Lessons from Sophia Amoruso’s Nasty Gal filing for bankruptcy


This morning I joined 1000 women to hear Sophia Amoruso talk at the Business Chicks event. I’ve been following Sophia ever since I picked up a copy of her bestselling book #girlboss, religiously listening to her podcast #girlboss radio and keeping up to date with her journey on social media (in a totally non-creepy way). Obviously I’m a big fan, so it was a no-brainer for me to cough up for the expensive ticket to see Sophia on her exclusive Australian tour. Then last night the news broke that Nasty Gal, the online fashion retailer that Sophia founded, filed for bankruptcy. I didn’t know what to think. What would she say? Would she refuse to answer questions about this huge development? Pretend it wasn’t happening? How did she feel being in Australia with such huge events happening to her business at home?

A "wild ride"

The one thing that attracts me to Sophia is her authenticity. While it may sound wanky, she’s anything but… cracking lame jokes and laughing at her own toilet humour. If you’ve listened to #girlboss radio, you’ll know exactly what I mean. Sophia’s loyal listeners tune in every week cause she tells it like it is.

And today was no exception.

After a week of - let’s face it - pretty big lows for people who value women’s rights and democratic values, by the time I made it to the breakfast I didn’t know what to expect. But I was blown away by Sophia’s honesty. Talking about the Nasty Gal news, Sophia said:

“It’s wild, I didn’t expect it to happen while I was here … Options were on the table and were considered and ultimately what is crazy is that filing for Chapter 11 relief was actually the most responsible thing to do right now.”

(Chapter 11 is part of the bankruptcy code in the US).

While Sophia stepped down from her position as CEO of Nasty Gal a couple of years ago, you’ve got to admit that this took guts. Less than 24 hours after this HUGE event, getting up in front of 1000 strangers talking about the things in your life that are shitty and tough, is huge. Breaking down on stage, Sophia was as raw as ever.

As someone whose purpose is to bring women together and build us up, Sophia’s guts got me thinking about what we can learn from this. While it’s beyond most of our comprehension to know what she’s going through on a professional level, there were some other gems from Sophia’s talk today I had to share.

You have to throw yourself at stuff to see what sticks. It’s like throwing spaghetti at a wall.

“I failed a lot before I started [Nasty Gal] at 22."

There’s so much pressure to do something big, make a name for yourself these days. As someone who has changed careers and tried so many things along the way, it can be hard when it feels like nothing sticks. When you watch your friends go straight down a career path, everything seeming to fall into place, it’s hard to feel like the spaghetti tossed on the floor!

Sophia admits that it took time, some shitty jobs and a lot of guts to get where she is today. And with a new book Nasty Galaxy, a growing podcast and a Netflix series loosely based around her life on the way, there's no doubt that she's still throwing spaghetti at the wall... and it's sticking.

You can’t ask for advice if you don’t admit where you are.

Sophia has an incredible network of mentors and friends, who she often taps into for the #girlboss podcast (seriously, check it out). I loved this piece of advice because as someone who often internalises my issues and concerns, it’s a reminder that honesty goes a long way. People want to help, but they need to know where you are.

Step 1, is of course, admitting to yourself where you are... and in my experience, that's often the hardest part. Nasty Gal's bankruptcy comes off the back of a tumultuous couple of years. While I don't know the ins and outs of the US bankruptcy system, Sophia hinted that Nasty Gal is likely to be for sale... and with a Netflix series coming out telling the story of her brand and story, the Nasty Gal brand is by no means down and out. Let's face it, if Sophia can get up on stage 24 hours after what she admits is one of the toughest weeks of her life and talk candidly about her challenges, we can open up a bit about the challenges in our lives too.

We're stronger than we know

Life is full of ups and downs, and 2016 has had it's share of lows for Sophia (and many people I know!).

When quizzed on her recent events (Sophia also got divorced three months ago), and how on earth she had the strength to be in front of so many strangers this morning, Sophia said that our mental strength is much like physical strength... we build up muscle memory. Every hard time is making us stronger, and will help us get through the next challenge. Over time, we get stronger. We just have to keep building our strength.

Supporting each other is more important than ever.

I don’t need to rehash the events of the world this week here. Needless to say, I don’t feel alone in my despair. Against the backdrop of these negative events, the hateful and degrading talk, we have to all come together, to stand up for what’s right and what we believe in. Movements like #girlboss are more important now than ever before.

And on that note, I want to wrap up with this post from #Girlboss I saw on Instagram last night, which feels fitting for this post and where we are at right now.

#girlboss, sophia amoruso

(image credit: instagram/girlboss)

Phoebe x

(header image credit girlboss.com ... while you are there, make sure you check out the podcast!)