TV

Four things to know about Netflix’s new show ‘Girlboss,’ which has roots in Sacramento

Netflix’s “Girlboss” premieres at 12:01 a.m. April 21.
Netflix’s “Girlboss” premieres at 12:01 a.m. April 21. Courtesy of Netflix.

“Girlboss,” the new Netflix series executive produced by Charlize Theron and premiering at 12:01 a.m. April 21, was inspired by the best-selling 2014 book “#GIRLBOSS” by Sophia Amoruso, founder and former CEO of online fashion retailer Nasty Gal.

Amoruso spent part of her youth in Folsom. At 17, she moved to downtown Sacramento, renting a closet space below the stairs in an apartment she shared with “a bunch of dude musicians,” as she writes in her book, which is part memoir, part how-to success guide for other young female misfits.

She later took to a downtown freeway on-ramp with a cardboard sign, and hitched rides to Olympia, Wash., where she lived as a “freegan” (or person who rejects consumerism), dumpster-diving for food and shoplifting goods from corporate stores.

She moved to the Bay Area, where at 22, she opened an eBay store called “Nasty Gal Vintage.” That brand would morph by 2012 into a $100-million-per-year retail business, with Forbes magazine crowning Amoruso “fashion’s new phenom.” But Nasty Gal sales dropped in subsequent years, and the company filed for bankruptcy last year, with Amoruso stepping down as CEO. (British online retailer Boohoo.com reportedly purchased Nasty Gal for $20 million earlier this year.)

The 13 half-hour episodes of “Girlboss” – which carry the disclaimer of being “real loosely” based on real events – stick to the early days of lead character Sophia’s (Britt Robertson) transformation from swaggering hipster/grifter to self-possessed fashion mogul.

Here are four things to know about Amoruso, who turns 33 today:

1. Nasty Gal’s name has its origins in song – but not one by Miss Jackson or Vanity 6. Amoruso took the name from a 1975 song and album by funk singer Betty Davis – second wife of Miles.

2. Amoruso writes in her book that her love for old things started at a West Sacramento motel, run by her grandfather, where her father had helped out in his youth. She recalls her own childhood visit to the motel, where there “was a junk room full of magic – an old Ouija board, ’70s T-shirts with cap sleeves and crazy iron-on graphics. ... It was just the stuff of kids growing up in the ’60s and ’70s , but I found it fascinating.”

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“#GIRLBOSS” by Sophia Amoruso. Courtesy of Penguin Random House

3. After being caught shoplifting (but not charged) in 2003, Amoruso switched from giving herself five-finger discounts to selling the masses hip fashions at affordable prices. “I learned the hard way that taking shortcuts and living for free is not really living free,” she told the BBC in 2014.

The first episode of “Girlboss” depicts her outlaw days with a peppy sequence in which the on-screen Sophia, sporting an expensive haircut and vintage, form-fitting motorcycle jacket, dives into a dumpster in San Francisco (where real homelessness and hunger are around most corners) to snag a bagel. Then she steals a large, rolled-up rug from a store and brazenly carries it through the streets.

This sequence is accompanied by Bikini Kill’s song “Rebel Girl” and also will be accompanied, one hopes, by Bikini Kill frontwoman Kathleen Hanna screaming at her television when she see it.

4. Amoruso, who comes off as more modest and centered than her on-screen alter ego, updated her book (or at least the Kindle edition) with a new introduction in which she acknowledges Nasty Gal’s recent business woes. “Consider me half-baked” she writes. “Just peeling back another layer of the onion every day.”

She urges her younger readers (her personal Instagram has more than 455,000 followers and Nasty Gal’s more than 2 million) not to idolize her, but to maintain hope in their own potential: “If I can pull any of this off, so can you.”

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