College Dropout Turns eBay Page Into $100 Million Business

Sophia Amoruso Nasty GalAs a 22-year-old community college dropout, Sophia Amoruso was living with her step-aunt and working a $13-an-hour job checking student IDs. She thought about photography school but blanched at the cost, so instead quit her dead-end job and started scouting out vintage clothes and selling them for profit on eBay.

Today, six years later, Amoruso runs her business from a 7,500-square-foot warehouse in Emeryville, Calif, has a 500,000-square-foot fulfillment center in Shepherdsville, Ky., and sold almost $100 million of her wares last year, at a profit. In a profile of Amoruso for The New York Times, Nicole Pelroth calls her the "Cinderella of tech."

There were some stumbling blocks at first, like the company's name, "Nasty Gal," taken from a singer's album, which conjured ever-so-slight associations with hardcore pornography. It didn't help that the domain name NastyGal.com was actually a porno site.

More: College Dropouts Cost America Billions In Lost Earnings

But through skilled use of Myspace, and then Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (the company has no marketing team, the Times says), Amoruso built an almost obsessive fan base of over half a million, largely hip twenty-somethings. Last year the company's sales grew fourfold, and a quarter of its customers visit the site every day.

Insiders say that Amoruso will likely sell the business for a very oversize chunk of change (she's currently in talks with Urban Outfitters), or go public in a mega IPO. Amoruso, for one, has long said goodbye to her step-aunt's house, and is currently remodeling her dream home. Forbes places her net worth at $250 million.

While it's rare for someone to build such a successful business out of an eBay page, Amoruso certainly isn't the only e-trepreneur to rake in millions. Sarah Davis takes in $4 million a year selling vintage designer handbags on her eBay page Fashionphile, and now through a storefront in Beverly Hills, reported AOL Small Business in 2011. By that point, Mark and Robin LeVine had also sold almost 3,000 square miles of bubble wrap through their eBay store, Bubblefast, with an annual revenue of $1 million.

At this point, Amoruso seems simply tickled that her company isn't so well known across the fashion industry. "People say: 'Nasty Gal? What's that?' " she told the Times. "I tell them, 'It's the fastest-growing retailer in the country.' "
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Jenine Smith

I'm so happy for her. I just started selling on EBay back in November. So far, I've only made a little bit of money b/c I'm mainly selling my old clothes and a few CD's. I've looked at some EBay seller pages and some people are actually making small fortunes each month. One person, from all the feedbacks they've received on their page, by my estimate may be earning thousands each month by selling collector's items. So, it can happen. Besides, Ebay itself gets about millions of viewers daily. EBay only charges a small fee for each month that you sell.

March 05 2014 at 9:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Peter James

wow, what a awesome article, i always for the longest time thought i would end up like one of these guys, nope. haha

peterjames23 | http://www.mariposa-communications.com

January 09 2014 at 4:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Erin

Jay, your comments could be applied to Steve Jobs, President Obama, Derek Jeter or Lady Gaga....all of them had the help of many people. Yet, at the end of the day, they made their own way based on their own visions. Please give this young woman the some respect for her hard work.

March 28 2013 at 7:08 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Erin's comment
juststeve35

He is mentally incapable of doing such a thing...

Once one chooses a path that holds NO ONE accountable or responsible, it leaves then completely unable to grant credit either.

Sad, huh?

March 28 2013 at 8:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jay

This wouldn't be possible without the work of many many other people. You know the people who built the roads for her and her goods to commerce on. The extremely under paid people who actually made the garments. The guys who built the store. The people who put up the utilities; gas, electric, clean water, sewer, waste disposal. The soldiers who fight so she can enjoy a peaceful productive society. The prez. for preventing terrorism(unlike bush). The list goes on and on haters(conservatards)!!! ha ha you are going to be such a minority soon!

March 28 2013 at 5:27 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jay's comment
juststeve35

Not only is your ilk emotionally and mentally incapable of accepting responsibility or accountability for ANYTHING, you poor pathetic lost souls refuse to allow ANYONE else credit for anything?

Lastly jaybird?

If it was SO easy, and other folks actually responsible for their success, how come you are making petty, sophomoric comments on AOHell instead of remodeling your dream home with your $250M net worth???

smh

Your ilk doesn't get it, has never gotten and never will.... That's why you are doomed to obscurity.

March 28 2013 at 7:59 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
fjnlsa11

very creative and inspiring entrepreneur. but something is missing here in the story.. It says she started the business out of her house in 2006. Yet she was already able to get a venture capitalist to give her millions of dollars (for a small percentage of the company). This all happened within the same year (2006) that she started a business on her own reselling used clothing on eBay.. Something doesn't add up.

March 28 2013 at 4:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to fjnlsa11's comment
juststeve35

Facebook exploded almost overnight... Why not her?

March 28 2013 at 7:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
thetown1

nastygal ebay seller has one item listed?

March 28 2013 at 1:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to thetown1's comment
Sue

She doesn't need Ebay anymore since she is so large in her business. I just read her story in an issue of Entrepreneur actually. www.nastygal.com

March 28 2013 at 9:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dave

She'll probably donate to all sorts of liberal causes until she gets used to the money, there's a downturn in the economy, and she'll become a conservative.

March 28 2013 at 12:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
wlh1923

Who says you can't make a fortune as a trash picker?

March 28 2013 at 11:56 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Frank

According to Obama, she didn't build that business, HE did!!!!

March 28 2013 at 10:37 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Frank's comment
dreamworld01864

She didn't build the country that created the foundation for her to become successful. Think she'd be a millionaire if she were born in Bangladesh or Peshawar? Patriots remember that and are happy to contribute to the greater good. Conservative trolls embrace greed and selfishness and try to claim that they did it all on their own with no help or lucky circumstances.

March 28 2013 at 12:58 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to dreamworld01864's comment
Frank

eBay and Paypal probably get about 12% of every purchase, so you could say that eBay is doing VERY well also....

March 28 2013 at 10:36 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

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