No two LuLaRoe retailers are the same. Short, tall, big and small, some retailers are stay at home moms, some are doctors, some are physically disabled and some run marathons… for fun (seriously, who does that?). This week, a diverse and generous group came together, and LuLaRoe retailers raised over $4300 for the National Down Syndrome Society.
The Back Story
Last Friday, LuLaRoe announced they severed ties with the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS). Over the past year, LuLaRoe and the NDSS developed an official partnership. During a Facebook Live sale, a retailer named Bobby Budenbender, in an attempt at self-deprecation, used an affectation which has been interpreted as mocking people with special needs. The live sale was recorded, and posted to YouTube. NDSS was alerted to this video as was LuLaRoe. In order to remain faithful to their mission statement, the NDSS requested that LuLaRoe cancel the contract with the Budenbenders, or their official relationship with LuLaRoe would be terminated. In light of LuLaRoe’s Mission statement to “create freedom, serve others and strengthen families…” the President and CEO, Deanne and Mark Stidham did not cancel the Budenbender’s contract, as LuLaRoe is their only source of income, and the Stidhams felt the Budenbenders were truly repentant.
For retailers, this news was a shocking blow. This story was picked up by several news outlets including The Mighty and Business Insider. The choices of one retailer colored the public’s perception of so many others who are deeply sensitive to those with disabilities and special needs. Putting their money where their mouth is, and spearheaded by the fabulous Corinna Gil, retailers in a consultant only wholesale swap group raised over $4300 for NDSS.
Here’s why they did it, in their own words:
“I’m a speech pathologist who has worked with children with disabilities for 13 years, including children with Down syndrome. Serving the special needs population in my community is what I do every day, and LuLaRoe has also given me another avenue to do so. I’m so sad our partnership with NDSS had to come to an end because of one retailer’s poor judgement.” – Candace Hurley
“LuLaRoe as a company made a decision that I did not agree with. Fortunately, that very same company has given me the ability to give & bless others, by way of free clothing or by having fundraisers. While I am disappointed in the way this issue was handled, I chose to let my actions speak louder than words. Instead of speaking negatively & focusing on what they could have done differently, I chose to give. One of the biggest reasons I remain with this company, is seeing the sisterhood behind the scenes. I have witnessed thousands of amazing consultants come together and freely give to whatever cause has a need at the present time. I donated, like thousands of others, simply because I can & I knew it was the right thing to do .” – Caressa Bridgman
“With all that transpired, [I] was really torn on which way to turn with my business. To continue, to not carry on, [but] thankfully I logged in and saw Corinna had started this wonderful fundraiser and it reminded me that we have the power to do good with our business and that there are so many more that are there for good. In the end what you do is your signature, you choose to have your personal one be a good one or not.” – Leah Simmers
“I donated because I am a LLR retailer but more importantly I am blessed to be the sister of an amazing person that just happens to have an extra set of chromosomes. LLR has a culture of support and acceptance, all of which are what being a human should give you the right to get, regardless of sex, color, orientation, faith, or intellectual ability. Those with Down syndrome as well many other conditions deserve the ability to be treated as an individual. Coming from the background of a proud sister of a gold medal Special Olympian swimmer as well as the profession of an occupational therapist, those that are considered to be different by some should be celebrated instead of being felt less than. LuLaRoe was meant to make those feel comfortable with themselves. I donate because LLR gives does provide those opportunities.” – Kaitlin Regan
LuLaRoe CEO Mark Stidham announced on Tuesday, that in light of a second video from Bobby Budenbender which can only be described as an awkward and misguided apology, the Budenbenders are suspended for 30 days from LuLaRoe, at the end of which, their re-entry will be evaluated. Stidham said the suspension was the result of the damage other LuLaRoe retailers have suffered from Budenbender’s actions. Furthermore, LuLaRoe retailers should continue to donate as led to causes important to them, including the National Down Syndrome Society.
And donating they are! To date, LuLaRoe and its retailers have raised over $7million dollars for charitable causes. Hats off to these amazing retailers who made their voices heard with their pocketbooks. And a special thanks to the many more who dedicate their lives to helping those with special needs every day.