There's a fine line that I try to walk, between being an artist, and being a business owner. For me, the fact that I am making something that will be touching another person is super personal- I want each and every design to be something of high quality, ethical, with detailed practices, and a genuine human touch. Something from my brain, that I make with my hands one by one. Lately, I have been seeing a lot of hypocrisy in businesses and artists I admire. The example that bothered me the most lately is Sophia Amaruso, the founder of Nasty Gal and the author of #girlboss. This is a woman I have been such a fangirl of for years. She was the first young, female millionaire without a college degree in the fashion industry that I had really seen. Reading about how things worked for her, and that she was really able to succeed in that way made me feel like maybe I could, too. I idolized her- and in some ways I still really do; she's smart as hell- she just also is super selfish.
This is where I get stuck- because for me, I feel like integrity is everything. Being honest, and giving a fuck at every possible level. For me it's my art, its my identity, its super wrapped up in me personally- because I do everything. Every single scrap of what happens is me. I have no interest in ripping off someone else's designs, or doing only what I know will sell. It makes me personally queezy- and I have no way of separating that from what I should be doing as a business. I've noticed a lot of people just don't care, or they think of it just as purely a business. Handmade as a commodity. For me it breaks my heart- but it's starting to be a thing.
In November of last year, Sophia announced that her business had gone bankrupt. I couldn't stop thinking about it- what had happened? What had lead her to fail? I had a thousand theories- but I mostly just figured she placed some bad orders and wasn't able to pay for them; something simple. I knew she had hired a CEO, so I figured maybe they had made some bad decisions and she couldn't turn it around. Last week, I found out she actually hired the CEO after all of these lawsuits kept piling up- lawsuits from multiple women who were fired right as they were leaving for maternity leave, and a father who was about to leave for paternity leave. In addition to this, she was also sued for stealing designs from 2 female jewelry designers- and all cases were settled out of court with non-disclosure agreements. I bothers me for so many reasons- first and foremost the fact that she has build her brand and reputation around #girlboss, which is positioned as a feminist brand that focuses of equality in the workplace and that you don't have to be "the man" to succeed. I wonder how many of her followers know these things- and I wonder why she doesn't seem to care.
I could hate her, and I could forget everything I've learned from her, but that's some bullshit too. We are women- we are varied, and imperfect, and some of us are selfish or bitchy. We are women; we are human. We don't have to be flawless for our stories to matter. I may not respect Sophia as a person, but I learned from her- and seeing her succeed pushed me in ways no other role model has.