Twenty-eight years after its humble New York City launch, global creative agency Jed Root Inc. is closing its doors for good. But in doing so, the agency is leaving several of its high-profile clients without their owed pay.
WWD first reported that the agency was shutting down because of financial troubles. Jed Root Inc. had been floundering for quite a few years before being acquired by RPRT in 2015. At the time of the acquisition, RPRT CEO Oliver Fiechter said he was unaware that the agency was more than $6.5 million in the red.
Fiechter told Business of Fashion Wednesday that while the business in 2015 and 2016 was profitable, "the legacies of 2013 and 2014 were too heavy."
He added, "Cleaning up such big legacies while financing a top and bottom line growth was finally too ambitious."
WWD also reports that more than 40 clients have banded together to threaten legal action against Jed Root Inc. and RPRT to demand what is estimated at "hundreds of thousands of dollars" in pay. Sources tell the trade that clients' payments were sent to RPRT, which never returned the earnings to the talent. A lawsuit could force Jed Root to file for bankruptcy.
"It's our intention to reimburse all employees, artists and vendors," Fiechter stated to Business of Fashion. "We still don't have a clear picture about the relation between assets and liabilities, but I am optimistic that we will be able to pay all debts."
In its heyday, Jed Root Inc. was one of the top agencies in the industry, and its roster still reflects star power. It includes hair stylist Ted Gibson (Elizabeth Banks, Debra Messing), who declined to comment on the matter to THR; Yahoo's Joe Zee, who tells THR he has not worked with Jed Root in three years, though his name is listed on its website; stylist Alison Edmond, who is the current fashion director of C Magazine; and stylist Paul Cavaco, co-founder of the fashion PR agency KCD and an Allure magazine vet.
Jed Root founded his eponymous agency in 1989, eight years after moving to New York City, where he dated makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin. The agency had offices in New York, Los Angeles, Tokyo, London and Paris.