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Nasty Gal's Sophia Amoruso on #GIRLBOSS and the Power of Clothing

It’s actually kind of amazing that Sophia Amoruso took the time to sit down and write a book. Not because she’s too cool for school (though she is), or because she doesn’t care what people think about her rise to fame (though she doesn’t). It’s because she is just too damn busy kicking ass to worry about explaining how one should go about kicking ass.

And anyway, #GIRLBOSS, her 2014 New York Times bestseller, which just became available in paperback, is not a how-to. Nor is it a memoir, or an autobiography, or a feminist manifesto. Or any kind of manifesto, for that matter. #GIRLBOSS is your incredibly cool best friend, sitting down with you over cocktails and telling you the secrets of her success. You might be eyeing her backless, fringed leather jacket with jealousy, but you can respect that she worked her little tail off to earn it. And, she reminds you with a clink, you can, too.

Amoruso is the 31-year-old owner of Nasty Gal, a $100 million online fashion retailer, which she founded in 2008. Originally called Nasty Gal Vintage, the business began as a modest eBay store. With an unwavering commitment to her customers and a work ethic that makes Oprah look lazy, Amoruso developed a loyal following around her brand, and created a social media presence that was on point before people even knew that was important. If there were people in those early days who thought she was a flash in the pan, or too young to be business-savvy, she couldn’t hear them over the sound of her profits quadrupling in size year over year.

The book title alone should tell you that Amoruso is in solidly in touch with the Millennial generation. (It starts with a hashtag, for crying out loud.) But for all her digital prowess – the New York Times has called her the “Cinderella of Tech” – Amoruso is an artist, an old soul, and she thinks that building a business is not all that different from creating a work of art, as New Times found out during a recent phone interview with her in advance of her Monday, October 5, book-signing at Changing Hands in Phoenix.

“I think what I enjoy is cobbling things together…photography, recruiting great people… you could call that business, but it’s also creative.”

In #GIRLBOSS, Amoruso shares stories about growing up weird and feeling out of place, convinced that she was born in the wrong decade. A natural introvert, she started her vintage retail shop online so that she wouldn’t have to deal with people face-to-face. Seven years later, she is the face of Nasty Gal, and the company’s message is clear: Feeling confident about your style is as important as whatever your style may be.

“Clothing can transform you, and transform the way you feel,” Amoruso says. “And I think that is a really powerful thing. And if you can have fun with it, why not?”

Her unprecedented success and natural gift for entrepreneurship begs the question, however: Is it truly a passion for fashion that drives Sophia Amoruso? Or something else? Would she be as happy and as successful if she were building an empire around gadgets, say, instead of Gucci?

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“I could see myself doing other types of business-y things and being happy,” she admits.

And then, with a laugh:

“Maybe not as well-dressed.”

Sophia Amoruso will be at Changing Hands Bookstore in Phoenix on Monday, October 5, at 11:30 a.m. to sign her book, #GIRLBOSS, now out in paperback. Ticket is free with book purchase ($16), and neighboring restaurant Southern Rail is offering a special lunch discount for event-goers, too. See details at www.changinghands.com.

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