Lessons from an OG Girlboss

by Caroline Bonhaus

Confession time: As much as I’d love to say I learned the story of Sophia Amoruso, founder of NastyGal clothing, through her autobiography, #GIRLBOSS, it was actually introduced to me when a Netflix series popped up on my suggestions during a loooong night of binge watching TV. I had just graduated high school, and I remember having so much pent-up ambition to get out in the world and get to work, but with absolutely no idea how to get anywhere. I decided to get out from behind my laptop screen and pick up her book. Her unapologetic resilience story sparked a new season of self-discovery and growth for me and the way I approach work.

Amoruso, while she may be unconventional and not necessarily the perfect role model, managed to pack so much wisdom into her autobiography that I actually had to read it a few times to fully grasp everything she was saying. She grew up as a wild-child in the suburbs along the West Coast, in and out of what she refers to as her “shitty jobs,” working her way to find her passion. She found her groove in an unlikely corner of the internet at the time: eBay. Amoruso started her eBay store selling vintage clothing as she scavenged in estate sales to thrift stores for the most “on-brand” pieces, and eventually started up her own website in 2006. Because of Amoruso’s genius knack for social media at the time, “NastyGal Vintage” skyrocketed to popularity, becoming one of the fastest-growing retail companies in history. Pretty impressive for a 22-year old with an eBay account and an idea.

In #GIRLBOSS, Sophia outlines some of the most important lessons for a successful career that she learned through her years of hustling:

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“Know when to follow the rules and when to rewrite them”

Rules exist everywhere. Society, fashion, school, you name it. As much as we might hate to follow them, a lot of rules exist for a reason and do much more help than harm (it took me a few years to figure this one out — still working on it). What Amoruso is getting at here is that it’s important that we follow the rules of adulthood, whether that’s paying our bills or playing fair in school. However, there are some that we all blindly follow for no apparent reason other than the fact that everyone else is. I am a victim of it too; maybe the worst out of anyone. I’ve found myself paying obscene amounts of money while online shopping to keep up with a latest trend and then when it comes time to wear the outfit that everyone else has, I realize I don’t even like it! This culture of societal rules is only worsened by Instagram ads and influencers that flood our phones every second of the day. However, once you decide what you like and stick with it, there can be such a sense of freedom, and even fun, in breaking the rules that don’t matter.

“Shitty jobs save lives”

This is one of Amoruso’s biggest points throughout #GIRLBOSS, as she depicts her ridiculous revolving door of jobs, from being a ~Sandwich Artist~ at Subway to selling orthopedic shoes in a shopping mall. She uses some of her disastrous job experiences to show us that in order to eventually reach that top position you’ve been dreaming of, you’re most likely going to have to do some jobs you don’t necessarily love, and that is okay. Sophia really drives home the point that no job is beneath you, no matter what you may think or what other people tell you. Because once you get the shot to go for the job of your dreams, you’ll have a million of those smaller skills to bring to the table that you’ve learned piece by piece along the way. Take this as some motivation to make it through another day of whatever job you may be dealing with now: you got it, sis.

“Money looks better in the bank than on your feet.”

I love Carrie Bradshaw more than anyone, I really do. But I have to disagree when she says “I like my money where I can see it, hanging in my closet.” Don’t get me wrong! I am a strong believer in splurging every once in a while on things that make you happy, but I think all of us can fall victim to using “treat yo’self” as a get-out-of-jail free card to carelessly spend money. One of Amoruso’s best words of wisdom in the whole book is when she says to spend and invest your money in things because they make you or your business better, not because you don’t have anything else to do or are following a trend. This can be so difficult in college and beyond, but becoming aware of where you are blowing cash can be revolutionary to the way you approach the money you worked your butt off for. Try making a list of your weekly expenses and you’ll be shocked at how much you spend on the “little things”- I dare you.

#GIRLBOSS packs such a huge punch into such a small book, and Amoruso seamlessly blends her personal triumphs and defeats with universal advice for #girlbosses of all ages, backgrounds, or professions. So, in the wise words of the vintage queen herself, “There’s a chance for you, #girlboss. So take it.”