Girlboss Media is a startup that’s starting over.
After stumbling in her first business, online retailer Nasty Gal, Sophia Amoruso soft-launched Girlboss Media earlier this year. It’s a modern lifestyle and business-focused company that produces editorial and video content, a podcast and newsletters, hosts events across the country, and also includes a foundation and a book publishing unit, all for an audience of ambitious women.
Girlboss Media represents a hopeful refresh for its founder and her newly hired executives.
Amoruso started Nasty Gal in 2006, but stepped down as CEO in 2015 ahead of the company’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing and amid lawsuits from disgruntled female employees. Her career was even turned into a Netflix series, also called Girlboss, that was cancelled after one season.
Girlboss Media, on the other hand, is a new publisher for women who want to start their own companies but may not have the tools to do so. In August, it announced a $1.2 million round of seed funding and a new crop of executives. Two of them, COO and editor in chief Neha Gandhi and president and CRO Alison Wyatt, joined Girlboss Media from other female-focused outlets (Refinery29 and Goop, respectively). Amoruso will be involved in the day-to-day operations of the new company.
Gandhi and Wyatt aim to provide knowledge, resources and know-how for women around the world.
“Our audience understands it’s not being currently spoken to,” said Gandhi.
That audience is largely comprised of female-identifying people trying to figure out their first management jobs or how to do their jobs in a way that puts them on the right trajectory, or who have started side hustles.
“So many people under 35 think of themselves as an entrepreneur, but no [publishers are] really talking to them,” Wyatt said. “We want to provide meaningful access to incredible women who’ve been there before.”
According to Wyatt, Girlboss Media can provide access to thought leaders and resources for the typically younger audience of people who may not be able to travel frequently to attend panels or summits. Earlier this year, the company held its first Girlboss Rally in Los Angeles, connecting attendees with experts and panelists across industries, encouraging them to develop confidence and equipping them with the resources to continue building their own businesses.
On the editorial side of the company, Wyatt said that while business writing tends to come from the point of view of white men, Girlboss Media aims to “provide a diversified perspective of what success can mean and what your path can look like.”
More in-person experiences are coming soon, and Girlboss Media will continue to partner with companies like Squarespace and Mint to provide insights and resources for its audience.
Leading a publishing company dedicated to helping women succeed is an admirable goal, but in order to succeed in that regard, Girlboss Media has to be different than Nasty Gal. Former employees of that company filed a lawsuit alleging that it fired female employees who became pregnant or did not provide a reasonable amount of time off for new mothers. Employees described the environment as toxic and filed another lawsuit alleging discrimination.
Wyatt and Gandhi are determined to provide a friendly, communicative and understanding environment for their employees.
“You have to show up for who you lead and put your money where your mouth is,” Gandhi said. “You’re responsible to bring in great talent and nurture them while recognizing that they’re working in a transient industry.”
The two execs know that there is a near-constant cycle of pivots and layoffs among media companies and that the employees you start out with are not always the ones you end up with. Girlboss Media’s plan, Wyatt said, is to “respect and articulate our goals and functions so we’re all eager and motivated to build something cool together.”
“It’s incumbent upon us as a company to be an example of not just a female-focused publisher but as a next-generation workplace,” she said.