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Jen Gotch, co-founder & former chief creative officer of L.A. lifestyle brand Ban.do. She is the author of the memoir “The Upside of Being Down: How Mental Health Struggles Led to My Greachạy thử Successes in Work & Life,” released this year.

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With her optimistic messaging, celebrity friends & goofy dances, Jen Gotch emerged as an archetype of the girl-trùm phenomenon and a champion of mental health advocacy.

However, behind the scenes at the lifestyle và apparel brand Ban.vị that she co-founded, current và former employees have exposed Gotch’s alleged racism as well as a discriminatory workplace, leading Gotch khổng lồ resign as the company’s top creative on Tuesday.

In an email to The Times on Wednesday, a brand representative confirmed Gotch’s resignation and said L.A.-based Ban.do was working on finding a chief creative sầu officer khổng lồ replace her. The br& also said it is committed lớn ensuring that senior leadership positions, creative sầu and otherwise, are filled by candidates who are Blachồng, indigenous & people of color.

The author of the recently published memoir, “The Upside of Being Down: How Mental Health Struggles Led to My Greachạy thử Successes in Work and Life,” Gotch saw her new chapter begin on June 4. That day, Gabriella Sanchez, who had worked at Ban.vày as a graphic designer from năm trước to lớn năm 2016, publicized the company’s “overall toxic culture.”

On her Instagram page, Sanchez alleged two racist incidents, including Gotch’s affectation of what Gotch dubbed a “plantation accent.” The other involved Ban.do’s then style director, Kelly Edmonson, whom Sanchez said had made a derogatory comment about a group of Asian women.

“I had way more things I could have said and things that were said to me personally,” Sanchez said by phone on Tuesday. Now pursuing a career as a multidisciplinary artist, she said what spurred her khổng lồ nói qua that information lớn her 16,500 followers was seeing a series of posts and videos from Gotch related lớn the Black Lives Matter protests.

“Before that , I messaged one of my previous coworkers, who still works there, và asked them to lớn hold Jen accountable. I also messaged my other former coworkers who didn’t work there anymore, asking them lớn vày the same,” Sanchez said. “I knew I was shielding Jen & Ban.vị by not saying anything.”


After Sanchez’s revelation, at least 17 current and former workers have sầu gone public with their experiences at Ban.do, chronicling alleged racist behavior there and the lachồng of diversity with the staff, models, influencers và even clothing sizes.

On June 5, Gotch, who’s white, apologized in a post on her now-deactivated Instagram page, saying, “I was called out on social truyền thông by multiple current và former employees for being racist, for creating và helping lớn propagate a racist company culture and for building a brand that espouses inclusivity but doesn’t consistently reflect that. I am guilty và not only am I guilty, I have sầu been so ignorant và so insulated by the ease và comfort of my trắng privilege, that up until just a few days ago, I would have passionately và sincerely denied negatively impacting others.”

Simultaneously, Ban.bởi vì said it is taking steps to create change. For instance, it will commit khổng lồ hiring Blaông xã and brown models and purchasing at least 15% of the third-tiệc ngọt products sold on its e-commerce site from Black-owned businesses.

On June 6, both Ban.do và Gotch announced on their respective Instagram pages that Gotch would step down immediately as chief creative sầu officer & take a leave of absence. Ban.vì said Edmonson hasn’t worked there since July 2019. Gotch và Edmonson didn’t respond to separate emails requesting phản hồi.

Sparked by George Floyd’s death in police custody in Minneapolis, the wave of protesters marching for racial justice has turned inkhổng lồ rapids of change at a variety of companies. In addition khổng lồ Ban.bởi vì, organizations that have parted with founders, top editors, executives & popular personalities over racist behavior or questionable judgment included the Thủ đô New York Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Bon Appétit, Refinery29, Second City, the L.A. Galaxy and TV shows “Law & Order: Organized Crime,” “The Flash” và “Vanderpump Rules.”


