Sophia Amoruso: Growing with Intention

5 years ago by

Photos Lou Mora

I met Sophia Amoroso at the offices of her new company, Girlboss. I had always been intrigued by her personality, her creativity, and obviously that crazy success ride she’s been on. Building Nasty Gal, this huge company from absolutely nothing but creativity and perfectionism, making a name for herself, and then having to stomach the company filing for bankrucpty in an incredibly public way… It takes a lot to come back from that.

And she did, with her new adventure, Girlboss, a community of amazing women who are defining success on their own terms.

I’ve loved how raw and real she is. It’s something that always touches me in other women. Listening to our conversation, you’ll probably agree that it was time we met.

[podcast_episode episode=”260150″ ]

pardon my french sophia amoruso atelier dorephoto

pardon my french sophia amoruso atelier dorephoto

On leaving home at seventeen…
It wasn’t scary. Staying home was kind of scary. I just felt really trapped. I felt like I was ready to start living my life much earlier than the world was set up for me to. Not that I was a responsible adult at seventeen when I moved out or even for the few years after that. I don’t even know that I am now.

On being a lazy public speaker…
I’ve spoken at a bazillion events, but I only do Q&As because I’m lazy and I don’t like doing homework and I don’t really prepare. Talking for thirty or forty five minutes without another set of eyeballs that you’re actually speaking at is really unnatural. I’ve had a few coaches, but I still haven’t nailed it. I can’t give a speech. And so I’m going on this immersive four day thing and hopefully on the tail end of it, I’ll be able to talk for forty five minutes. There are certain things that I want to be good at that I have to take time to be good at.

On hitting low points in life…
I found myself arrested for shoplifting, dating an alcoholic, with a court date for my arrest on the same day I went to get an abortion. That was a moment when I was like this is so trashy, I don’t belong here. I had to have the women’s clinic send a note to the court to tell them why I couldn’t be there. I think they felt so bad for me, they just dismissed it. Oh, and I was stripping, so that was a really low point, at about 20 years old.

On always loving vintage…
My mom tried to take me to the mall and was horrified that I wanted to wear used clothes. She worked so hard for me to have things, and I was like, “No mom, I want to wear this brown paisley piece of shit that’s like polyester.” I’ve always always loved vintage clothing and kind of digging for and unearthing things. I like being the first to something.

Sophia Amoruso: Growing with Intention

On finding your talents…
It’s tough being in your early twenties and beyond and asking yourself what is my talent. This whole world is built on the idea that we’re all supposed to understand what our talent is or our passion is before you even start applying to colleges. For someone who seemed to have such low standards given what I just described, I actually had huge ambitions. Not like financially, I wanted to be a photographer. In high school I though I wanted to be a filmmaker. You don’t know how to find these things. Do they find you, do you find them, do you have to find it in school?

On having money…
The best thing about having money is being generous. I’m not naturally super generous. I’m like, “I worked for that, or no…that’s my cookie, or whatever.” And being like no sweat, you know, is a really cool thing. Being able to help your parents is a really cool thing. But, it’s not really that rewarding. It’s kind of like a lobotomy. I think if you don’t stay curious, having money can make your brain kind of melt a little bit. You don’t have to think about as many things.

On getting back up…
I’m still in this awesome phase of my life where people still care about what I’m doing, but I’ve totally accepted that 10 years from now that might not be the case. That’s why I’m working really, really hard and why I got up as soon as Nasty Gal fell. There are finite periods of time when you can capture opportunities in your career and in your life and I’m trying to do that and not take it for granted and be grateful for it.

pardon my french sophia amoruso atelier dorephoto

On lessons learned…
With Girlboss Media, which is what I’m doing now, it is so amazing to be on my second company after having lived out the things I didn’t even know I was making decisions about, just by not doing them or not communicating something or not resolving with employees or whatever, starting early with intention with this company feels really good. I know what the team needs to be successful and it’s my number one job to provide that for them and remove the roadblocks and to improve the process and make sure people are communicating and feel like they have autonomy in their roles and have the tools they need to make decisions without everything going through me.

