Netflix's new series Girlboss tells the story of a rising vintage fashion empire that falls apart and is rebuilt at least once, all at the hands of its young fashionista protagonist, played by Britt Robertson. Her career starts with selling clothes on Ebay at a huge mark-up and then blossoms into her maintaining her own website, as well as creating her image and brand. The trailer for the series is full of stunning fashion and promises to tell a story about a young woman doing it all on her own — hence the title. It may sound familiar, but is Netflix's Girlboss based on a true story?
As the trailer explains, Girlboss is "loosely" based on real events: namely, the life of Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso. It was even adapted from her bestselling memoir of the same name. Amoruso was 22 years old when she started selling vintage clothes on Ebay, following years spent shoplifting, dumpster-diving, and hitchhiking along the West Coast. She settled in San Francisco before beginning her Ebay career; by the time she was at the age of 27, Amoruso had founded a multi-million dollar company. It was a path forged not without controversy, which is part of the story Girlboss may tackle.
Amoruso's company was one she created and funded herself, using the internet to market herself on Myspace and foster a brand based around her identity — something that's definitely common practice now, but was only just starting when Amoruso was doing it. She scoured thrift stores for amazing finds (apparently she once purchased two Chanel jackets for $16 and ended up selling them for over a thousand) and paid her models in burgers.
After being kicked off Ebay for posting links to external websites, she devoted all her energy to her own website, Nasty Gal. The company grew quickly, eventually selling modern clothes and their own brand in addition to their vintage wares. However, the company's rise wasn't without issues. Nasty Gal became regularly accused of copying designs from independent sellers, and also fielded unlawful termination lawsuits from former employees. Amoruso eventually stepped down as CEO, and then the company filed for bankruptcy and was bought by BooHoo.
Girlboss was created by Kay Cannon (of Pitch Perfect fame), with Charlize Theron and Amoruso herself acting as executive producers. The series makes its Netflix debut on April 21. Girlboss' Amoruso is a flawed figure for sure, but her story is definitely a fascinating one.