In an archival photos, Reformation co-founder Yael Aflalo swings in the company’s downtown Los Angeles office while wearing an outfit from the Reformation line.
On June 7, Reformation founder và Chief Executive Officer Yael Aflalo conceded she has failed in “treating people equally ... especially the Blaông xã community.” On Reformation’s Instagram page, she said the Southern California-based fashion br& will launch an independent investigation into workplace concerns & size a diversity and inclusion board. She also pledged to donate $500,000 personally khổng lồ the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund và the National Blachồng Child Development Institute.

Moreover, the fashion watchdog account Diet Pradomain authority has called out on Instagram retailer Anthropologie, Italian accessories company Ferragamo và Australian swim & resort line Zimmermann for the hypocrisy behind declaring support for the Blaông xã Lives Matter movement while simultaneously allowing allegedly discriminatory practices.

The coronavi khuẩn pandemic is one factor contributing to the accelerated pace of resignations and calls for action, according lớn Jennifer Brown. At her namesake consulting firm, Brown has worked with Microsoft and Walmart và written books on inclusion in the workplace, including her 2019 tome, “How to lớn be an Inclusive sầu Leader: Your Role in Creating Cultures of Belonging Where Everyone Can Thrive” (Berrett-Koehler Publishers).

Brown said the pandemic has uncovered the systemic racism exacerbating the inequity among mỏi COVID-19 victims. Plus, it has cultivated empathy và community between people who are quarantined at trang chủ on their phones, tablets and computers.

“We had slowed down & we had not just passed by it in a news cycle. But we really sat with it,” she said. “We saw it with more open hearts và minds.”


Jen Gotch is the face of Ban.vị, the company she co-founded in 2008. She’s also become a champion of mental health advocacy with a following all her own.

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The five-day turnaround for Gotch’s social-media justice stood out because of the stark difference between her image as the public face of the company she cofounded in 2008 and the reality for Ban.do’s employees. She’s been profiled in a plethora of prominent stories, including a story in March by The Times. Selling pink $trăng tròn water bottles và $88 daisy-print jumpsuits, Ban.do’s website touts: “Gone are the days of cool meaning exclusive sầu & elusive sầu. We think it’s defined by championing others and supporting individuality.”

Hanna Teklu, a former director of marketing & communications at Ban.bởi from November năm nhâm thìn khổng lồ March 2018 & the only Blachồng employee during that period, said she tried to lớn suggest expanding the circle of influencers who played a big role in the business. “Ultimately, the people who were in charge of Model selections và final sign-off on our influencers really pushed inlớn the direction of a homogenous bunch,” Teklu told The Times on Wednesday, describing that bunch as women who “lượt thích Millennial pink, & they’re White & skinny.”

“Jen specifically was more focused on the outward appearance of what Ban.do was like,” Sanchez said. “It was even said to lớn people, ‘You were lucky lớn work here; you should be thankful that you’re lucky lớn work here.’ It was a privilege itself. We should give all we have sầu to lớn help grow this. That was her mentality, that she was already giving us all the opportunities so she didn’t need to lớn make sure our mental health was healthy.”

Brown said that to create an inclusive work environment, a company needs a diverse leadership team from the start. “If you have sầu a preponderance of one identity, there is a danger of group think và there is a danger of a lack of new ideas,” she said.



Jen Gotch is out at Ban.vì chưng, the lifestyle br& she cofounded.
(Steven Simko / For The Times)
As for Gotch & the girl-boss squad, Brown said, “Just because you’re a woman doesn’t mean you’ll run a more inclusive sầu workplace culture. We make this assumption that if you have a certain identity you get a hall pass. There is a ton of work that all of us have to lớn vì.”

Another challenge at Ban.bởi was its growth. Tiffany Moldof, who served as kiến thiết director at Ban.vì from năm trước to 2017, said the number of employees in the L.A. office had doubled khổng lồ 40 during her time there. She worked closely with Gotch và assumed many of Gotch’s creative sầu responsibilities. She recalled it was a challenge to lớn give structure to lớn the startup, which was acquired by L.A.-based entrepreneurs Todd & Kim Ferrier in 2012.

“I think with the way Jen had an open-door policy, she said you can complain to lớn me. But it never went anywhere. There were no fixes,” Moldof said by phone on Tuesday.