On the moment Nasty Gal crashed…
We filed for Chapter 11 the day Donald Trump was elected. I was in Australia, and it had been a series of Hail Marys that fell through. It’s hard to talk about without talking about everyone who was involved and everyone’s role in it, and I had a huge responsibility as part of it. It wasn’t something that I didn’t see coming from a very long ways away. I cried, and I felt relief. It was almost eleven years of my life. It was my entire twenties. I was really proud of what I had built. I tried really fucking hard. I felt trapped in my own business at a certain point. I mean it’s devastating. It’s devastating that there were vendors affected by it, you know, people you owe money to. Our employees were obviously affected by it.

On redefining success for women…
So there’s about eleven of us here in LA. We are, gosh, we’re redefining success for women—with them. We’re not choosing the definition, it’s individual to everybody. And that incorporates work and money, but also wellness and our personal lives, and our friendships, our relationships and our health. We’re creating content around that, building community, and creating experiences.

Sophia Amoruso: Growing with Intention

Other things discussed…
Gabby Burnstein
Saul Williams
Nasty Gal by Betty Davis
San Pedro Mart

Be sure to checkout Girlboss and the upcoming Girlboss rally in NYC. Sophia’s third book, The Girlboss Workbook: An Interactive Journal for Winning at Life, comes out October 24. For more regular updates, check her out here, here and here!


Add yours
  • such two inspiring women! it was really time to hear them both on the same podcast!

  • I had heard of Nasty Gal but not of Sophia. What a woman! She’s quite an example of how one’s teens don’t need to define one’s life.
    BTW, how do you get on Stitcher? Or is there another Android podcast app that you’re on?

  • girlpower <3

  • When I first read about the Nasty Gal I was just in awe.
    I have loved vintage and I wanted to be like her: to style vintage pieces so that everyone would want them! (That’s how she started on ebay, I read).
    Amazing woman and super stylish, too!

  • Very interesting interview with a woman who is tough as nails, dynamic and fashionable …all at the same time. I can never get enough about this woman – and her level of honesty about living is unparalleled.

    The trajectory of Nasty Girl was super explosive and I’d love to know more about that — but Girlboss is a logical next step.

    Thanks for sharing intel on such a powerful female.

  • Love her earrings, where are they from?

  • Je sais qu’elle a fait pleins de podcasts mais là j’ai encore plus apprécié son histoire. Je trouve que des femmes racontant les moments où elles ont touché le fond avec autant d’honnêteté sont rares. Et les photos sont magnifiques !

  • Sophia is… THE girlboss! I follow her for so long! I read her books, I followed Nasty Gal and I loved hearing this interview! I wish this was an interview in video, I was really curious about both of yours expressions!

  • I’m sometimes sad that I didn’t have the guts to stand up against my parents when I was younger. I wanted to fly out of the nest very soon but as an only child and daughter…do I need so say more? On the other hand I wouldn’t have wanted all her experiences. But she does have GUTS a lot I think. Now I do my utmost best to live my life at the fullest in a way I want. @fabiduister

  • Can we talk about Garance unbound ? Yes I am referring to her hair. A success really, the relaxing hasn’t transformed you waves in ugly drumsticks. Kudos to your hairdresser.

  • Her honesty is so appreciated. You can fail, but as long as you care about others involved, understand what happened and appreciate all you have learned to start better, smarter and more aware next time, I respect you. Nice interview!

  • Florence October, 17 2017, 5:32 / Reply

    J’adore son franc-parler même si des fois c’est un peu trop brut de décoffrage à mon goût! Mais en même temps c’est telle rare et qui plus dans ce secteur que s’en est rafraichissant. Elle est comme elle est, et c’est super! Merci de nous faire “rencontrer” des femmes absolument de tout bord. Dans un tout autre style cela te rapproche de La Poudre de Lauren Bastide. Bref, #girlpower

  • Jorge Alexandre Teixeira October, 18 2017, 2:53 / Reply


  • Great post ! I am so moved by the way Sophia handled the very public bankruptcy of Nasty Girl . This is not an easy thing and takes such strength, therefore one of my brava awards !
    Dress The Part

  • Danielle October, 18 2017, 4:03 / Reply

    No real discussion of the numerous discrimination lawsuits levelled against Nasty Gal while Amoruso was in charge? For disability discrimination, and for ‘restructuring’ every pregnant employee out of the company? Or the lawsuits from various independent designers (most of whom are women) alleging copyright infringement of their work? It’s all here: If you’re serious about empowering women, please don’t gloss over this stuff, it’s disingenuous.

