By: Thalia Pedrotti
Skeptics might never believe that a community college dropout with little fashion experience could build a successful online retail business in just six years. But Sophia Amoruso did just that. The 28-year-old founder and chief executive behind Nasty Gal began selling one-of-a-kind vintage clothing on eBay from her San Francisco apartment in 2006. She personally styled, photographed, and shipped all her clothing.
The far from sweet name, Nasty Gal, comes from the album and song title of American funk, rock and soul singer Betty Davis. The singer’s confident attitude and sexy lyrics inspired Amoruso and epitomized her vision of femininity.
Amoruso believes one of the key factors to her success on eBay was the unique way she styled and presented her clothing. She believes that by putting a piece of clothing on the right girl and showing people how to wear it, she created a vision that customers wanted to have.
After a year and a half of working on eBay, Amoruso launched Nasty Gal in June 2008 as a website where customers could find affordable pieces of clothing. The site now offers vintage and trendy clothing, accessories, and shoes- as well as its own clothing line and luxury designer items such as Dolce & Gabbana dresses.
Isabella Sanchez, a senior at SMU, has keenly followed the brand since its beginnings. “When I first started shopping on the website it was a very beginner website,” Sanchez says. “It didn’t have key features that it offers today to its shoppers. Even the delivery packages were different.” She says she never would have imagined that the site would offer its own clothing line as well as designer items.
In its short four years of existence, Nasty Gal has attracted over 150,000 shoppers in more than 50 countries.
Today, Nasty Gal is the 11th largest fastest-growing private company in the U.S. according to the Inc. 500 magazine list. It is also the fastest-growing company based in Los Angeles with total revenue of $22.9 million in 2011.
Nasty Gal’s business model challenges the way online retailers do business. The site offers a limited number of pieces and 93 percent of its inventory is sold at full price, which sets itself apart from its competitors.
Nasty Gal’s innovative marketing methods defy the status quo. The brand does not use traditional strategies to reach customers and promote its products. It relies solely on word-of-mouth and social media.
This approach has proven to be successful for the brand, as evidenced by the brand’s 521,778 Facebook likes and 65,996 Twitter followers. In addition, Nasty Gal has an Instagram, Tumbler and Pinterest profiles to promote its products.
To increase its presence online and create a closer relationship with its clients, Nasty Gal also maintains a blog that reflects its clienteles’ cool quality. The blog has unusual titles for its different offerings, like the “Artsy Fartsy” section where viewers can find all types of edgy and creative photos. Blog visitors also find numerous opportunities to explore everything from style, favorite places, music and more.
This September, Nasty Gal launched its first biannual print magazine publication. For this first edition, famous fashion photographer Terry Richardson shot the Nasty Gal Fall 2012 Collection. The magazine contains articles on fashion, music and culture and is distributed with customers’ orders.
Lucia Lopez, a senior at SMU, got the magazine’s first issue and describes it as being artistic and unique. She says the magazine is appealing to young girls who want to be trendy and cool and have a love for fashion.
Kate Egan, an SMU senior, describes a Nasty Gal as being “a girl looking for unique and interesting articles of clothing without splurging or paying exorbitant amounts of money.”
So, are you a “Nasty Gal?”