Few Gabby Award nominees caught my attention as early and as keenly as Sophia Amoruso, founder, creator and CEO of edgy eCommerce ladies’ fashion web site NastyGal.com and winner of this year’s Gabby Award in the category of “Business and Entrepreneurship.”
Talk about an entrepreneur. She embodies every ounce of the word’s meaning.
I first heard about Sophia from her mother Dena Kouremetis, who was a Facebook friend. Sophia was, at first, resistant to my efforts to interview her for a Greek America Magazine story. After we spoke by phone and then met in person, however, we connected instantly.
The non-college-educated 29-year old Californian who in 2006 worked checking student IDs in the lobby of a downtown San Francisco art school began her career at first as a way to escape having a boss. She established what would soon become a wildly popular eBay store featuring vintage women’s clothing in 2006, branding her business Nasty Gal, after a record album name of musician and fashion model Betty Davis, wife of jazz legend Miles Davis.
Abandoning her eBay store in 2008, Amoruso’s web site launch received huge fanfare from fashion trend followers because of the thousands of social media fans she had collected from both MySpace and Facebook, where she now enjoys an international fan base of more than 700,000 followers.
The bootstrapped online-only business soon received special attention from venture capital firms, giving Amoruso her choice of investors and helping to establish its multi-million dollar worth thanks to sales in the hundreds of millions of dollars, annually.
Today Amoruso employs nearly 400 employees– each of whom pledge a “no assholes policy” that hangs on the walls at her downtown Los Angeles creative offices and her gigantic Nasty Gal distribution center in Kentucky.
In my opinion– this Gabby Award– for Greek America’s Best and Brightest in business and entrepreneurism, definitely went to the right person.
Early in 2012, she was dubbed “one to watch” and featured in Forbes Magazine. She has also been recognized by Fortune Magazine and was featured on the January 2013 cover of Entrepreneur. Her story has been told in major newspapers like the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and most recently in Inc Magazine, where she was included in its “30 Under 30” list – one list she dreamed about being on from her days early when she worked as a one-girl show for nearly two years before hiring her first employee.
The day after the Gabby Awards, Sophia, who admittedly has been challenged with her own Greekness over the years and hasn’t been involved in any aspect of community life, sent me a note. This, to me, made the Gabby Awards worth every bit of time, energy and money we spent. Sophia’s email read, in part:
“You have renewed a pride of being Greek for me that I didn’t know was possible. I look forward to being a part of your mission for a long time to come.”
I too look forward to your involvement, Sophia.
And thank you Dena for being a pushy Greek mother.