  • :(
    Sometimes the less you say the better. Or, if you really have to talk about every little detail of your long “journey”, at least try to make it interesting and mysterious. Pick a few interesting details, don’t overload on information and don’t be indulgent. Too much is too much. Choose well what you talk about. People will always remember the negative things.

  • Racheljoy October, 26 2017, 7:56 / Reply

    I have been loving PMF, and it just gets better and better. Violette, Sophia, and Menstrual Cups (which btw I couldn’t find the episode page for, and the main reason for my comment!!).

    It was such a weird coincidence, as literally the day before I had stumbled upon one of the cups online (hello IG adverts), I can’t recall which one, but it led me to doing more and more research, but only online reading. You can imagine how surprised and grateful I was when the Pocket PMF came out. For me, it’s one of those things that no amount of marketing can sell – you need proper reviews, and not ones in texts. I want to hear the enthusiasm (or lack of) in the voices of those reviewing because then I trust it more! lol. I also NEVER would have thought to go onto YouTube for reviews either, so thanks for the heads up on the 17y/o.
    Could you confirm what the channel is?

    Like Garance, I moved from tampons to towels. I have an IUD (copper coil, non-hormonal) as birth control (which I absolutely love) so learning to manage or prevent cramps is useful. Towels, I have found are the best. But I would like to try the cup for many reasons; the environment, not being able to feel any discomfort etc etc. Is it Carie, and Natalie that use the cup? Have you noticed any significant changes in the ph Balance down there, i.e. any smells or sensitivity to thrush? I found that with tampons, and wondered if the cup did the same.

    Finally, just as a tip I swear by for managing my menstrual cycle and hormones – Cold pressed EVENING PRIMROSE OIL (in soft Gel capsules). Whenever I slip on taking these, I always see a negative difference in my cycle so I religiously take them daily, although If you’re organised enough, a week/2 prior to your first day, will suffice! It truly promotes a regular cycle; and I have personally found it to decrease bloating, and cramps. The flow tends to be less heavy than when I haven’t taken them, and also helps with breakouts, and let’s not forget the everyday benefits of better skin and hair from the Vitamin E.
    Hope this helps!

    Look forward to more on this subject!

  • Hi! The episode pages for Pocket PMF are different than for the full length episodes, you can find them here in our mini section! So glad this episode resonated with you. This is the Youtube channel we love – Precious Star Pads.

    Yes it is Carie and I who use the cup! Personally I haven’t noticed any negative change in pH or sensitivity. If anything, you realize that any scents are actually from tampons, and not from your body / the blood. Really couldn’t list any negative effects from the cup, at least for me. I’ve heard great things about Primrose! Going to give it a try. I’m super interested in reading this book called Woman Code – all about cycles, fertility, hormones, etc. xx

  • Racheljoy October, 26 2017, 12:03

    Thanks Natalie, I actually found the page right after I posted my comment (just seen it, hello ESSAY!).

    Thanks again for the information, do give evening primrose oil a try and I will give the book a go!


  • Charlotte Falk December, 7 2017, 12:09 / Reply

    I’ve been a daily reader of this site for years, since the beginning really, and am quite disappointed by this piece. No mention of the discrimination suits levelled against Amoruso? NastyGal went to court for routinely terminating pregnant women. No mention of the copyright infringement suits, brought on primarily by women designers and artists? How could you talk to her and not discuss these issues that directly impact women – your audience? If she isn’t guilty of these actions against women, than give her a chance to speak to that, and if she is – why is she on your site?!?!?!

  • I had heard of Nasty Gal but not of Sophia. What a woman! She’s quite an example of how one’s teens don’t need to define one’s life.
    BTW, how do you get on Stitcher? Or is there another Android podcast app that you’re on?

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