LA-based online fashion outlet Nasty Gal has raised $9 million from Index Ventures, after being sought after by almost every VC in the Valley and beyond. Why was the startup so popular you ask? Well not many small businesses made $28 million in revenue in 2011, for one.
From eBay store to a 100 person-strong company, Nasty Gal began humbly in San Francisco as a way for super stylish founder Sophia Amoruso to showcase her eclectic vintage finds and fashion-forward contemporary picks. The unorthodox name comes from the eponymous Betty Davis (not Bette) song and is meant to embody the kind of woman who shops at the store: “unapologetically sexy” and “badass.”
As there are a multitude of meh online options for women’s clothing shopping, success in something like this is all about curation and maintaining cachet. Notable: I would actually wear a lot of the clothes I see on Nasty Gal, and the prices seem pretty modest for “high fashion.” All in all it reminds me of another Index Ventures Investment, ASOS, in terms of scope and target market. Amoruso compares it to cult British retailer Topshop.
Amoruso tells me that the company has been profitable since its early days as an eBay store, and that it brought in the aforementioned $28 million in revenue in 2011, growing 500% year over year since the very beginning. The company’s passionate and social media-savvy user base is remarkable: It boasts 150,000 customers, 200,000 Facebook fans, 30,000 Twitter followers, and 50,000 Instagram followers representing 50 countries, according to a release.
“We’ve been really interested in fashion and fashion has always been strong in Europe [where Index is based]. We had not seen anything like this in terms of groundswell and relationships with customers,” Index’s Danny Rimer told me over the phone. In addition to Nasty Gal and ASOS the firm has also invested in fashion-focused startups Astley Clarke, Editd, etsy, Farfetch, Go Try It On, Privalia, Stylistpick and Net-a-Porter.
An earlier report by Business Insider had pegged Nasty Gal’s valuation to be between $60-80 million, but Amoruso wouldn’t give comment, saying only that the valuation in the current round was “healthy.” Amoruso plans on using the funds for hiring, specifically for a VP of finance.
Nasty Gal is the brainchild of Sophia Amoruso who started the company in 2006 on eBay selling one-of-a-kind vintage clothing. Sophia sourced, styled, shot, and shipped her sartorial pieces to tastemakers worldwide on her own. Amoruso was an early e-tail pioneer in the social media arena, using word-of-mouth and social platforms exclusively to build her brand and communicate with customers and fans. Nasty Gal has grown over 500% each year since its inception and counts over 300,000 customers in...