LuLaRoe and National Down Syndrome Society End Partnership After Consultant Mocks People With Intellectual Disabilities
On Friday, the National Down Syndrome Society announced the termination of its partnership with clothing retailer LuLaRoe. The decision follows LuLaRoe’s refusal to cut ties with Robert Budenbender, an independent representative who mocked people with intellectual disabilities during a live sales video.
LuLaRoe’s founders, Mark and DeAnne Stidham, have a granddaughter with Down syndrome, Scarlett. The Stidham’s created the “Scarlett dress” in honor of their granddaughter, which led the company to partner with NDSS. For every Scarlett dress sale, LuLaRoe pledged to donate $1 to NDSS.
In a Facebook Live video on Thursday, which was later reposted to YouTube by a viewer who taped the stream, Budenbender can be seen mocking people with disabilities. “My name is Robert. I’m special. My name is Robert and I’m really special,” Budenbender says.
Budenbender removed the live video and shared an “apology” video — featuring his wife and sister-in-law, who has Down syndrome — later that day. Among the “top comments” on YouTube were remarks from viewers unmoved by Budenbender’s apology, calling his sister-in-law presence exploitative.
After Budenbender’s apology, LuLaRoe’s co-founders shared a public statement on Facebook regarding the NDSS partnership. While the Stidham’s agreed the actions of their retailer were unacceptable, they would not penalize Budenbender for his actions and would be ending the NDSS partnership instead.
This fundamental difference in how we view education and awareness initiatives – joined with our commitment to not fight intolerance with eradication – ultimately contributed to our decision to end this relationship.
Statement by Mark and DeAnne Stidham, co-founders, LuLaRoe: We are deeply saddened and disappointed to announce our…
NDSS also shared a public statement announcing the termination of its partnership with LuLaRoe.
This video is unacceptable and further perpetuates the stigmas we work to fight and end each and every day at NDSS.
While we appreciate the apology from this individual and the previous support from LuLaRoe, we must uphold our mission statement, and end our partnership and any further programming with LuLaRoe immediately.
A Message from The National Down Syndrome Society Chairman of the Board and President and CEO:Within the last 24…
Since Friday, the Down syndrome community has expressed its disappointment in LuLaRoe, with many supporting NDSS’ decision to terminate the partnership.
— Monika Baltazar (@kamonika11) January 27, 2018
#istandwithNDSS Sadly, #LuLaRoe decided to support a profitable consultant who mocked the #disabled and risk their dealings with NDSS. #NDSS very correctly stood by their mission. This is not the 1st time LuLaRoe has backed #racism and #discrimination over ethics. #politics
— kirsten houseknecht (@fabricdragon) January 27, 2018
This whole thing with the #NDSS just proves that #Lularoe cares more about money than it's actual name. Have some God damn respect because at a respectable workplace if you make fun of someone you would be fired. Instead they just accepted a bull shit apology for profits.
— Stev (@Just_Stev_) January 27, 2018
@lularoe You going to sweep this one under the rug too? How many is this now….three retailers with offenses against people with disabilities? #howlularoefailed https://t.co/CUJepSmmQg #lularoe #lularoelawsuits #lularoesupport #llraccess4all #pyramidscheme pic.twitter.com/3tXyToUO2F
— #HOWLULAROEFAILED (@lularoefail) January 27, 2018
@LuLaRoe backs consultants who discriminate. First #AmberJones wouldn’t help her deaf Customer shop and now #TayaBudenbender and #RobertBudenbender mocking special needs individuals. #lularoe is trash! Terminate these consultants!
— Amber Hernandez (@AmberSheaves) January 27, 2018
The controversy has even led some consultants to terminate their relationship with the company.
— Christy (@LLRChristyP) January 27, 2018
The Mighty reached out to LuLaRoe for comment and has yet to hear back.
Got a tip for our news team? Send it to [email protected].