Unlike the plot of Detroit Rock City, this book and its author aren’t waging a war between Rock ‘n’ Roll and Disco. In fact, Sophia Amoruso combines the two styles (along with many others), seamlessly creating a genre all her own.
I guess that’s what has always drawn me to the Nasty Gal brand and why I was crazy about getting her book, #GIRLBOSS into my hands. It’s the one online clothing retailer that I could count on to carry the rock ‘n’ roll, funkadelic, yet still feminine clothing and accessories I want to wear.
From Jeffery Campbell platform boots (and Sophia talks about fighting for that partnership in the book) to velvet cutout MinkPink dresses, the site is always stocked with the best trends before the trends happen. For example, right now there’s this amazing gold animal skull iPhone case that is the perfect combination of King Midas and desert landscape. I would totally buy it if I had an iPhone. In a matter of months I’m 90% sure I’ll be seeing it (or similar imitations) all around the city.
I knew that there was no way the CEO / Creative Director of a company that is just so… cool could have an average career story. Even if Nasty Gal isn’t your go to site, it’s still entertaining and helpful to read about how a girl who couldn’t keep a job (and believed capitalism was the downfall of mankind) started her own company and is now considered one of the most “powerful” women in the United States.
But as Sophia herself points out in the intro of this book, it is not going to tell you how to live your life. Her journey isn’t one that should be replicated or used as a model because it is her own. If you want to be a #GIRLBOSS, you have to do it in your own way.
To bring this point home, she’s included some other career stories as well. Scattered throughout the book, different women share their personal accounts of finding “success” in life and though their career stories vary, they are all #GIRLBOSSes.
Okay, but what is a #GIRLBOSS exactly?
This is what I got out of the book: She’s a woman who is killin’ it at whatever she’s doing. She’s recognizing the expectations people have for her and that she has for herself and going beyond them. This doesn’t mean you have to start your own company; the word “boss” is about an attitude, not a title. Whether you’re making sandwiches or running a Fortune 500, being a #GIRLBOSS means you’re always striving to be the best. You know you can always push yourself further and that’s exactly what you intend to do. She’s also a girl with a bit of an edge—not afraid to push boundaries and stand out.
Sophia is definitely a #GIRLBOSS, but like I said, her journey to #GIRLBOSSdom was not one I should or could ever imitate.
In fact, at the beginning of #GIRLBOSS, I was a little peeved. A large part of Sophia’s journey was realizing how to accept the fact that she hated school (and school pretty much hated her) and that that was okay.
This point was emphasized so much that I felt like the book was telling me how awesome I could be if I hated going to school, too. The problem is, I have always been good at school (apart from a brief stint in seventh grade) and hearing that message had me screaming, “What about those of us who loved school but still want to be #GIRLBOSSes?! Can’t we still be badass, funky individuals even if we happened to fit in well with the school system?”
A few more chapters in and I began to realize that the message of the book was not that you are cool if you hated school. It’s that you’re capable of being a #GIRLBOSS and living an awesome life no matter where you fit or don’t fit in.
And trust me, Sophia tried the whole “fitting in” thing (Freeganism? Anarchist?). But, in the end, she realized that she had to create her own mix of style and attitude to finally find success.
I think that’s one of the best parts of this book; it matures with her (though I’m happy to say she’s still immature enough to appreciate fart jokes). We get to see her go from angsty teen who wants to reject everything and anything “normal” to the woman she is today who can understand and appreciate both heavy metal and board meetings.
I also appreciate Sophia’s take on jobs. As mentioned in my interview with Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs, we tend to think of underemployment as failure, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Sophia, the ultimate #GIRLBOSS, talks about her appreciation for her time spent working at Subway (you’ve really got to read about her tuna / bread-making obsessions) and how even though it wasn’t what she was meant to do, it was a learning experience. You can be a #GIRLBOSS in whatever you’re doing because it’s about having the right attitude; the desire to make the most out of any situation.
This book is filled with anecdotes that prove that you don’t have to know exactly where you’re going in order to get there. You just have to make sure you’re paying attention so that when you do find that thing that makes you tick, you recognize it, and work your butt off to keep it.