Naughty in Name Only: Sophia Amoruso’s Nasty Gal

I don’t really follow fashion trends, but I appreciate great stories when I read about the industry. The New York Times profiles Sophia Amoruso and the fashion company she founded, Nasty Gal:

“People say: ‘Nasty Gal? What’s that?’ ” Ms. Amoruso, now 28, said in an interview at her new headquarters in downtown Los Angeles. “I tell them, ‘It’s the fastest-growing retailer in the country.’ ”

Back in 2006, she toyed with the idea of going to photography school, but couldn’t stomach the debt. Instead, she quit her job and started an eBay page to sell some of the vintage designer items she found rummaging through Goodwill bins. She bought a Chanel jacket at a Salvation Army store for $8 and sold it for $1,000. She found Yves Saint Laurent clothing online on the cheap by Googling misspellings of the designer’s name, reasoning that anyone who didn’t know how to spell Yves Saint Laurent probably didn’t realize his value.

She styled, photographed, captioned and shipped each product herself and sold about 25 items a week. She named the eBay page “Nasty Gal” after the 1975 album by Betty Davis — not the smoky-eyed film star Bette Davis, but the unabashedly sexy funk singer and style icon Betty, whose brief marriage to the jazz legend Miles Davis inspired the song “Back Seat Betty.”

Now this is an example of a loyal fan base:

That constant conversation with customers created a loyal following. Nasty Gal has no marketing team, but fans comment on its every Facebook, Instagram, TwitterTumblr, and Pinterest post and regularly post pictures of themselves in their Nasty Gal finds. A quarter of Nasty Gal’s 550,000 customers visit the site daily for six minutes; the top 10 percent return more than 100 times a month.

Pretty incredible to start from a small eBay store and mature to a $100 million business in a few short years.

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