Nasty Gal is the Fastest-Growing Retailer in the Country
11:00 am, March 28th | by Colette McIntyre
Here’s a nice counterweight to all the inane and antiquated articles on women in the workplace that have been coming out as of late: on Tuesday, The New York Times published a profile on the fastest-growing retailer in the United States. The company is called Nasty Gal and it sold nearly $100 million of clothing and accessories in the last year. Oh — and its founder and CEO is a 28-year-old woman.
Sophia Amoruso was just 22 when she founded Nasty Gal and what began as an eBay page that sold vintage women’s clothing quickly blossomed into a Myspace page with 60,000 “friends.” After feverish DIY-marketing and brand alignments with hip publications like Nylon magazine, Nasty Gal outgrew Amoruso’s step-aunt’s cottage and Myspace. In 2007, the retailer moved to a 7,500-square-foot warehouse space in Emeryville and acquired its own domain name.
Since launching NastyGal.com, the company hasn’t quit growing: Nasty Gal has more than half a million followers on Facebook and upwards of 600,000 on Instagram. Nasty Gal’s emphasis on social media and direct interactions with fans have led to its success — 137,500 customers vist the site daily for six minutes; the top 10 percent return more than 100 times a month.
With just 550,000 customers, Nasty Gal managed to make $100 million in revenue last year. “I would expect them to have a few million visitors a month,” said Sucharita Mulpuru, a Forrester analyst. Mulpuru suggested that the company’s conversion rate must be dramatically higher than 3 percent, the industry standard. “It speaks to an engaged audience,” she said. “They’ve figured out the marketing tool. That’s the real story.”
After six years of holding on to 100 percent of her business, Amoruso agreed to give Index Ventures — which had invested in other e-commerce sites like Net-a-Porter, Etsy, and Asos — some equity for $9 million in March 2012. By August, with sales on track to quadruple the previous year’s numbers, Amoruso raised an additional $40 million from Index.
“I don’t think they got it,” Amoruso said of the disconnect between male venture capitalists and fashion startups led by female entrepreneurs. “It’s this bunch of guys sitting around saying, ‘Oh, yeah, let’s start a Web site and put Kim Kardashian’s face on it.’”
Well hopefully they are getting it now; presently, Nasty Gal attracts more than six million visits a month. Fellow e-commerce start-ups like ShoeDazzle and BeachMint are “losing customers and executives.”