A bombshell came through the Twittersphere on Monday morning when celebrated young entrepreneur and original “girlboss” Sophia Amorus announced via Twitter that almost 13 years after founding her popular clothing brand, NastyGal, she had formally separated from the company. The news had been a few years in the making.
In 2006, Amorus founded clothing NastyGal as an eBay store at just 22 years old. By 2012, the company grew into an $100 million digital and bricks-and-mortar empire, and Amorus landed on Forbes’ list of America’s Richest Self-Made Women.
But what a difference a few years can make. By January 2015, trouble appeared to be brewing as Amorus stepped down as CEO of her brand, replaced by Sheree Waterson, a former Lululemon executive. At the time, Waterson said, “Our decision to initiate a court-supervised restructuring will enable us to address our immediate liquidity issues, restructure our balance sheet and correct structural issues including reducing our high occupancy costs and restoring compliance with our debt covenants,” adding that the company “expects to attract a new equity partner or sponsor to take the company forward with a healthy balance sheet,” according to Forbes.
By November 2015, Nasty Gal had filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy. According to Forbes, she tearfully addressed the news while on stage at a conference in Australia, saying, “Filing for bankruptcy is actually the most responsible decision for the business,” she said to the audience at the time.
Amorus made her announcement via an ominous tweet: a screen grab of an email from Nasty Gal’s Facebook page. It read:
You’re getting this email to confirm that you’re no longer an admin on Nasty Gal. You were removed February 28, 2017 at 9:43am.”
Amoruso captioned the tweet, “A decade above the influence comes to a close.”
A decade above the influence comes to a close. pic.twitter.com/m9lLcImLxP
— SOPHIA AMORUSO (@sophiaamoruso) March 6, 2017
Supporters rallied around Amoruso immediately, offering words of encouragement. “You’ve done a remarkable job w Nasty Gal. It’s so candid that you’re sharing this!,” tweeted Cassey Ho, fitness guru and creator of POP Pilates. Fan @DonaldlJoseph wrote, “there is so much more to come. I can’t wait to follow your journey,” and @KatherineKonzal added, “Love u, queen of the #girlboss spaceship.”
Amoruso — glamorous, successful, and powerful — made the term “girlboss” famous after penning the New York Times bestseller #GirlBoss — part memoir, part business-advice book — which was published in May 2014 and embraced by a generation of ambitious Millennial female entrepreneurs. Amoruso extended GirlBoss into a brand that will culminate in a TV series of the same name, due to debut on Netflix in April, of which she is executive producer. She is also the host of the podcast #GirlBoss Radio.
It appears that although Amoruso’s fortune — and even reputation — may have taken a hit with the bankruptcy of and her separation from NastyGal, it appears Amoruso will continue building and expanding her GirlBoss brand. And she has high-profile cheerleaders in her corner, including Lena Dunham, who was quoted as saying, “#GIRLBOSS is more than a book . . . #GIRLBOSS is a movement.”
Amoruso followed up on the smashing success of her first book with a second, a coffee table book called Nasty Galaxy, which launched in October 2016. A departure from her original tome, her sophomore effort is described by Amazon as “Tactical and entertaining, envelope-pushing and conventional, surprising and refreshingly straightforward, Nasty Galaxy is a dive into Sophia’s philosophies on work, relationships, balance, friendships, and more. It is a celebration of her roots in vintage clothing, punk attitude, fringe characters, and don’t-give-a-fuck thought leadership.”
Meanwhile, the future of Nasty Gal hangs in the balance, but the company is reassuring its customers that while the company is going through a period of turmoil, it is determined to do right by its customers.