Separating Fact & Fiction In Girlboss

Karen Ballard/Netflix
You know how the Nasty Gal origin story goes. An anarchist starts a vintage clothing store on eBay, finds herself at the helm of massive empire, and then, the much-hyped empire goes bankrupt. With Girlboss, the Netflix show based on Sophia Amoruso’s rag-to-riches story, we get one more drop in the Nasty Gal Mythology bucket.
But not so fast. At the start of each episode flashes the intriguing disclaimer, “What follows is a loose retelling of true events.” But how are we to interpret the word "loose"? By that we mean, how much of what happened to the show's protagonist, Sophia Marlowe (Britt Roberts0n), actually happened to Sophia Amoruso?
Luckily, we have Amoruso’s own account in her memoir, #Girlboss, for fact-checking. Which of Sophia Marlowe's story lines are spun from thin air, to satisfy the gods of plot, rising action, and climax? Which details of Marlowe's life are elaborated from nuggets of truth from Amoruso's? And which are just...real?
For starters, pretty much everything about the stealing is 100% true. Here we break down what happens after that.
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Karen Ballard/Netflix
In the show...Sophia steals throughout her time in San Francisco.

In real life....Sophia stopped stealing cold-turkey when she was 20, and living in Portland.

In her late teens, Sophia Amoruso “wanted to live outside the capitalist structure,” so she moved to an anarchist commune in Olympia, Washington. During that phase, Amoruso made rent through some elaborate shoplifting schemes. For example, Amoruso would check Amazon to see that day’s best-sellers, meander to the local Borders, grab a stack of books, and sell them at a discount on Amazon.

After years spent cheating the system, Amoruso got caught while living in Portland, Oregon. She confessed her crime to the store’s customer service department, and paid off what she owed them. That was the last time she stole. Following that incident, she moved to San Francisco.

But FYI: Sophia Marlowe's dramatic rug-stealing scene is not fictionalized, even if the dinner with her father is. Amoruso confesses to a litany of items she stole during her time in the Pacific Northwest, from wine to books to, yes, body-sized rugs.
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Karen Ballard/Netflix
In the show...Sophia moved around throughout her childhood.

In real life...Sophia attended 10 schools over the course of her 12-year education.

When Sophia's asleep after her hernia surgery, her father, Jay (Dean Norris), apologizes for her childhood spent moving around.

This is a fact pulled straight from her biography. The real Sophia grew up in the suburbs of California, but had to move frequently due to her family’s changing financial situation. She writes that she always felt like an outsider.
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Karen Ballard/Netflix
In the show...Sophia works in a shoe store.

In real life...Sophia worked in two shoe stores, and then some.

At the start of Girlboss, Sophia works for a boutique shoe store. From stealing her boss’ lunch to piling on the ‘tude, fictional Sophia is probably the worst employee of all time.

In real life, Amoruso went through a phase of “job promiscuity,” as she calls it, starting at age 15. Until she started Nasty Gal, Amoruso worked at a Subway, a Borders, two orthopedic shoe stores, a hydroponic plant store, a dry-cleaners, and a restaurant for one day.
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Karen Ballard/Netflix
In the show...Sophia takes a security guard job with health insurance so she can treat her hernia.

In real life...the exact same thing happened.

In the show, Sophia finds a painful hernia in her groin, and can't afford the surgery without health insurance. That's how she ends up as a security monitor at the San Francisco Academy of Art.

Amoruso’s hernia and job as a security guard totally happened in real life. In fact, she thanks her hernia in the opening sentence of memoir: "If I’m being totally honest here — and that’s what I’m being here, totally honest — Nasty Gal started because I had a hernia.” While terribly bored at the security guard desk, Amoruso used the computer to start Nasty Gal vintage.
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Karen Ballard/Netflix
In the show...Sophia’s mom abandons her family.

In real life…her mom was always by Sophia's side.

In Girlboss, Sophia visits her wild, alcoholic mother after years of estrangement.

