Sunday, May 8, 2011
Others Experiences- Issanna
I have posted a lot of other experiences with GlitterSniffer Cosmetics and proprietor Lela Warren. From customers to fans to friends every one has a unique perspective and story. I spoke with Issanna, former Vice President of GlitterSniffer Cosmetics, many months ago about her experience. It is quite a personal one and has only been shared with family and the authorities before today. Like everyones stories it is important in helping shed light on how GS ended up where it is today. Please be advised it is very detailed and contains language which is NSFW.
This is a factual retelling of my experiences; start to finish, that I had with Lela Warren and Glittersniffer Cosmetics.Right before I began speaking to Lela, I think it is important to understand where I was in my life. I was 26 years old and living in north county San Diego with my fiancé. I had recently stopped working for a private school, where I was the Pre-K teacher. Unfortunately, with the economy the school had to close down. Working with kids was one of the happiest times of my life, I can’t put into words the effect teaching these children and helping them grow as people affected me. Unfortunately, I came to the realization that the financial cost I had paid to become an educator was mainly wasted. With so many budget cutbacks in the state of California in the field of education, there were no jobs for me, it did not matter how passionate I was about teaching or how much I loved to do it, if there are no jobs, then there are no jobs. As it was, when I had my classroom I was legally suppose to only have 12 students, however I had 18 and was put into many compromising situations by that school. It was exhausting and after leaving this establishment I felt it was best that I return to school and follow another path. I enrolled in the local college and was having a fun time taking classes that were mentally stimulating as well as making new lifelong friends. It was while I was in school that I was contacted by Loops and Pluto. Loops and Pluto is great t-shirt company that I worked for many times before I became an educator. In fact, I worked for many other companies and designers besides them, as an art director. Basically I would take the company/designer into consideration and plan photo shoots for them. I would theorize the entire concept for the shoot, cast models, hire hair and makeup professionals and guided the looks to be created on the models, I would build sets or scout locations, choose wardrobe and accessories, find the right photographer for the job and was part of the decisions making process in choosing the photos which would be edited for internet and/or print advertisement usage. It is a fun job and also a demanding one. So, when Loops and Pluto contacted me, not only did they want to do a new photo shoot, but they wanted to redo their entire website. This meant a huge photo shoot and I decided it would be great to get my college involved. I had almost the entire modeling cast from my school, and were even written up in the school’s paper. This was by far the biggest photo shoot I had ever done, but the end result was phenomenal. I was proud to put my name on the photos. The photo shoot took a long time and then the images were edited. Since these were photos to re-launch the site, and even though the company was located on the other side of the country, Loops and Pluto gave me permission to hold a wrap/launch party. The venue was to be at a salon who did hair and make-up for part of the shoot. The new photos were to be displayed and it would basically be a fun way to end the shoot. All of the models, owners of establishments where we shot, makeup artists, hair designers, friends, and family were all to be invited. To make the evening extra special I decided to have sponsor bags for the guests as well as a raffle of some of the more exclusive items. I found many companies who wanted to participate in this for the advertising; one of these companies was on a website called Etsy, it was a make-up company called Glittersniffer Cosmetics. I was in awe by her bright colored make-up and how many people were raving about their products. Not only were they gorgeous, but they were a vegan company (I’m a vegetarian and thought this was amazing!) the owner also made claims that her make-up had no nasty chemicals or additives in them. I sent an email describing the event and invited her to be a sponsor. The owner, Lela Warren, responded yes. A week before the event took place my postmen thought I was pretty popular with all the packages arriving to my house. It was all of the donated items for the gift bags and raffle; however Glittersniffer’s was nowhere to be found. I got a hold of her and she said one of her employees forgot to send it and asked what I needed to be sent. She asked to re-explain the event to her because she had forgotten the details. She overnight mailed me the package when it was ready. (It would later be told to me, by Lela that no one had forgotten to send these items, but rather she had planned to “blow me off.”) During the time of my telling her about the event once more she asked what my position was with Loops and Pluto. When she realized I was an art director she was very intrigued of hiring my services. I was thrilled at this prospect since putting together a photo shoot for a make-up line, and one as bright colored and edgy as this one, was a dream come true for my creative spirit. We decided to speak again after the Loops and Pluto party.
After the party, Lela and I started speaking again often. This was roughly May of 2010. At first it was just about doing a professional photo shoot for her since she lacked any professional photos. We talked about her sales and she reported to me her income from the previous year. A slow month she would bring in around $5,000, but on a busy month like December she claimed she brought in $32,000. I was astounded at these totals. All she had was a page on the website Etsy to sell her products. She did no real advertising and had no quality imagery. All of her sales came in by word of mouth. People loved her product and told their friends so Lela quit her day job and made Glittersniffer Cosmetics her full time career. She worked from home and said she was a stay at home mom. I was inspired by her being able to juggle a full time business and a child who was around the age of 3 or 4. I told her if she was seriously making that type of money every month, then she should really think about if she would want to take her company to the next level by having a real website, professional packaging, a logo, and doing some legitimate advertising. With no hesitations Lela said this was what she wanted to do and asked if I could help her achieve these things. I replied by telling her I had knowledge of how to make a press kit and could help her with advertising. I said I would love more than anything to do her photo shoots for her and help her in all areas I knew how. I expected this to add to my photo portfolio and be something I would do part time. I was still in school and I also had two part time jobs, one at a tattoo shop and the other at Hot Topic.
