The online retailer of new and vintage clothing saw three-year revenue growth of 10,160 percent, according to the just-released Inc. 500 - or put another way, 2011 revenue of $22.9 million compares with $223,000 in 2008. New companies tend to grow quite fast, of course, but five-figure growth is something else again. Nasty Gal, in fact, is the 11th fastest-growing company on the entire Inc. list. Its founder, 28-year-old Sophia Amoruso, got her start selling one-of-a-kind vintage pieces on eBay (she sourced, styled, photographed, and shipped herself). What's striking about the company is how little notice it's received from the general or business press (no coverage in the LAT or Business Journal, for example). Turns out that Nasty Gal does not do the standard marketing stuff. From a profile in Forbes:
Amoruso has bucked fashion trends not so much with the styles she sells (which can be found elsewhere, often at lower prices) but in the machine she's built to sell them. Nasty Gal buys only limited runs so as not to get stuck with stuff that won't move. It sells 93% of its inventory at full price in an industry that usually marks down a third of all styles. Amoruso refuses to do even the standard gimmicky marketing plays, such as discounts for friend referrals. She hasn't had to. Nasty Gal has the sticky online metrics of a fashion magazine. A quarter of its 250,000 customers visit the site once a day for at least seven minutes. The top 10% visit the site more than 100 times a month. One focus group girl admits she refreshes the site "every 20 minutes." They aren't always buying, of course, and that means Nasty Gal's conversion rate (1%) is lower than a typical retailer's. But because it's in front of its customers so frequently it has a stunningly loyal group. Just over half of Nasty Gal sales come from 20% of its shoppers. This means there's room to grab lots more shoppers--hence the Nasty Gal label debuting in September.
From the website:
Who is a Nasty Gal? We like to think of her as the coolest girl in the room‚ pulling off whatever wildly unique piece that suits the mood. At Nasty Gal, we are our customer. Because of this, our job is an easy one: inspire and be inspired by cool girls the world over. Our buyers search high and low for pieces you won't find anywhere else--be it from the Rose Bowl Flea Market or the racks at showrooms. Our shop is stocked weekly with both handpicked vintage and a highly curated selection of up-and-coming designers, giving you not just what the fashion doctor ordered, but truly unique items that can't be found elsewhere.
Forbes writer Victoria Barret talks to Amoruso: