Friday, July 22, 2016
#Girlboss Book Review
I honestly can't remember a time when I didn't want to be a girlboss. Who doesn't want to be a badass bitch, kicking ass and taking names while wearing high heels and a swipe of red lipstick? I do want to helm a successful company (just not as large as Nasty Gal), and I certainly want to be my own boss someday, so I felt I had to read this (rather #hyped) book to see if there were any magical insights or shortcuts Amoruso had to share.
The biggest point she tries to get across? That there were no shortcuts, you really do have to stay up to 3am writing product descriptions, printing shipping labels, and answering customer service emails. Part memoir and part business advice book, this quick read can't exactly seem to decide what it wants to be. Also the narrative of Sophia Amoruso's life seems to be that she couldn't decide what she wanted to be herself for a long time, and after dozens of incarnations she seems to have accidentally discovered her calling. She was a rebellious teenager who finished high school at home because she hated school (when will hating school stop being "cool" btw?) and jumped from job to job with no passion and seemingly no drive other than a wish to avoid "the man". What does this tell us? That it is perfectly possible to flail about indistinctly for a long while and yet still turn it around on a dime and become a #girlboss. Any day is a good day to change your habits, change your thinking, and by extension change your life completely.
The book is an easy conversational read, and sure Amoruso does come off as a bit, well, bossy (like she is talking down to the reader) but I took it as she was meaning to be a kick in the pants to those reading rather than a voice from on high. That she has done something rather remarkable is undeniable, but unfortunately there isn't much concrete advice to pass onto the reader. Nasty Gal's success is partially due to pure fortunate timing, girls started shopping online and the stroke of genius to style vintage clothes in an editorial way on ebay was revolutionary at the time. The unique factor of adding a heavy does of "cool" to the run of the mill ebay shop set Nasty Gal apart and ahead of Amoruso's competitors, and combined with the rise of social media, fashion bloggers, and the popularity of street style, allowed Nasty Gal to quickly grow into a hugely successful business.
I don't think she ever says it plainly but the reason Nasty Gal worked is because Amrouso knew her customer, and she knew her really really well. She knew the kind of cool girls wanted to buy into way before anyone else, and did it better than anyone else too for rather a long time. I have very little in common with the Nasty Gal customer myself, but the idea that you need to know how to get people genuinely excited about your products and your brand is a sound one.
I have read reviews of this book that were disappointed it wasn't a "real" business book, I've read reviews disappointed it wasn't a real memoir, and then there were the meanies who even scoffed at the term girlboss itself, but you know what, I liked it. I think it would be best for a gal a younger than myself, I sorta wish I had read it before I went to college, at around 17 when some of the advice would have meant more to me (like the parts on writing a cover letter, or the vague/confused introduction to magical thinking). Not that I didn't get anything out of reading this book, because I still did...
Well what did I get from this book? That each of us has a unique point of view, and with hard work and passion one might just be able to build that alone into a huge multi million dollar success story. It doesn't work for everyone, and Sophia doesn't seem to have nailed down exactly why it worked for her, but reading this book did make me feel like I should at least be trying harder to make it work for for me. There are a gazillion ebay stores and etsy shops, there are thousands and thousands of blogs. Being unique, working harder than the rest, and having something real to offer people is the only way to stand out and have any chance of getting ahead.
So I guess I better get my nose a bit closer to the proverbial grindstone eh? It's something that has been on my mind a lot lately, hence buying this book. I can't keep waiting for my life to sort itself out into the dream version of my future, I have to sculpt it myself, create the life I dream about with my own two hands. Anything, be it a book, a podcast, or a wake up call (hello there 25th birthday...) that gets me excited to work harder and get shit done is valuable in this strange in-between feeling time I find myself floating in.
As for this book's critics: I appreciated the updated introduction from 2016 Sophia Amoruso, who seems a bit more humble and grounded than 2014 Sophia Amoruso. As she says:
"As I wrote in this book the first time it was published: You shouldn't idolize anyone. And I am telling you again, don't idolize me. I don't know shit. And neither do your parents. But if I can pull any of this off, so can you. Take that and run with it."
And I think I will. Motivation can be such a fickle friend, any this book gave me some, so I'd call it a worthwhile read in the end. Time to cross #Girlboss off my to-read list, and get going on my to-do list!