Back in June of last year, Sophia Amoruso told listeners on the Inc. Uncensored podcast: "I never want to start a massive company again."
Her once massive fashion company, Nasty Gal--which did $100 million in sales at its peak--filed for bankruptcy protection five months later, eventually selling to U.K. brand Boohoo for $20 million in a deal finalized on February 28.
However, Amoruso never said she wouldn't start another company again.
On March 4, in a loft in downtown Los Angeles, Amoruso revealed a glimpse of what that next outfit might look like. Amid a crowd of fashionably dressed 20- and 30-something women, the 32-year-old hosted the official coming out party for her new media company, Girlboss, named after the 2014 best-selling book she wrote about her unlikely founding of Nasty Gal.
Five hundred attendees, each of whom paid either $350 for regular admission or $600 for a VIP ticket, came to the day-long Girlboss Rally, a cross between a conference and a motivational summit. Speakers included Classpass founder Payal Kadakia, Nasty Gal CEO Sheree Waterson, comedian and actor Whitney Cummings, and Flywheel Sports CEO Sarah Robb O'Hagan, among others (the day's only male speaker: Instagram co-founder and CEO Kevin Systrom). In between sessions, attendees could have their hair and makeup done and get a professional headshot taken while mingling with like-minded women looking for personal and career inspiration.
The official theme of the day, Amoruso told the 500 attendees, was learning how to define success on your own terms. "Success is not a straight line. If you've been paying attention in the last year, my line has squirreled in every direction and it's in a knot now," she said, alluding to Nasty Gal's troubles. "I'm still figuring it out, and I hope I never figure it out."
One thing that Amoruso has figured out is that her rags-to-riches story, as told in her book (here's the short version), has inspired a loyal following that transcends the fate of Nasty Gal. A number of Rally attendees Inc. spoke to said they find Amoruso inspirational, even though they've never shopped at the e-commerce brand (which also had two retail outlets in L.A., until recently).
Twenty-four-year-old Sam Huntley started following Amoruso on Instagram and listening to her podcast, Girlboss Radio, because of her compelling story. "She was the last person you'd expect to make it big--that had such an appeal," Huntley said. "It doesn't matter that the company went bankrupt. Startups flourish fast and die fast...what matters is that she's moved on in a way that's authentic."
The ambition of Girlboss, the media company, isn't entirely clear yet, though Amoruso has a Netflix show debuting in April based on her book, plans to hold more rallies, and suggested more books could be in the works (in October 2016, she also debuted Nasty Galaxy, a glossy coffee table book).
But there are hints of a possible future direction for the company. In her introduction to Saturday's event, she reminded the all-female audience that as Millennials, they are a sizable and highly scrutinized generation. "Marketers want to know what makes us tick," Amoruso said. "The inside of your brain is the Holy Grail for creepy marketers."
If she can amass a meaningful community of young women who want to engage with the Girlboss media brand through all of its various channels, Amoruso may be in an ideal position to help serve up precisely what makes them tick.