LuLaRoe CEO Offends Consultants, Customers in ‘Motivational’ Speech: ‘Don’t Mess With the Pigs’

LuLaRoe has promised to refund angry customers who purchased leggings that “rip like wet toilet paper,” but newly leaked comments from its CEO have just sparked more fury.

During an April 18 webinar for LuLaRoe’s 80,000 consultants (the company operates on a multilevel-marketing strategy), CEO Mark Stidham gave a motivational speech, saying in part, “No, you’re stale. Your customers are stale. Get out and find new customers. If you bring a new customer in, then your inventory isn’t stale. The problem is, you try to sell to the same group of people day after day after day.”

During that same call (portions of which had been posted on YouTube before being removed on April 26), while referencing any negativity that his employees may have experienced, Stidham said, “You go down there and go head-to-head with the negativity. You cannot wrestle with the pig without getting a little mud on ya. Don’t wrestle with the pigs, ignore them.” Then he added, “Oh jeez, I’m going to pay for that comment too.”

Before being taken down from YouTube, the footage had elicited comments from critics who called the CEO “awful” and a “cult leader.”

But a representative from LuLaRoe sent Yahoo Style the following statement: “The comments you are referencing must be taken in context. They were made in a motivational webinar that intentionally included colorful language to energize Independent Fashion Retailers.”

The videos had been posted by a former LuLaRoe consultant who blogs under the name Mommy Gyver and is the administrator of the Facebook group LuLaRoe Defective/Ripped/Torn Leggings and Clothes, a supportive space for almost 27,000 unhappy customers.

In March, a lawsuit was filed by two women who claimed that LuLaRoe leggings ripped easily and the company did little to address the issue. The lawsuit states, “Specifically, customers have complained that the leggings are of such poor quality that holes, tears, and rips appear before wearing, during the first use or shortly thereafter. The leggings have also been described as tearing as easily as ‘wet toilet paper.’”

Previously, LuLaRoe sent Yahoo Style a statement that read, “We categorically reject the fabricated and exaggerated claims of this suit in the strongest terms and believe it is completely without merit. We stand by the quality of our products and are committed to ensuring consumers are fully satisfied. We are confident we will be able to fully refute these allegations.”

Still, the company has since vowed refund anyone who purchased faulty leggings between Jan. 1, 2016, and April 24, 2017, as part of its new Make Good Program, and has launched a “happiness policy” for customers to easily receive refunds.

And then Stidham stirred more controversy during a Tuesday interview with Business Insider. “I don’t feel we have much to apologize for,” he told the publication in reference to the criticism of the company’s quality issue. “I’m empathetic, and I’m sorry that [some customers] had a bad experience. But I don’t feel that the company is in a place where a blanket apology is necessary.”

Mommy Gyver (who asked to remain anonymous) tells Yahoo Style that “working at LuLaRoe was difficult because there’s no transparency between the higher-ups and consultants.” She adds, “People on the [recent] call were outraged by Mark’s comments that they were ‘stale,’ especially because of the implication that if you’re suffering, it means you’re not working hard enough.” She adds that in her personal experiences, company reps advised consultants to go to extreme measures to afford more inventory, such as “putting their kids to work,” applying for a loan, and withdrawing money from their retirement funds.

Another ex-LuLaRoe consultant who asked that her name not be used tells Yahoo Style, “Any type of dissent in this organization is seen as betrayal. We are not allowed to question anything without being scolded or called out.” And Leanna Carter, a LuLaRoe consultant who recently resigned, tells Yahoo Style, “How can he insult us in one breath and then praise us as being people he loves and wants to protect?”

On the bright side, if LuLaRoe customers wish to keep their defective leggings, the garment can always be repurposed as a beauty tool for “hair plopping.” Who knew?

Read more from Yahoo Style + Beauty

Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest for nonstop inspiration delivered fresh to your feed, every day. For Twitter updates, follow @YahooStyle and @YahooBeauty.