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Nasty Gal founder steps down as CEO

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Vintage clothing line Nasty Gal has recruited Sheree Waterson as the company’s new CEO following founder Sophia Amoruso’s decision to step down, marking the company’s latest move to reignite its success. Waterson has previously worked with Speedo, Levi’s and Lululemon which she left in 2013.

Originally launched as a small eBay store selling old pieces of clothing (such as an $8 Chanel jacket which went for more than $1,000), the San Francisco based store has always been handled by Amoruso, from running, buying and merchandising, through to photography and writing. First named Nasty Gal Vintage, inspired by “the patron saint of badass women” Betty Davis, Amoruso has moved the company from strength to strength while also creating the bestselling advice book #GirlBoss.

Now an ecommerce powerhouse after the move to its first warehouse in 2009, Amoruso has announced that the decision is hers alone as the company now requires a CEO with greater operational expertise.

Sheree Waterson, who was hired by Amoruso as President and Chief Product Officer of Nasty Gal, will be joining the company’s board alongside Amoruso herself and Index Ventures partner Danny Rimer. Stating that she had always hired Waterson with the potential to take over as CEO, Amoruso believes the move is necessary to take Nasty Gal to the next level of retail maturity.

Insisting that she will remain a daily presence at the company headquarters, Amoruso now intends to focus on leading Nasty Gal’s creative and brand marketing teams full-time, as the company continues to sustain its power online and increase its offline presence.

Often referred to by investors and e-commerce entrepreneurs as the most powerful fashion brand created in the last decade, Amoruso’s decision will allow both personalities to focus on their best assets to push Nasty Gal’s eBay ratio even higher. Waterson described herself as a support unit to Amoruso, stating that this change will allow Sophia to “unleash her genius, and be out connecting the brand with our customer”, while Amoruso reflected her own respect for Waterson’s leading ability, by joking “I’m not even a parent.”

This change follows the brand’s most turbulent year to date, which saw a 10% staff lay off and a stall in revenue growth after sales previously overtook $100m. These headwinds are not uncommon for fast-growing ecommerce sites however, with investor discussing that a new focus on fundraising to build upon Nasty Gal’s physical stores has become a necessity.

Despite the company’s powerful advantage on social media with more than one million followers on Facebook and Instagram and a hugely successful blog, physical retail stores are now crucial for the company’s strategy to re-engage with its audience and continue to grow.

Amoruso’s success as the original Girl Boss shows no sign of slowing with the promotion of Waterson merely strengthening the brand’s leadership. Amoruso reinforced the inevitability of the turnaround, commenting “what got you here can’t get you there.”

A flagship store was previously opened on Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles in November, and another is to be revealed in Santa Monica in March.

Published on Tuesday 13 January by Editorial Assistant

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