Girlboss: The Millennial American Dream

Girlboss The Millennial American Dream

I recently started watching Girlboss on Netflix. If you haven’t seen it, it’s the highly fictionalized TV comedy version of Sophia Amoruso’s memoir #GIRLBOSS, detailing the birth and development of her online business, Nasty Gal. I’d heard good things about the series, so I gave it a shot. I wasn’t a huge fan from the outset. The main character was ignorant, naive, self-absorbed, and rebellious almost for the sake of rebellion. Her glaring flaws were kind of the point — she did call her business “Nasty Gal”. My biggest concern, though, was that she was giving ambitious millennial women a bad name. Baby Boomers and Gen X’ers watching the show, my parents included, might actually think we’re all like Sophia. (Rest assured, we definitely are not.)

But somehow I got roped into the hype of watching Sophia’s business take off. In spite of her questionable business practices and personal decisions, I wanted her to succeed. Why did I care so much? We root for the “good guys” because we see ourselves in them. And like every other millennial woman out there, I want my hypothetical, maybe-someday business to succeed too. (Insert girl power playlist here.) 

Unlike my parents’ generation, I’ve entered adulthood during the rise of the “Side Hustle Economy”. According to a 2016 CareerBuilder survey, 39 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds currently have a side job of some sort. This rises to 44% for the 25-34 demographic. That puts me right in the middle of this millennial segment. While some of us are taking on extra jobs to supplement traditional income, many others are pursuing personal interests and exploring entrepreneurship. Start-ups, Etsy shops, and direct sales opportunities abound. Heck, take this blog for example!

What’s the ultimate goal? Bentley University reported that 66% of surveyed millennials want to start their own business. A third of millennials have already done so. They’re seeking flexibility and purpose in their careers. The advent of web-based payments and infrastructure has significantly lowered the barrier to entry for many small ventures. The challenge of building a business from the ground up is now often more alluring than scaling the corporate ladder. And research out of USC Marshall revealed that women-owned companies in the USA are growing at 1.5x the rate of other small businesses.

We’re not chasing the corner office; we’re hustling to become a Girlboss.

One of the most challenging parts of this shift for some of us millennials is that, unlike Sophia of Nasty Gal, we are still susceptible to the pressure to achieve traditional success. We obtain degrees and pursue careers in fields that point us toward the old “American Dream”. And as evidenced in the prevalence of the “side hustle”, many of us are trying to achieve both dreams at once. No wonder we’re all so in love with Wonder Woman right now — we’d have to be Wonder Woman to handle it all! (The movie is definitely worth seeing, by the way!)

So where does this leave me? I wouldn’t rule out the opportunity for a side hustle or entrepreneurship in the future. But for now, this blog is my way of flexing my “side hustle muscles” until the time comes!

What are your Girlboss goals?