Sophia Amoruso reflects on success: “I wouldn’t have done any of this"

By Richard Nieva , written on January 31, 2013

From The News Desk

If you’re an entrepreneur, you have probably felt pangs of terror, dreading that your company was going to fail. But having reservations about success? Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso had them.

“I wouldn’t have done any of this if I knew it was going to become so big, I would have been terrified,” Amoroso told Sarah Lacy during a fireside chat at PandoMonthly in Los Angeles.

“You wouldn’t have?” Lacy asked.

Deadpan. Slowly shakes head.

Amoruso’s Nasty Gal is worth over $100 million and setting international trends. The site started as an eBay operation where Amoruso sold vintage clothes. But how fast it has grown is what has taken her aback.

“What do you do when you’re living in a hut for $500 a month and subsisting on Boston Market and Subway? You just keep doing what you’re doing,” she said.

And what she was doing was working from day one. She made money the day she started  on eBay in 2006, offering some of her own clothes and finding other vintage clothes to list. The idea came while she was working a job at a San Francisco art school, checking IDs and passing the time on the Internet. While surfing MySpace, she would get friend requests from clothes dealers, and it all clicked. “I was always someone who always thought I could do better, but I just didn’t know how,” Amoruso said.

By mid-2008, she was off of eBay and onto her own site, which already had a ready-made audience from the following she accrued at MySpace. The rest was a perfect storm: customers who happened to be editors decided to cover the store and word spread.

Then the scaling came -- photography and graphic design, social marketing before it was called social marketing, which came natural because she advertised the way she had always talked to customers on eBay. “I didn’t have the experience or resources or friends to do it any faster than I I’ve done it,” she said. "I think I’ve done it pretty fast."

Then came a bigger team, which he says has taught her how to manage. “Once you start hiring people, there has to be a longer term plan. There are specialists. You hire people to do specific tasks. I had to become more patient, but I still have a long way to go,” said Amoruso.

And the whirlwind continues. “I was just a girl in a room with a keyboard and a MySpace profile,” she said.

To watch the interview in its entirety, click here