ll grow too.
    You will change a lot as you grow your business, learn new skills, and become a leader who is depended on by your employees and partners. Amoruso went from solitary work in a tiny guesthouse to leading hundreds of employees and putting other capable people in management roles.

Every day will be a learning experience and, as long as you continue loving your company and loving what you do, the mistakes and failures will only get you closer to where you want to be.

“As the business grew, I grew, and the ambiguity that once terrified me became something I thrived on.”


Check out the rest of the Fempreneur Series:
Is Ida Tarbell the OG Arianna Huffington
10 Entrepreneurial Lessons from Coco Chanel
6 Entrepreneurial Lessons from Sara Blakely of Spanx
5 Entrepreneurial Lessons from Victoria Tsai of Tatcha

Ludell Jones

Ludell Jones

Co-Owner & Marketing Director at Eazl
5 years of small business and entrepreneurship experience. 9 years of marketing experience. Loves community development through ethical business practices and well being/positive psychology research. Located in Chicago.
Ludell Jones