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Thursday, January 1, 2015

Inspirations: Girl Boss, The Glitter Plan, and The Woman I Wanted to Be

This isn't a book review. It’s a collection of inspirations and lessons learned from fearless women in the fashion and retail industry.

Girl Boss

Sophia Amoruso, CEO of Nasty Gal, built her business on eBay and then grew it to become a multi-million dollar online retailer, and in 2014 opened her first offline store in Los Angeles.

In deciding to read Girl Boss I was looking to soak in everything I could about online businesses and to understand the process of creating a brand and a work environment in today’s entrepreneurial generation. I knew that Nasty Gal was a mecca for Jeffrey Campbell shoes and had a great assortment of club outfits that were on trend yet still edgy, but I had no idea about the person who built the business.

Sophia Amoruso is fearless, with an irreverence for the status quo, and simultaneously a student of the retail business a dichotomy that enables her to intelligently march to the beat of her own drum. There's a strength to having a razor sharp understanding of what you like and don't like, leading me to the realization that the most courageous thing a person can do in business is make confident decisions consistently. This is how you build credibility and gain the trust of your consumers and employees, indecisiveness breeds confusion and chaos. The way she went about injecting capital into Nasty Gal was also inspiring because it showed how the retail industry has progressed past the day’s of excessive licensing and the selling of controlling interests in the company you’ve built. She has instead accepted small sums by a venture capitalist that understands the Nasty Gal brand as a way to ease capital into the infrastructure of the business rather than taking the capital at the expense of maintaining the integrity of the business.

  • Do what you feel is right, and even its wrong at least it was your decision and you can learn from it
  • Grow at your own pace
  • Know yourself and your brand and don't waver from the foundation of either
  • Delegate tasks as a way to expand, you can't do it alone, and it's more fun when you find talented people who are willing to dedicate themselves to your brand
  • Never stop learning
  • Take the time to get to know your customer

The Glitter Plan

Pam Skaist-Levy and Gela Nash-Taylor founded Juicy Couture by creating an incredibly soft t-shirt in bright sugary colors and then took the fashion industry by storm when they invented a terry cloth tracksuit in a rainbow of colors.

I read this book because like many other girls I was completely consumed by the Juicy Couture era of the late 90’s to the mid 2000’s. It was the epitome of trendy, cool, fun, and sexy all accessible through the purchase of a terry tracksuit, a spritz of perfume, or a charm on a gold link bracelet. The accessories were what hooked me, there were always layers to the necklaces and moving parts in the charms that made the pieces come to life.

The Juicy Couture story is one of extreme highs and lows, filled with an insatiable energy and dedication to fashion. 

The highs. The way the Juicy Couture team was built organically as their initial employees were free to take on more responsibility in the areas they naturally had an expertise. This solidified those employees importance in the growth of the company, many of which became the company’s leaders during its most successful years. Other highs came via Pam and Gela’s relationship to retailers. The way their time working in sales at Fred Segal came full circle when their merchandise became a staple in the iconic Los Angeles store. On the East Coast learning the department store business via Bloomingdales and gaining a mentor in Bloomingdale’s vice chairman at the time. Juicy Couture was fun and the founders projected that energy into every event they had, the way they interacted with their employees, and the way they built relationships through the retail industry. Having a contagious positive energy is key when building a support system. 

The Lows. This quote gave me chills, when the founders asked their former head of Liz Claiborne, during the tough years after they sold the brand if they had did something wrong. His response was, 
“No the only thing you did wrong is you forgot you sold your company, it isn't yours anymore.” 
Not that parent companies and conglomerates are a bad thing when managed with integrity and respect for the brands they acquire but structuring the operations of a company to maximize profit is an essential principle in a corporation that should not be forgotten. The resilience of Pam and Gela is undeniable and that they are still creating fashion and are confident in what they bring to the industry is inspiring.


  • Creativity in business inspires growth and brings energy to products and the company as a whole
  • Empower the people who work for you and they will never to cease to add value, stifling your employees and partners stifles growth
  • Know your industry, what's new, what's down trending, and how your brand is perceived by the business community in your niche
  • Embrace what makes you different, it's the reason you're needed within an industry
  • Think about the long term effects of your decisions considering what people and practices are essential to the success of your business and if those people weren't there how could you continue to thrive, always have a contingency plan
  • You can start again, but you can't repeat, there's time and a season for everything and when that time has passed, move on 

The Woman I Wanted To Be

Diane Von Furstenberg. Her name and her brand are well known around the world, and her mission to empower women is admired by those in and out of the fashion industry. In this book she tells her life story, and what I loved most is she just tells it. She doesn't apologize for the mistakes or cover up any indiscretions or make herself a heroine, and I respect the honesty of just telling it like it is, and the amazing thing is it’s a phenomenal story no embellishment needed.

I knew I admired her before reading the book because her brand is a message to women to embrace being a woman and all the strength, seduction, beauty, and power that comes with it. I believe in the strength of women because of the strong women I was raised by and the strong women that I associate with, so that I get. What I didn't expect was how much I could relate to who she is as a person. I relate to her contrasting personality traits that have defined her life experiences. Traits such as her appreciation for nostalgia yet fiercely living in the present, being introverted while still loving everything about a good party, laughing, and being surrounded by friends, and the unquenchable urge to travel the world while maintaining a home base that serves as a foundation for your family to depend on. In reading this book I realized all of those dueling aspects of a persons personality when embraced is a haven of strength and self-acceptance that eliminates the need for approval.

“ Sometimes in a big crowd, even at parties that I host, I find myself disappearing for a few minutes to be alone. I used to feel sad and out of place in those moments, lonely and disconnected. I don't anymore. I use these moments to reconnect with myself and build my strength.”

In the book, DVF journeys through the tale of her life from childhood, through marriages and relationships to her business success and her present focus on securing her legacy. She started her business and was married at a very young age and by 27 had reached a level of success that can take a lifetime for individuals in the retail business to attain, had two children, and married and divorced her first love. Her story proves you can do it all at the same time and successfully, along the way sacrifices will surely be made, but a full life will be lived with minimal regrets.

In business, DVF like many others in the late 90’s and early 2000’s licensed her name across an array of categories and experienced the disconnect that comes with having different entities sending conflicting messages to the consumer and straying from your vision for the brand. This brought about a lost in direction in her own life, and this experience taught that as important as it is to discover who you are its just as important to define who you are not. Eventually Diane von Furstenberg gained back control of her company and partnered with a retail executive that would help to focus the direction of the brand and build the blueprint for its long-term success.

  • Meet different types of people from all walks of life
  • You're completely in control of what you choose to be afraid of, fear is a decision
  • Live unapologetically if you make the wrong choice own it, learn from it, and move on
  • Have a balance in trusting your instincts and listening to those who are giving you sound advice
  • Cherish your memories, but don't dwell on them for too long
  • Live freely savoring every experience


I read these books over a course of a few months finishing the DVF book on the morning of New Years Eve, Diane Von Furstenberg’s birthday, and although each woman garnered success in a different era in fashion their messages are similar. Work hard, have fun, don’t stray from your vision, and stay true to yourself always as that alone can inspire a generation. Wishing everyone a successful year, in whatever success means in this moment of your journey!

Follow, See, Dream

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