I can’t believe I’m standing here. Is this really my store?” Sophia Amoruso asked the circle of Nasty Gal staffers who were surrounding her two days before her first brick-and-mortar opening today at 8115 Melrose Avenue. “It’s magical.”
After snapping an impromptu group shot with an iPhone, the 30-year-old founder and chief executive officer jumped into one of the four one-way-mirrored dressing rooms with a few staffers to test it out. While only the dimmest outlines of their silhouettes were visible, the view from the inside is that of looking out a clear glass window.
The fact that the mirrored dressing room is one of the 2,500-square-foot store’s central features proves that Amoruso isn’t trying to reinvent the retail wheel with high-tech innovations one might expect from a native digital company that has reached $130 million in annual sales in just six years. In fact, her store looks like just that — a plate glass facade features sassy mannequins wearing sparkly dresses, bra tops, short skirts, funky heels and cropped faux-fur jackets, and inside, there are clean white racks, tables and shelves laden with a mix of Nasty Gal brand items and vintage designer clothes and accessories. The mirrored dressing rooms dominate the center of the white-beamed, square-shaped store, but that’s because Amoruso wanted to offer a high-touch feature for a customer used to high-tech shopping (sales associates will have iPads for mobile POS, of course).
There will be a level of service in the store that doesn’t really exist in other places where you can shop for accessibly-priced fashion. At the very bottom of it, that is what we’re doing, and having the fitting rooms central really speaks to that. It’s not like a long hallway of tiny rooms that’s ‘get ’em in, get ’em out.’ It’s a fun experience that forces service to each room. It’s our job taking care of the customer and whatever that entails, whether it’s getting another size or keeping the store clean. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do in this store and I hope that’s how the team works,” she said.
Amoruso is the first to admit she’s got a lot to learn about brick-and-mortar retail. “I’m learning a whole new skill set from this experience; it’s a challenge for sure. Like, there’s no time lapse between the time a customer asks a question and the time you answer it. I’ve always had the luxury of articulating exactly what my response would be via e-mail, but now the response has to be in the moment and still make someone happy and give them what they want.”