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How Girlboss's Sophia Amoruso continues to chart her career course

The fashion entrepreneur shares how she bounced back – and flourished – after her company went bankrupt.
Image: Founder and CEO of Girlboss Sophia Amoruso speaks on stage
Founder and CEO of Girlboss Sophia Amoruso speaks on stage at the 2018 Girlboss Rally at Magic Box on April 28, 2018 in Los Angeles.Rich Fury / Getty Images for Girlboss file

Sophia Amoruso’s career trajectory launched with lightning speed. At just 22 years old, she started the online retailer Nasty Gal, “largely on accident.” It wasn’t long before the company was valued at hundreds of millions of dollars. With its success came accolades, the press — and then the eventual decline. In 2016, Nasty Gal filed for bankruptcy, forcing Amoruso to start over.

What she demonstrated next was that you can’t keep a Girlboss down. In fact, that moniker became the name of her subsequent book, a series about her life on Netflix, and her new entrepreneurial venture.

“A Girlboss is someone who learns from their mistakes; who doesn’t see failure as the final thing; who is constantly seeking to improve herself, her career; [someone] who is really an active participant in her future and is always learning and curating what happens next,” Amoruso told Know Your Value.

Amoruso was transparent about her growing pains when she spoke at ColorComm’s 5th annual conference in Maui, Hawaii, in June. In the session, “Girlboss to Girlboss,” with ColorComm’s founder Lauren Wesley Wilson, the two women provided a candid glimpse of how they navigate the often difficult waters of entrepreneurship.

“I want everyone who I touch and Girlboss touches to feel like they have permission to go define their own version of success,” Amoruso said. “A lot of us don’t really realize that everyone else in the world is bluffing until they get there.”

It’s a lesson Amoruso had to learn the hard way. An audience was there to applaud Nasty Gal’s apparent success. They remained to document its failure. In a very public way, Amoruso had to learn from her mistakes while simultaneously rebuilding her career.

“I mean it’s survival, right? We all have to work. When things get tough you have to keep going,” Amoruso said. “It’s just the matter of having the confidence to be like ‘I did this. I did something. It didn’t work out but I’m definitely capable and I can carry what I learned then to what happens next.’”

It’s that very same grit and resilience Girlboss instills in millennial women, while reminding them not to expect anything to be handed to them.

“You have to ask for what you want. Your boss probably isn’t thinking about you,” Amoruso said. “We really have to go remind people that you’re around, of what you’ve achieved, your worth and be proactive in that regard.”

Through the lessons learned in her career journey, she strives to demonstrate the value of taking the reins and being a CEO of her life and career. It’s advice she gives to women, whether they want to start a business or not.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re working for someone else or starting a company, you have to be entrepreneurial.”