Nasty Gal’s bankruptcy is not the end of its era

Nasty Gal, the multimillion-dollar fashion retailer created by innovator Sophia Amoruso, and one of my favorite clothing companies, filed for bankruptcy last week in the midst of legal trademark disputes. I write this column with utter shock and grief because although the store will continue to operate, Amoruso will step down as a chief executive while the company restructures.

It feels like just yesterday when my mother came home and surprised me with “#GIRLBOSS,” Amoruso’s book that contains advice for young women and anecdotes from her life and journey with Nasty Gal. I began reading the book the same day and didn’t want to put it down, for its seemingly never-ending supply of information and inspiration.

In the part-advice novel, part-autobiography, Amoruso details her life as a college dropout who used eBay and Myspace to transform her business into a leading fashion destination. At 22 years old, she would go to estate sales, and would take styled pictures of herself and friends wearing clothes bought from the deceased, putting the items up for bid online. Using great customer service, catering to what her audience wanted and curating effective imagery and clothing, Nasty Gal came into fruition in 2006, becoming the face of social-media driven fashion businesses.

It wasn’t easy. In her book, Amoruso wrote about dumpster diving, stealing from Walmart and rejecting anti-depressants. But she created a name for herself on her own, and didn’t need to use a large wad of cash or premium education to do so. She takes this experience to encourage young girls and women to follow their dreams and never stop believing.

It wasn’t until last year that I discovered the magic of Nasty Gal. As I began to revamp my personal style, I found its clothing to be daring, confident and sexy: exactly what I wanted in my wardrobe. I loved showing my friends the latest pieces in my shopping cart — particular favorites being a shaggy, bright pink jacket, a “Let’s Bone” t-shirt and NYX Bruised lipstick.

Amoruso’s book came at a time of doubt and uncertainty in myself and fashion career. I was in a period of transition, and didn’t know what I wanted to do or how I could merge my passions of shopping, styling and photography. But after reading “#GIRLBOSS,” I was confident and had a new sense of purpose.

I figured if Amoruso could build an empire with her creativity, motivation and limited resources, so could I. Suddenly, Nasty Gal became a part of my vision board; I wanted to follow in her footsteps. I would study Nasty Gal’s editorials daily, reading product descriptions and learning about the latest trends set by Amoruso. I bought myself a new camera, snapped pictures of my friends in thrifted clothing and created look-books of my own.

Amoruso taught me that you can find solutions by changing perspectives; that a #GIRLBOSS is in charge of her life and gets what she wants because she works for it. I learned the world is yours to discover and create, that risk-takers must be okay with failing and trying again, that positive things come to those who are positive and that good style takes creativity, confidence, self-awareness and a bit of work.

She marketed her book in morning news segments, and magazines like Elle, Glamour and Teen Vogue got behind her. She created a movement of #GIRLBOSSes worldwide, creating the #GIRLBOSS foundation, an organization that gives grants to female entrepreneurs. As it did with myself, I’m sure these initiatives strengthened customer relationships with Nasty Gal’s clothing and brand culture, in addition to providing hope to budding female fashionistas.

To this day, I still believe in Sophia Amoruso and her power. Last month, I got her latest book, “Nasty Galaxy.” Since, I’ve opened its pages every day for a look inside the talent inspiring Nasty Gal. This bankruptcy will not be the end of her reign. Through me and the other ladies Amoruso has liberated and empowered, her vision of tenacious and free women will live on.

Darriea Clark is a junior magazine journalism major. You can reach her at or follow her on Twitter @babefromthesun.


Top Stories