While her mother's abandonment is an essential part of Sophia Marlowe's character, this couldn't be farther from the truth in real Sophia's life. When Amoruso was a girl, her mom considered thrift stores "smelly" and waited outside while Sophia scoured the aisles. Later on, Amoruso's mom helped get Nasty Gal off the ground. When Amoruso was still deep in the trenches of Nasty Gal's early stages, her mom would help form a "primitive assembly line." Sophia would call out measurements, and her mom would pin those measurements onto the corresponding garments.
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In the show...Sophia steals the book Starting an eBay Business for Dummies when starting Nasty Gal.

In real life...Sophia used that very book to get her business off the ground.

While that thick, yellow book might come off as nerdy, Amoruso actually used it to help guide her business. Remember: When in doubt, head to the library. It might make you a millionaire.
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In the show...Sophia gets the name “Nasty Gal Vintage” after attending a concert.

In real life...Sophia is also inspired by the song "Nasty Gal" when naming the business.

In both the book and the show, Sophia wants to set her store apart from the denizens of eBay vintage shops with cheesy names like “Lady in the Tall Grass Vintage.” In the show, her breakthrough moment comes during a concert, when she belts the song “Nasty Gal.”

Nasty Gal’s name derives from an album by the funk singer and fashion icon, Betty Davis, who wrote her own lyrics and songs in the ‘70s — a feat for a woman artist at that time. In her memoir, Amoruso calls Davis the “ultimate #GIRLBOSS,” and said that when she named her store, she was “infusing the entire brand not only with my spirit, but the spirit of this incredible woman.”
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In the show...Sophia attempts to hitchhike in a truck to Coachella.

In real life…Sophia hitchhiked in a truck to Washington.

In #Girlboss, Annie and Sophia meet a friendly truck driver who lets them honk the horn down the beautiful California roadscape.

Things weren’t quite so idyllic for the real-life Amoruso. On her way to Olympia, Washington, Amoruso and her friend, Joanne, hitched a ride on a big rig. Things got creepy when James, the driver, asked for a back rub, and then wanted the girls to sleep with him and his friend in the bunk beds in the back of the truck.

When Amoruso and her friend refused, they were left on the side of a remote mountain road in southern Oregon. Later, they were picked up by another truck driver, who got them safely to Eugene, and then another friendly driver took them to Olympia.
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In the show...Sophia starts Nasty Gal in her San Francisco apartment.

In real life...Sophia moved to the California suburbs and set up shop in a pool house.

An hour away from San Francisco, Amoruso stayed in a pool house with no kitchen for $500 a month. She describes her living space as “a game of household-object Jenga," much like the show's cramped San Francisco apartment.

While the spaces are different, their work schedule is the same. Both fictional and real-life Sophia find themselves tethered to a thankless schedule of styling models, raiding estate sales, friending people using Myspace bots, and developing close relationships with her customers.
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In the show...Sophia gets in some eBay wars.

In real life...eBay is cattier than the high school cafeteria.

In both the show and real life, other vintage eBay sellers were rattled by Sophia’s unorthodox approach to the business, her willingness to alter vintage clothes, and, of course, her rapid success. Sellers were constantly trying to dismantle her business, whether catching her on small business malpractices, like putting her Myspace link on her eBay page, or accusing her of “shill bidding,” a discouraged practice in which an eBay seller creates accounts to force up prices on her own auction. After a fashion blogger, Susie Bubbles, wrote a nice write-up of Nasty Gal Vintage, the article’s comment section was swarmed by angry vintage sellers.

Amoruso was fed up with eBay, but only left after she was booted off for leaving the URL of her new site in the customer feedback area.
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In the show...Sophia’s sidekick is Annie.

In real life...there’s no Annie. There’s Christina.

Forget Shane and Dax. Annie (Ellie Reed) and Sophia are the real love story at the heart of Girlboss.

In the book, Amoruso describes no such friendship. Instead, there’s a long-lasting business partnership with Christa Ferrucci, Nasty Gal’s first employee. Ferrucci's still employed by the company to this day. Of Ferrucci, Amoruso writes, “If business is war, I always think that’s the kind of #Girlboss I want next to me in the trenches.”