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REVIEW: #GIRLBOSS

REVIEW: #GIRLBOSS

The book-jacket bio says, “Sophia Amoruso turned her hobby selling vintage clothing on eBay into Nasty Gal, which was named ‘fastest growing retailer’ by Inc magazine in 2012.  This is her first book.  She lives in Los Angeles.”


PRODUCT: (book)  #GIRLBOSS

Author:  Sophia Amoruso

Publisher:  Portfolio/Penguin, GP Putnam’s Sons (2014)


The book is part memoir, part philosophical discourse with tips on how to dance down the Freedom Road on your own outlier terms.  It’s spiced with snippets of thought-streams from other Girl Bosses who are also doing that very thing.

A CAVEAT

I need to state a caveat here:  I am a fan of the lady and of the company so it is unlikely that this will be an unbiased review.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?

I can understand why thousands of wanna-be fashionistas the world over flocked to the eBay shop, Nasty Gal Vintage, to participate in the shop’s weekly auctions.  Its intriguing mix of offerings were fashion options not found in a typical mall store, for one thing.  Amoruso’s customers and fans helped the young, wide-eyed anarchist of a budding style maven grow her virtual shop into a $100 million-plus corporation in a little over seven years.

The girl set up a gypsy camp in the middle of eBay’s ultra-nostalgic retro-babes and kitschy craft and folk art crowd.  From the start, Nasty Gal Vintage was different.

Amoruso laid out her thrift-shop finds and costumery with a definite, edgy outsider attitude.  She labored obsessively, developing her buyer’s eye and perfecting her sales pitch and presentation, constantly improving her photographic layouts and descriptive copy, all the while offering exceptional service to her customers.

The little rag shop took the world by storm, stomping through the fences of small e-Biz cow pastures as she used her impressive social media skills to build her following.  The shop caught on and kept expanding until she was able to move out of eBay into the wider, wilder world of higher fashion where she continues to carve a niche of her very own.

THE BACK-STORY

Amoruso’s remarkable journey began after she had bottomed out.  The footloose freegan lifestyle she had adopted as a youngster had dead-ended and she boomeranged home with a satchel-full of lessons learned and a crummy credit score.

She had made it through many mistakes and misadventures very fast and emerged relatively unscathed.  She had learned what NOT to do; she knew she had to do different.  So she did – step-by-step-by-step.  It worked.

LESSONS SHARED

In #GIRLBOSS, Amoruso recounts what her focus on radical experimentation in empirical thinking and growth-by-practical-application required of her and where it took her.  The basic thought-sequence for this style of dancing goes like this:

  • What happens if I do this?  [Go do it.]
  • Did it work?
    • Yes? [Cool!  Do it again…]
    • No? [Rats!  Do something else.]
  • Repeat, repeat, repeat.

This strategy is Amoruso’s basic approach to life:  continuous experimentation and balls-to-the-wall-chutzpah execution.  With this as her primary mode of operation, Amoruso’s shop grew and so did she.

She tells us she earned her virtual MBA by doing this dance.  Doors opened when she took wild chances and pounded on them boldly.  There were knowledgeable people along the way who were willing to help the eager-beaver learner.  She attracted like-minded others who had their own skills to add to her own and keep the thing moving along.  There were more adventurous experiments to try.  It kept on be-bopping on as the blood, sweat, and tears flowed.

THE TAKEAWAY

My own takeaway from all this razzmatazz can be summarized by one quote from Amoruso.  “When you approach everything as if it’s a big, fun experiment, then it’s not that big of a deal if things don’t work out.  If the plan changes, that can be even better.  There are secret opportunities hidden inside very failure….”

FINAL NOTES

I do recommend this book as a fun read.  The author does take her bootstrap-business-that-grew with utmost seriousness, but she takes her own self and her life so far lightly.  It is a winsome combination.

For people who are already trying to flow with the ambiguity and uncertainty of just diving in there and swimming like mad while staying alert and making course corrections all along the way, #GIRLBOSS can be a joyous bit of inspiration.

And maybe the more cautious among us might be inclined to loosen our holds on our own tightly gripped, obsessively detailed five- and ten-year life plans with all our lists of prioritized imperative goals and got-to’s that grew out of them.  Maybe it will help us take a look at what we are doing now and pay closer attention to how the world is actually responding to our moves.

This, I am thinking, is a very good thing.

And here’s a poem….


TELL ME….

Child, there are so many

Inequities and injustices

That if the Heavens wept for them

The rain would never stop.

All I’m hearing are

The things you are against, against, against.

There are so many.

 

“Tell me what you’re for, young rebel.

Tell me what you dream.”

 

Your angry strident voice delineates

The he-did-this and

The she-did-that and

The they-did-wrong and

The it-ain’t-right.

You keep shouting, “No, no, no!”

And the anger rises, bursting

Through blood-red rage

Into a white-hot cauterizing

Flame of righteous indignation.

 

“Tell me what you’re for, young rebel.

Tell me what you dream.”

 

Once I was as you are;

Raised up the banners high,

A shining maiden-knight on my gallant steed,

Leading a charge against overwhelming odds.

Glorious, it was…

And mostly nothing changed –

Just shifted like a miasmic mist

Morphing into other vagaries.

 

“Tell me what you’re for, young rebel.

Tell me what you dream.”

 

My bright and shining armor

Grew dented and dusty,

My stout, strong heart

Grew battered, grew weary.

The enemy hordes kept coming,

Kept coming, kept coming,

Breaking through, overwhelming every stand

In their relentless numbers.

One me.

Many them.

Inevitable outcome.

 

“Tell me what you’re for, young rebel.

Tell me what you dream.”

 

On the side of the road where I had fallen,

An old rogue stood, looking down

At the wreck of me.

His twinkling eyes sparkled

As he reached out his hand

And hauled me back up on my feet.

And that is when he said,

 

“Tell me what you’re for, young rebel.

Tell me what you dream.”

by Netta Kanoho

picture credit:  via Amazon.com

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