From grunge to #GIRLBOSS in seven years
Sophia Amoruso is a #GIRLBOSS worth $280million dollars. She’s 32 years old, and a self-made multimillionaire. She’s a former hitchhiker and shoplifter. She paid for her Porsche in cash because even as she found success, her credit history was too poor for a loan. Sophia has been featured by Forbes, Inc and many more.
Sophia turned a one-woman eBay business into one of the biggest alternative fashion labels in the world, in part by using the largest social media site of the day – MySpace – to connect with her target market. Along the way, she became a role model to thousands of girls and women inspired by her journey.
If there’s one thing Sophia had an intrinsic knack for, it was marketing. Here are seven tips from her book #GIRLBOSS we could all do with remembering.
1. Dare to be different
“What made me successful wasn’t necessarily what I sold, but how I sold it… I focused on making my store as unique as possible. My customers responded – they were willing to pay more at Nasty Gal Vintage than they were at other stores.”
Build your brand from day one, just like Sophia did. There’s a reason why people pay $5 for a coffee at Starbucks and only $1.50 for the same thing in a small-time corner cafe – and it’s not that Starbucks coffee is just that incredible – it’s branding.
2. Pay serious attention to detail
“I’m the kind of person who pays attention to something as small as a crooked shipping label… I took a lot of pride in how carefully I affixed those labels. I had to assume that my customer was as particular and as concerned with aesthetics as I was.”
At the very beginning, Sophia’s whole business was a one-man (should that be woman) band being run out of a single room – but she didn’t want anyone receiving goods from her to realise that. She took extra care in making sure everything looked professional.
3. Offer your customers added value
“When I wrote product descriptions, I exalted the details. I included styling tips in the copy, in case someone was considering bidding on a Betty White-type windbreaker but wasn’t quite sure how to pull it off like MIA could… What we were really doing was helping girls to look and feel awesome before they left the house.”
Sophia wasn’t just selling a garment to her customers – she sold a whole look, maybe even a lifestyle. By going that step further in her product descriptions she gave her customers something beyond clothing to keep coming back for. She built a loyal, devoted following for her brand – a #GIRLBOSS tribe.
4. Don’t underestimate the work involved
“Many people assume that working from home is like a vacation, where you get to do what you want. This was not the case for me. The demands of eBay put me on the strictest schedule I had ever endured.”
Lots of people dream of starting an online businesses and becoming millionaires overnight with passive income building up while you sleep. For most people, that’s not the reality. Working from home can have huge advantages, but never underestimate the work building and marketing a business will take.
5. Listen to what your market wants
“Each week, I grew faster, smarter and more aware of what women wanted. And each week my auctions did better and better. If it sold, cool – I’d instantly go find more things like it. If it didn’t, I wouldn’t touch anything like it with a the-foot pole ever again.”
Don’t fall into the trap of giving your customers what you think they should want, rather than what they actually want. Sophia listened intently to what her buyers were telling her and, importantly, never made the same mistake twice. The results showed immediately in her profit margin.
6. If at first you don’t succeed…
“From Nasty Gal’s inception, I have always viewed the business as a work in progress. I constantly tweak and move on, peeling back the layers of the onion as new ones arrive. If something didn’t work – like if I put a dress up for auction and no one was bidding on it – I didn’t just assume that no one wanted it. I just tried something else. I rewrote the product description. I swapped out the thumbnail because I thought maybe people couldn’t judge the silhouette correctly from the original picture I’d posted. I never assumed I’d just done my best job the first time around.”
Sophia believed in her products with a passion – so if something wasn’t selling, she went back to look at how she had marketed it, and whether that could be improved. Crucially, she was prepared to recognise when something had gone on, and act to mitigate it. How often have we seen marketeers get it wrong, but forge on down a path that’s clearly mistaken instead of holding a hand up and saying “I screwed up”.
7. Start small and scale
“When you begin with the finish line in mind, you miss all the fun stuff along the way. The better approach is to tweak and grow, tweak and grow. I call it incremental potential… Dream big all you want – but know that the first step toward those dreams is probably going to be a small one.”
Our ever-wise #GIRLBOSS offers sound advice on getting realistic about your brand – you’re most likely not going to become a household name overnight, and while marketeers can and should think big, scalable growth is preferable to seeking investors to put a ton of money in right at the beginning. Give yourself the room to fail and the opportunity to succeed.
If you’re interesting in reading the full book, you can buy it here. It’s a very conversational, accessible read and highly recommended to any potential #GIRLBOSS out there. Sophia Amoruso tells it like it is.
Have you read the book? What did you think of the advice? You know where the comments section is.
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