We sat down with the creator of *the* “Nasty Woman” t-shirt to find out more about how she built a business from the ground up, from her home. The process wasn’t entirely glamorous, as there’s a definite “non-sexy” side of working from home, but all in all — she’s created something to be damn proud of. And it’s down-right inspiring, if you ask us.
Amanda Brinkman didn’t set out to start a business at the intersection of pop culture and fashion, but she did — by creating the “Nasty Woman” shirt. Her background made her the perfect woman for the job, meaning her start in the business world was so much more than the classic “right place at the right time” scenario.
Once Trump said those two unforgettable words — “nasty woman” — Brinkman leapt to action and made a shirt that perfectly captured the attitude of women across the nation. The shirt simply read, “Nasty Woman” surrounded by a big red heart. It was a blatant statement of feminism, and it didn’t hurt that it was also super cute.
The t-shirt became wildly popular, and it was clear that Brinkman was at the start of something much, much bigger — if she wanted to be.
“The shirt went super viral,” she said in an interview with The Brief. “After that happened, it was time for a decision. Do I let this fizzle out? Do I shut down? But, I saw it as an opportunity to merge my background into this new opportunity.”
Learning To Not Give A F*ck
The political landscape and her passions had lead her to a crossroads. She could either ride the viral wave until it was over or push forward into unknown territory to turn this sensational moment into something so much more.
And instead of shying away from the attention her design was getting, she leaned into it, and came out on the other side — a newly-minted business woman.
Her exploration into feminism from an academic standpoint had definitely prepared her for this moment.
“My background in academia really looked at the intersection of pop culture and feminism and using pop culture as a way to educate more people about feminism,” she said. “I saw this as a great new platform to move my work that was academic in nature — and you know most academic work is not read by many people — to something that had a larger reach.”
She hit her biggest DGAF moment when “some guy” at a coffee shop told her she could never turn a viral t-shirt into something more than what it was, just a viral t-shirt.
And that’s when she knew she was onto something.
“So many people have told me ‘no’ along the way, but one of the first things that happened after the shirt went viral I was in a coffee shop and some guy was like, ‘Take the money and run. You can never build a business out of this.’ And I think him just saying that to me really pissed me off,” she said. “And I was like ‘No, I’m going to build a business — you watch.”
To the surprise of no one — that’s exactly what she went on to do.
Now, less than a month later, she’s turned what was once just a viral shirt into a collective for female artists and makers, called Shrill Society.
On the website, you can find pretty much every item you’d need to fit your feminist wardrobe and even a new way to enjoy the “Nasty Woman” concept — a card game.
Becoming A Badass Business Woman
Of course, getting from point A to point B wasn’t simple, but Brinkman was able to channel the energy of all of the “nasty women” out there and create a business model that other feminists would appreciate and really get something out of.
“Everybody has a shirt store now … and it’s really hard to stay on the top of that,” she said. “Now you have people just making clothing memes, essentially. I didn’t want to replicate that, I didn’t want to always be producing funny shirts or quotes related to something. I wanted to create something that was a little more complex and beautiful in nature.”
Hence, something as original as a feminist card game. Who doesn’t love that?!
The Non-Sexy Side Of The Job
Brinkman has learned a lot about what it takes to build something from basically nothing more than internet hype, and her word of advice to all of her fellow hustlers is important:
“It’s really just about focusing on what you’re doing and trying to do that really, really well — and not to get overwhelmed and get shiny ball syndrome where you’re chasing the next shiny thing because I think that can lead to a lot of burn out,” she said. “Often times, that’s not a very sexy process. You’re doing the nitty gritty. You’re figuring out weird tech issues, you’re building a social media schedule. I think you have to embrace those administrative and behind the scenes tasks to really build something up.”
Speaking of that non-sexy work lyfe, Brinkman gave a glimpse into the more intimate behind-the-scenes side of things by sharing what her apartment walls would say about her if those walls could talk…
“My walls would probably just be like, ‘all this person does is work and watch reality tv,’” she shared. Because hey — becoming a business owner isn’t always glamorous, but anyone who works as hard as Brinkman can totally relate.
She may have things way more figured out than she did initially, but she’s not stopping now. She’s learning ways that she can improve along the way and working to meet the big goals she has for herself and her business.
Something she admittedly wants to work on about herself is taking time to revel in those little successes.
“Even when the [card] game was published, I didn’t remember that it had been officially published because I was so busy working,” she admitted. “But, I think [stopping to celebrate] is important, so I need to get better at that.”
Nasty Woman Lifestyle IRL
As far as goals for her business, she says she’s working incredibly hard to make them happen.
“I’m building a business I want to see, which is great, but I have so many huge goals I want to reach, so I’m not sitting pretty quite yet. I’m busting ass trying to build it up even further.”
Brinkman may not be where she wants to be ultimately, but we so admire the huge steps she’s taken to create something worthwhile for women.
Really — she owes it all to her “nasty woman” attitude. She describes being a “nasty woman” as “being prepared and confident and ready to take on the world.”
And Brinkman’s the embodiment of that.