LOS ANGELES — The crop of next-generation female business owners gathered outside Chinatown on Friday on the eve of the second Girlboss Rally, the brainchild of Sophia Amoruso.
The Nasty Gal founder and chief executive officer of Girlboss mingled with the group assembled at Majordōmo to toast her growing business — which consists of an editorial site, podcast, conferences and this weekend’s announced testing of a platform for user-generated content. Girlboss is gaining clout among a group of consumers starved for a different form of content from someone who’s seen success and failure.
“We don’t live life in this siloed experience,” Amoruso said in an interview during Friday’s dinner. “We’re really the first women’s, I guess you could call us, media company or publication or platform that emerged, not out of fashion or beauty, but out of a conversation of these things that are increasingly important for women.”
A little bit of humility also seems to be working in her favor, with everyone from Amoruso to the Girlboss team referencing the downfall of Nasty Gal as a prime example of a story on personal growth and pivoting. That’s just the sort of fare that’s being aimed at Girlboss followers who want to be their own bosses and help each other along the way.
“It’s not just about us talking in the theoretical but more in the specific experiences for people like Sophia, for example, who has built a business. She has stumbled. She has maybe had a couple of failures and she’s learned a lot from it,” said Girlboss president and chief revenue officer Alison Wyatt of how the company in part frames the content for its audience.
Saturday’s daylong rally included a marketplace to shop, an area to obtain professional headshots, workshops for business owners and a main-stage room packed with talks from Gwyneth Paltrow, Aimee Song and panelists focused on everything from raising capital to the midterm elections, with plugs for partner companies seamlessly threaded into the day’s talks and activations.
“Everything we do we want to have meaning and real substance,” Amoruso said. “We don’t want to do logo slaps. We want to finance the things that will improve her life with the brands who care.”
It’s Amoruso’s own interview style, akin to chatting with a friend, but also that of the curious student trying to learn business tips, that drew laughs and engagement from attendees at the rally. At one point, during her talk with Paltrow, she asked the actress and Goop founder and ceo her process for making tough decisions and how she reminds herself she’s still a good person at the end of the day.
“Do you worry about hurting people’s feelings?” Paltrow asked in response.
“I have,” Amoruso said before punctuating the comment with a bit of humor. “Uh-oh. Therapy.”
The formula appears to be working. This year’s rally counted 800 attendees, up from the first Los Angeles event with 500, and expanded to a venue about three times the size of the location downtown. The rally went to New York for the first time late last year and will be followed by a second conference there in November. New market expansion is likely in 2019, according to Amoruso.
The ceo on Saturday also revealed a beta test beginning in May of a community hub best described as a feed-based area online for Girlboss followers to generate their own content.
Girlboss, which has so far raised $3.1 million, has an editorial team of five, led by editor in chief and chief operating officer Neha Gandhi.
The site earlier this month underwent a redesign that included an aesthetic update, but is also faster to load with no pop-up ads and a swiping functionality. Gandhi described the move as phase one of where the company’s headed.
“The way we think about what happens in media next is, how do you build something that goes a little bit deeper that really extends community and that changes the conversation,” Gandhi said. “I think what’s really special about Girlboss is that Sophia wrote this book over four years ago now and the community that built around it, people that loved it, they built this on their own. That’s really what we thought about first when we were like, how do we continue to build this business. The site relaunch is the first step.”
The company is in no way looking to break news and go up against traditional news organizations, but its content will dive deeper into topical matters, Gandhi added. As for whether the company would look to expand its follower base, Amoruso said Girlboss is less about nabbing the female Millennial demographic and more about a psychographic.
“We’ve had girls who are 16 fly in from San Francisco and women who are 60 years old attend [the rally],” she said. “It’s about a woman who’s in transition and that woman could have left the workforce to be a parent and is reentering or it’s an entrepreneur or someone who’s just gotten out of college. The advice we provide is relevant across generations.”