Sophia Amoruso on How Girlboss Media Will Differ From Other Women's Publications
The Nasty Gal founder opens up about the new company, which just raised $1.2 million in funding.
"It’s the second brand I’ve started on accident but the first business I’ve started intentionally,” says Sophia Amoruso of Girlboss Media, a new all-encompassing media company built from the Girlboss brand she launched in 2014 with the publication of her best-selling memoir of the same name.
The first “accident,” of course, was Nasty Gal, the e-commerce site she launched in 2006 as an eBay store, which was acquired by British etailer Boohoo earlier this year. Though it had been valued at $300 million in 2015, due to growing pains in the increasingly competitive e-commerce market as well as a few PR mishaps, the company filed for bankruptcy in November of 2016. Amoruso herself stepped down from her position as CEO of the L.A.-based Nasty Gal in 2015. However, the fashion mogul, now 33, was still largely involved with the brand that made a name for itself with a spunky attitude and brash voice.
Girlboss Media is comprised of a website, Girlboss.com, and a newsletter, as well as the resurrection of Amoruso’s podcast, which she launched in her Nasty Gal days and which at one point had 100,000 weekly downloads. The Girlboss podcast will relaunch on Wednesday with an episode featuring Bad Feminist author Roxane Gay.
Another important component of the company are the biannual conferences — or “rallies,” as the brand calls them — the first of which took place in L.A. this March with a crowd of 500 attendees who congregated to hear 50 speakers — including Glossier’s Emily Weiss and comedienne and actress Whitney Cummings, as well as several female executives and entrepreneurs — speak on a range of topics from finance to wellness to beauty to sex.
A second rally is being planned for this fall in New York City, and there are plans to eventually grow them internationally. With a millennial audience, which, as we know, prefers spending money on experiences rather than things, Amoruso notes the importance of the IRL feature. “We’ve also done events with [personal finance app] Mint with about 100 women, and so we can scale up or scale down,” she adds. “We’ll have more ongoing experiential events throughout the year in between the rallies."
But in a sea of competing female-focused outlets, what exactly sets Girlboss content apart? “Girlboss is emerging out of something very different than what most women’s media brands have, which is beauty and fashion,” said Amoruso, who recently raised $1.2 million in funding for the venture and hired as chief revenue officer Alison Wyatt, the former CRO at Goop, and COO and editor-in-chief Neha Gandhi, the former senior vp content strategy at Refinery29. “We do cover beauty and will eventually spend more time with fashion, but our core is about our reader’s life as a whole. I think it’s become trendy to have a conversation about a variety of topics like feminism and finance, but for us, it’s where Girlboss came from.”
Girlboss.com has been publishing articles since earlier this summer (one staff writer, Deena Drewis, was a former Girlboss grant recipient, another program which Amoruso is carrying over from her Nasty Gal days), with Amoruso’s signature, snarky tone omnipresent in each post. The opening line of an article titled, “Sugar Made Out of Breast Milk Could Be the Next Big Thing in Health” for example, reads, “The contingency of jerk-offs made squeamish by the concept of women breastfeeding in public better take a seat for this one.” Other featured articles targeting the readership, whose average age is 27, include “Bachelorette Parties Are a Legit Reason You Can’t Afford a Home” and “How to Survive a Brutal Hangover at Work: An Illustrated Guide.”
Most of the editorial content is created by a team of L.A.-based women, including alums from Mashable, Clique Media Group (Who What Wear, Byrdie) and other SoCal-based creatives like photographer Daria Kobayashi Ritch, who was commissioned to shoot colorful stock images for the site, which is mostly made up of a collage of Broad City gifs and millennial pink everything.
Like all modern media companies, Girlboss media recognizes the importance of diversifying and creating content across several platforms, including video. Amoruso noted that during the first rally in Los Angeles, the brand banked over 20 hours of video content. With a producing credit under her belt (Amoruso shared an EP credit with Charlize Theron on the short-lived Netflix series, Girlboss, based loosely on her memoir) the CEO is also considering dabbling in the entertainment realm as well. “I’ve sold one show, and we’re in Los Angeles, so I’ll absolutely spend some time thinking about how we can grow beyond our own channels and have the conversation that we’re having in as many places as possible,” she said.
As for how her own experiences over the past decade building the Nasty Gal empire have come to influence this venture, she adds, “My experience is very unique in that I started my own company at 22, I’m a white woman who grew up in a relatively middle class home, so that’s one view for sure. Yes, I’ve experienced a lot of things that our audience relates to, but from a representation perspective, it’s really important to us to be inclusive to every type of woman.”