What exactly is a bad girl? It’s a girl at her uncensored best, says Cameron Tuttle: “the smart, sexy, confident chick she secretly wants to be.” A bad girl is also the basis of a booming business. Tuttle’s first book was The Bad Girl’s Guide to the Open Road. The Bad Girl’s Guide to the Party Life and The Bad Girl’s Guide to Getting What You Want soon followed, along with an online community, BadGirlSwirl.com. This naughty little brand has grossed more than $8 million in revenue, showing just how good it is to be bad.
Bad Girl #1, Bad Girl Swirl Inc.
San Francisco, California
FROM CAMERON’S ORIGINAL ENTRY:
Tell us what you do (or what your team or organization does) and the specific challenge you faced.
In 1996, Cameron Tuttle rented Thelma and Louise. Again. Then she quit her job, and hit the road with a friend, an open mind, and a wicked sense of humor. Soon she discovered that being a bad girl feels pretty damn good. [Psssst. A Bad Girl is you at your uncensored best-that smart, sexy, confident chick you secretly want to be. A bad girl knows what she wants from life and knows how to get it with style, confidence, and humor.] When Cameron stopped driving, she wrote a book, The Bad Girl’s Guide to the Open Road (Chronicle Books 1999). This irreverent guide to road tripping struck a nerve among nervy women of all ages and jump-started a Bad Girl movement. Bad Girls everywhere responded to the book, and demanded more-more books, humor, empowering ideas for how to be bad (and feel good) in different situations. Yikes! Cameron always wanted to be a serious novelist not a professional Bad Girl. But what do you do if you accidentally start a revolution? Run from it or run with it? What do you think a Bad Girl would do…
What was your moment of truth?
Cameron finally agreed to write a sequel, The Bad Girl’s Guide to Getting What You Want, which hit stores in late 2000. As Bad Girls everywhere snapped up the new book and clamored for more, the Bad books–in an appropriately unconventional twist–begat a Bad brand. Cameron realized her Good Girl/Bad Girl conflict was more than just a personal neurosis–it was a universal issue for all women. Excited, terrified, and surprised by the overwhelming support for the Bad Girl approach, Cameron knew she couldn’t ignore opportunity’s knock. So she put her serious writing aspirations on hold, unearthed her inner entrepreneur and, in 2001, founded Bad Girl Swirl, Inc. to inspire women to laugh, have fun, and unleash their personal power while marketing and promoting the Bad Girl line and lifestyle. Now there’s a third book, The Bad Girls Guide to the Party Life (August 2002), plus a growing range of products (including a journal, photo album, postcards, calendar and address book), agents on both coasts, and a handful of licensing deals, and media pitches in the hopper. And Bad Girl Swirl boasts a buzzing Web site. Badgirlswirl.com provides a community for Bad Girls, a way for Cameron to connect directly with her legion of fans, and a living, breathing “out-of-focus” group that’s a forum for idea generation and product development. (The exact date? 9/15/1999)
What were the results?
With over 1.5 million hits per month, an annual community growth of over 300%, and unsolicited accolades pouring in from Bad Girls from around the globe, Badgirlswirl.com continues to generate the kind of consumer feedback and loyalty that usually cost millions. Moreover, the Bad Girl books and gift products have gone on to sell over 1 million copies, grossing $11.7 million. But money isn’t everything, and this company gets just as much satisfaction from the stories of personal transformation and affirmation that it has inspired as it does from its sales figures.
What’s your parting tip?
Often you do your best (and most important) work when you think you’re on vacation.