Former employees said Lifeguard Press, a Bowling Green, Ky.-based company owned by the Ferriers, played a role in running Ban.bởi. Lifeguard Press, which makes stationery and giftable mementos for brands such as Kate Spade Thủ đô New York & Lilly Pulitzer, addressed Gotch và Ban.vày on its home page page but also distanced itself from them.

Part of the message signed by the Ferriers read: “Recently, an LA based company we invested in, ban.vì chưng, và founder Jen Gotch were called out for racism in the workplace. We realize that even though we are a separate business with some shared resources, our lack of awareness is not an excuse. We want to extover our most heartfelt & sincere apologies lớn anyone who our ignorance and consequently inaction, directly or indirectly harmed.”


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A Ban.bởi vì spokeswoman said Lifeguard Press was not Ban.do’s parent company. The Ferriers added in another statement: “As our employees shared ‘Ban.bởi has the opportunity to take a firm stance against systemic racism và to send a strong message of support & solidarity to BIPOC community.’ We believe sầu that is true và want to use our platsize to help the Blaông xã Lives Matter movement. The only way forward is lớn educate ourselves, lớn listen, create change & amplify the voices that need to lớn be heard. Please hold us accountable.”

The pronouncements didn’t absolve sầu Lifeguard Press from responsibility in the eyes of some former employees, who reported lớn Lifeguard Press executives in Bowling Green. “Everything we did eventually had to be approved by Lifeguard Press,” Sanchez said.

Moldof added: “A part of me feels very upset. The owners use women khổng lồ sell products for women, and they’re allowing this woman to lớn take all of the fall.”

On June 8, a new Instagram account called Bando_Anonymous, run by people who didn’t want to be identified, began posting statements by current and former employees about the behavior of Ban.vì & Gotch “in hope for continued transparency accountability,” according to lớn the trương mục bio.

Also that day, a group of Ban.do’s current employees submitted a walk-out letter of requests và vowed not lớn return until the leadership team committed lớn change. Ban.bởi said the các mục of steps và changes included Gotch’s immediate resignation, the addition of a Blaông xã Lives Matter banner và a comprehensive resource page aligned with the movement on Ban.do’s website, charitable donations lớn organizations supporting the Black Lives Matter movement và a more clearly stated zero tolerance policy on racism added to the employee handbook.

Through Ban.vì, the employees stated: “We did not bởi vì this for Ban.vị. We did not vày this for Lifeguard Press. We did not vì this for Jen Gotch. We believe sầu that Jen Gotch’s resignation is the first step lớn making things right, and that is why we called for her to lớn vì chưng so. We did this lớn stvà in solidarity with our former coworkers and to show that we believe Blaông xã Lives Matter.”

By June 10, Ban.do’s leadership agreed to work toward all of the changes with timelines that the employees helped put in place. This news came as activewear brand Girlfriover Collective sầu announced on social truyền thông media that it’s decided to pull its partnership with Ban.vày. Ban.bởi vì declined khổng lồ bình luận on Girlfriend Collective’s decision.

A question remains: What is Ban.bởi vì without Gotch?

“A whole persomãng cầu came with the company,” Sanchez said. “While our job was to hold up the company, it was also to lớn tư vấn Jen’s persona as well because they were so tied.”

Still, Sanchez thinks Gotch is capable of reconciliation. “I’m not asking for her to lớn be ostracized from society forever,” she said. “I want Jen to lớn vày what she said, I guess, và take time by herself, not chronicling her journey for how many followers.”

The scandal has shaved off a bit of Gotch’s Instagram following. Her number of followers on the pholớn and video platkhung dropped lớn 240,000 on Wednesday from 245,000 in mid-March.

Gotch still represents Ban.do’s heart. Visitors to Ban.do’s trang web will still learn that a 14-karat gold-plated heart necklace, designed in collaboration with local designer Jurate Brown, was inspired by Gotch’s very own heart-shaped keepsake. As one customer named Jana S. commented about her $98 purchase, “Thank you Jen — và her Grandma (who gave her the necklace she wears that inspired this necklace).”

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