Leadership Lessons: Sophia Amoruso

Leadership Lessons: Sophia Amoruso

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You may not know who Sophia Amoruso is but you have probably heard the term ‘Girl Boss’. Girl Boss was the title of Sophia’s memoir, published in 2014. The book followed her journey from a community college dropout to the CEO of a company worth close to $300million USD.  

Sophia Amoruso Amaruso Girl Boss Memoir Book

It would be easy to look at Sophia’s story and see it as an example of getting lucky with a business. Or a born entrepreneur who just needed the right venture. Dig a little deeper though and she is a walking demonstration of the role resilience plays in your success. 

Her journey to get to where she is now has been chock full of stumbling blocks. Both professionally and personally she has received multiple setbacks. Failings which could have left her mortified and feeling far from a ‘Girl Boss’, but she’s ridden them out and found ways to keep growing. 


The daughter of solidly middle-class parents, Sophia was a bit of a rebel. But she was a rebel with ambition. She had a hunger for independence which saw her devouring books about start-ups and CEOs as a yungun. By the time she was 22 her spirit had seen her work through virtually 10 retail jobs. She found far more in the working world to rebel against than to sign up to. 

When she first began what would eventually evolve into “Nasty Gal” she was living with her step-aunt, shoplifting and dating a dude who slept in a treehouse. After deciding that “dumpster diving” wasn’t what she wanted for her future, she began selling clothes on ebay under ‘Nasty Gal Vintage’. 

Eight years later, Nasty Gal had sold over $100 million in clothing and accessories, occupied a 65,000-square-foot office space in Los Angeles, and employed over 350 people. Off the back of this success, Sophia launched a memoir which told the story of her journey. 

Sophia Amoruso 10 year challenge
A lot can change in 10 years

The book made her famous and saw her land a Netflix deal for a TV version. However whilst her identity as a ‘Girl Boss’ was embraced publicly, the company wasn’t coping with the rapid rate of expansion and in 2016 the company filed for Bankruptcy. Sophia Amoruso was the Girl Boss without a business.

“So in 2016, in a six-month period, I was on the cover of Forbes and then a month later, my husband of a year left me… That was in July, and then in November, on the day Trump was elected, we filed for Chapter 11… ” – Sophia Amoruso

The failing of the brand is widely credited to its rate of expansion – too many cooks in one kitchen to make good decisions. As the founder though, how do you recover from such a public failure? 

Well if Sophia is an example to go by you recover by committing to recovering. 

Sophia kept the ‘Girl Boss’ brand going, spending just a small amount of time each week on it, growing it as a media brand and women’s empowerment.

In July Sophia was back in the industry press as she announced her next venture under the ‘Girlboss’ umbrella. A networking site similar to LinkedIn, which encourages you to share more than just your work experience and bring more of who you are to the page. 

She’s pulled together some of the smartest connections she’s made on her journey and collectively they’re succeeding with this new venture.

“It’s a very high bar that I have to reach to even start a company called Girlboss, especially with what the past few years of my career have been… It’s masochistic to expose myself again. It’s terrifying.” ― Sophia Amoruso

Sophia girl boss rally 2019

So next time you’re embarrassed about a failing, whether personal or professional, think about Sophia. Consider having to go through that failing under the public gaze and decide whether you’re going to let it be the end of you, or make it just another interesting plot twist in your success story.

“No matter where you are in life, you’ll save a lot of time by not worrying too much about what other people think about you. The earlier in your life that you can learn that, the easier the rest of it will be.”Sophia Amoruso

About the Author

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