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What Nasty Gal Can Teach Us About the Importance of Corporate Culture

If there's anyone who understands the term "rags to riches," it's Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso, who built an online apparel empire from the ground up. However, according to some current and former Nasty Gal employees, the company's once-vibrant corporate culture isn't what it used to be, thanks to layoffs and restructuring. We'll examine how a company's culture can quickly go south and how to protect yourself from being blindsided in your career.

If there’s anyone who understands the term “rags to riches,” it’s Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso, who built an online apparel empire from the ground up. However, according to some current and former Nasty Gal employees, the company’s once-vibrant corporate culture isn’t what it used to be, thanks to layoffs and restructuring. We’ll examine how a company’s culture can quickly go south and how to protect yourself from being blindsided in your career.

Sophia Amoruso of Nasty Gal #GirlBoss Steps Down as CEO

(Photo Credit: TechCrunch/Flickr)

In her teens, Sophia Amoruso was rebellious and admits to hitchhiking, committing petty theft, and Dumpster diving. Then, at 22, she began selling vintage clothing on eBay to make ends meet. Little did Amoruso know, her quaint online retail business would grow to become one of the most iconic and celebrated “boho-chic” apparel brands in the world, Nasty Gal.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

Amoruso’s unconventional beginnings and rise-to-the-top success story have contributed to her reputation as a role model for young, ambitious women looking to break through the glass ceiling and pave wildly successful career paths, too. Nasty Gal seemed to become an overnight success, growing from a two-person online retail company to a 100-plus employee empire in less than a year. Not only was the company an absolute success, but it became well-known for its attractive perks that included “Beer & Wine Friday’s, trivia games (with prizes, of course), in-office manicures, & chair massages,” reports The Skinny Confidential.

However, it seems that all good things must come to an end. Nasty Gal’s reputation has taken a turn for the very worst in recent months – a true testament to how a company’s culture plays a huge role in its success and sustainability. TechCrunch reported that Amoruso stepped down as the company’s CEO earlier this year, passing the baton to Sheree Waterson, who has worked for notable brands such as Lululemon and Speedo. Amoruso still acts as executive chairman and oversees Nasty Gal’s creative and brand marketing.

What’s more, Nasty Gal recently completed its third round of layoffs since last year, leaving over 10 percent of its employees jobless due to “strategic re-organization” to better suit the company’s new direction and vision. Many of the employees laid off were some of the company’s first hires and genesis team, including “Employee #1” Christina Ferrucci, who was Nasty Gal’s first hire and buying director. If that’s not enough, a handful of former employees are now suing the company for wrongful termination due to reasons related to pregnancy, leave, or illness.

How can you protect yourself from experiencing similar setbacks in your career? Unfortunately, there’s no way to look into the future and tell whether your now-stellar employer will change, but here are some warning signs and preventative measures to help you dodge a bullet:

1.  The CEO steps down and a complete stranger takes over

2. Employee perks seem to benefit the employer, not the employee

3. Morale is down

4. Everyone is walking on eggshells around the office

5. Your ideas are shot down almost every time

6. Meetings are frequent, pointless, and drawn-out

7. You dread waking up and going to work

8. You find little to no satisfaction or meaning in your work anymore

9. You get little to no feedback

10. Your boss hates his/her job more than you hate yours

In the end, it’s important to select a career you love and a company that seems to care about its employees, and if all that goes awry, then you better have a backup plan.

One of Nasty Gal’s ex-employees puts things into perspective perfectly as she tells Jezebel, “I want the young women who are applying to Nasty Gal thinking it will be their dream job to know the truth behind the company’s external image of glitz and glamour. I saw too many incredibly hard working, ambitious, and eager people lose so much self-confidence, self-worth and motivation, including myself. And I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.”

Don’t be fooled by the “glitz and glamour” of any job, really, because things always look peachy from the outside, and it’s much harder to get out after you’re fully invested in the company. Choose wisely so that you don’t have to see the nasty side of business.

Tell Us What You Think

Have you worked for a company whose culture went south almost overnight? What telltale signs did you notice during this time that you can share with our community on Twitter or in the comments section below? Sharing is caring.

Leah Arnold-Smeets
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