So I guess I've been living under a rock. Or just oblivious. I was flipping through my latest issue of Elle and the headline "Talk Dirty to Me" grabbed my attention. As I read on, I got the full scoop on the LA-based online retailer Nasty Gal and how it evolved from 28-year-old founder Sophia Amoruso simply selling vintage and thrifted finds on ebay.
In case you are new to the brand like me, Nasty Gal sells streetwear that falls on the more risque end of the H&M and Topshop spectrum, all mostly priced under $100. But, as the article said, "the site also promulgates an ethos: a blithe, sexy spirit that feels 100% Californian in its riffs on surf, skate, and music-festival cultures and its emphasis on the fearless and enthusiastic display of one's body. "
The interesting and exciting thing about Nasty Gal is it's exponential growth with little advertising or outside investing. The article states, "They are succeeding in the very niche where many brick-and-mortar companies fail. In the age of social media, if a brand's communication doesn't seem authentic, it's almost worse than not communicating at all. For the Gen-Y consumer born roughly between 1980 and 2000, the whole culture is about transparency and honesty, and identifying with real individuals that you can relate to." And for founder Sophia Amoruso, she doesn't have to hire a consultant to tell her how to talk to her customers in an aspirational yet down to earth voice- she just is one.
Amuruso said the original motivation for selling clothes on ebay was to keep her from having to work for anyone else. She said in the article that she wasn't a career person, and I think Nasty Gal's clothes reflect that carefree spirit. She started out by scouring Goodwill, then photographing and styling her finds on friends and models she found on Myspace. The secret, she feels, was in her styling. Instead of presenting the pieces by themselves, she remixed vintage from disparate eras in a modern way- quickly learning the rules of perceived value. One neon kids sweater with a hole in the armpit sold for $500- largely due to the advant garde way she presented it.
The company name was borrowed from the hypersexual 1975 Betty Davis album. Davis was a 70s punk-funk and was beyond merely sexy or strong- she was defiant, uncompromising, an original badass. Amoruso says, "I think it's pretty obvious to our customers that some big corporations isn't behind something that was named as flippantly as my business."
Although Amoruso states that her company isn't about feminism (that's too preachy for her liking), most of the employees feel it gives them a certain confidence. The mantra around the office is that "Nasty Gals are not sexy for someone else- they are sexy for themselves."
I find this story so inspiring because it reiterates the point that nowadays you don't have to slave away making a living doing something you don't want to do. Amuruso had a penchant for remixing vintage with modern, knew how to style clothes, and knew what she liked- and she eventually built a successful business out of it. As women become more and more prevalent in the workforce, I find it refreshing to see a woman who never really saw herself
as a "career person" now running a company that is very natural to who she is. It's not a large retailer selling women's clothes that is run by a bunch of men (ahem Victoria's Secret).
Ok, enough career talk for Saturday night. I'm off to the Red Hot Chili Peppers concert. And I wish I was wearing this Nasty Gal dress. ;)
*all pictures via Nasty Gal Facebook Page.
*I was not compensated in any way for this post about Nasty Gal. All opinions are 100% my own.