Nasty Gal founder launches Girlboss Media with $1.2M in seed funding
Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso is pivoting from apparel retail to content, snagging $1.2 million in seed investments to expand her Girlboss Radio podcast into a media company, Girlboss Media, Women's Wear Daily reports.
The site, building a brand from Amoruso’s memoir title, aims to further the goals of the Girlboss Foundation, which, since its launch in 2014, has given over $120,000 in financial grants to women in various creative fields, according to the site.
Nasty Gal was marked from the start with the defiant and entrepreneurial spirit of its founder. As recounted in her book "Girlboss" (also developed into a short-lived Netflix series), Amoruso got her retail start in her early 20s, selling vintage fashions and other finds — sometimes purchased, sometimes shoplifted — on eBay, and turned that into a respectable e-commerce enterprise.
In January 2015, she stepped down as CEO of Nasty Gal in an effort to bring the business to a new level of maturity, handing the reins to retail veteran Sheree Waterson, who previously served as president. Former Apple retail guru and failed J.C. Penney CEO Ron Johnson early in 2015 led a $16 million Series C funding round, after boosting the company with funds to help it open its first store on Los Angeles' Melrose Avenue. A second location followed in May 2015.
The brand continued to struggle, however, beset by reports that it cheated employees of benefits like maternity leave, and by critical reviews for a collaboration with controversial singer Courtney Love. The retailer failed to grow beyond its cult following among young millennial women favoring its edgy apparel and sensibilities, and, like many other e-commerce sites, it struggled in the face of competition from fast-fashion brands like Forever 21 and Zara, which are nimble enough to react to new apparel trends and quickly change up their merchandise.
Now Girlboss is working to reach that demographic with content that includes short articles, Amoruso's "Girlboss" podcast and a foundation that aims to support young entrepreneurs. The articles are breezy pieces showcasing advice like how to set up your LinkedIn profile, how to get a quick hit of happiness and how to make money in the gig economy. The site boasts a promise to help young women realize their dreams, big and small, in a seemingly contradictory "shame-free, lame-free zone."
The site has abandoned Nasty Gal's urban, graffiti-esque font for a poppy bubble-gum one, and, at least for now, features no retail. “I feel like I’m less in a transitional period than I have been for the last few years actually because Nasty Gal was finding its way and there were changes over the course of the last two years — some of them weren’t fun, and I did my very best,” Amoruso said at a March "Girlboss Rally" in March, according to WWD. “‘Girlboss’ was a book I wrote. I never planned to do anything more with it, but it could become much more.”
- Women’s Wear Daily What to Watch: Sophia Amoruso — Take Two
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