Nasty Gal’s Sophia Amoruso Is This Year’s Own It Keynote Speaker

Boston College will be visited on April 9 by a female entrepreneur who began building her career the day she sold a stolen book on eBay. Since then, Sophia Amoruso has discovered more ethical ways of making money and has worked her way up from dumpster-diving and hitchhiking to running her own company. She named her online clothing retailer NastyGal and was CEO until 2015, when she announced that she was leaving the position. Amoruso is coming to BC as this year’s keynote speaker for Boston College’s second annual Women’s Summit: Own It.

Own It is part of a series of events held throughout the semester that bring current female leaders from various areas of society to campus to teach young BC students about leadership. The summit’s board invited Amoruso to be its keynote speaker this year. The event was created last year to inspire the male and female students on campus to gain knowledge and leadership skills. Last year, the summit featured two keynote speeches from high-profile speakers Carrie Rich, CEO and founder of The Global Good Fund, and Kate White, former editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine.

“Our goal is to bring together like-minded students looking for ways to gain knowledge and leadership skills to amplify their personal and professional successes,” Alexis Teixeira, co-chair of the summit board and CSOM ’17, said.

According to Teixeira, the board thinks Amoruso will do well to inspire and empower BC students so that they can better see their potential. They believe that her authenticity and success are a combination that will capture the audience’s attention, and ultimately motivate it.

“What we find most interesting is her background—she wasn’t handed opportunities, she made them,” Teixeira said. “Through hard work, time, and passion, she has been successful.”

As a young adult, Amoruso dropped out of community college and worked at a Bay Area art school checking student IDs in order to get health insurance. At this time, she began experimenting with eBay. She attempted to sell vintage pieces of clothing through the platform and discovered how to make the activity as lucrative as possible. Using her friends as models and tactful lighting techniques, Amoruso posted appealing photographs online and began attracting large quantities of customers.

She was eventually forced off of eBay due to tensions with other sellers, and that was when she began her own Web site. She simply turned to her MySpace followers for customers, and her company took off immediately after. Amoruso released a memoir in 2014 that was titled, #GIRLBOSS. The book made it onto the New York Times bestseller list, and it recounts her story while also providing readers with business advice.

When looking at speakers for the summit, the board considers variety, vocations, and passions. Thus, the 30 female speakers attending the summit will represent a broad spectrum of professions, backgrounds, and experiences. Teixeira described them as women who are breaking barriers and paving the path for future generations.

“By attending the day, they will get to hear from over 30 extraordinary speakers from various industries, experiences, and walks of life,” she said.

The difference between the summit this year and last year is that this year the summit will focus more on vocations. Teixeira explained that there are many students with ideas to do things, but the problem is that they have always believed there was no way for them to possibly turn these ideas into realities. She hopes that the summit will push these students to follow through with their dreams and reach their goals.

The day will consist of Amoruso’s keynote address, panels, main stage conversations, round table discussions, workshops, and performances. It is supported by two different offices on campus: the Office of Student Involvement and the Women’s Center. Both were influential in spreading the word throughout the community about the summit event last year.

“We hope our role is much more than a one-day event—we hope to create a dialogue that extends throughout the year that encourages students to be authentically and unapologetically themselves by owning their successes, owning their opinions, and owning their differences,” Texeira said. “We need more women in leadership in the real world.”

Featured Image by Drew Hoo / Heights Editor