As we started working together, Lela became more demanded. At first, of course, she was very nice. When it came time for the photo shoot she paid in full, before I even asked her and I was caught off guard. Usually a company pays half up front and the second half after. I thought it showed determination to move her company forward. It then made me excited to focus time on her company and the fun things we were planning. I told her she needed to seriously look at her competition. I told Lela if she wanted to be in the same league as a bigger brand of cosmetics, then she needed to make things as professional as possible. Lela started asking me if I could make lists of all the things she needed to do. So I did, I told her she needed to figure out the business side of things such as trade marking her name, getting a business license, writing a business plan and a marketing plan, etc. I told her she needed a graphic designer, to buy a domain name for a website, find a boxing company, the list went on and on. I told her it was not something that would happen overnight, it would take months, but I made a monthly time line for her of the things she could check off every month. This way she would not become overwhelmed and could do things at a steady pace without forgetting any key elements. During this time I thought I was getting to know Lela and I was happy we were quickly becoming friends. I sympathized with her when she told me she had dropped out of high school, that her husband was almost twice her age and her child had a disability. I tried to give her advice of things she could do with him at home and links to websites that I knew of from when I was teaching that might be able to help her, help him. I wanted nothing more than to help her make her company as successful as possible and make sure she was able to balance her personal life with her business. She started calling me… a lot. A lot meaning more than 10 times a day and in-between that she would write to me online or text my phone. Always if I didn’t answer her right away, maybe I wasn’t at my computer or in a movie so I didn’t have my phone on, she would send messages asking why I “hated” her and why I was “ignoring” her. I could not understand where these messages were coming from, but it honestly was only the beginning.
Many of the things on the list “to-do,” for the company were too much for Lela to handle. I was beginning to see her manic anxiety episodes. She would say emails were too much, or she couldn’t handle trying to find a company to make her packaging. She asked me if I could help her. She said she wished I wasn’t working anywhere else so that I could devote my time completely to her. Yet, at the time she wasn’t paying me. She only paid me for the photo shoot, in full, but not for anything else. She was demanding more and more of my time and I wasn’t benefiting from it in anyway. I eventually had to tell her that I needed my role in the company reevaluated and I needed to be making money for the time I was giving to her. After some negotiations my title became Vice President and she was to pay me $500 a week. However, because she was paying for all of the upgrades to the company herself, without a business loan, she asked to pay me installments of $150 for every week I worked. The remaining $350 would be owed to me once the company launched its new website. The agreement was that once we launched that website, which was set out to be in September, she would start to pay me the $500 a week salary and she was also going to take the total of all the weeks she owed me that $350 and divide that lump sum up to pay me over the span of a few months. It sounds so stupid to even say now. I didn’t want her to be overwhelmed, of course I needed to get paid, but I was willing to work out whatever we could to make things happen because she was now my friend and I was so full heartedly invested in the company. Should I have taken this offer? Obviously, not. At the time I was happy to be a part of something so amazing and didn’t make a smart decision. After agreeing to her offer I took the rest of the semester off of school and I quit my other jobs, I worked from the moment I woke up in the morning until the moment I went to sleep, usually sitting at the computer, working on the re-launch of Glittersniffer Cosmetics.
So what were all of these things I did for the company? Well first off I did the first photo shoot. I worked with a makeup artist and photographer who I genuinely admired. The shoot was an 18 hour day, we had 6 models, including myself, 5 different sets, it was a big day. Lela said she loved the photos.
Originally Lela hired a graphic artist, though she had never even looked at his portfolio, to make the website. She didn’t even know how much he charged and when she found out it was out of her price range. So she sent me on the errand of founding someone else to work with on the graphic design and the website. It’s important to point out a pattern in Lela’s behavior here. She would see something that needed to get done and without thinking it through she would jump on board, but then she would realize she didn’t research her options and perhaps she made the wrong choice. She then didn’t know how to backtrack, would get overwhelmed, take a Xanex and tell me to deal with it for her. This would be an almost everyday occurrence for me to deal with now. There seemed to always be a problem and if there wasn’t one, I found that Lela would start inventing them. For example, when we spoke about marketing strategies I asked her who her market was. I asked her if she wanted to broaden her market. These are normal discussions when you are trying to write up a marketing plan. When I asked her if she’d want to change the name from Glittersniffer Cosmetics to something more all-ages friendly, I asked it to see if it was something she wanted to do. These are types of questions one asks to evaluate a company and map out it’s best path. It was not said in a way like “O my goodness, I hate the name, it needs to be changed.” However, that is how it was interrupted. When we got off the phone all had seemed fine, we brought up many ideas and questioned things for where the company would go, I had my gears turning about what to research first. I was on facebook at the time and Lela posted how upset and distraught she was. I asked her what was upsetting her, thinking it was something at home, yet she told me it was me. She told me I offended her and deeply upset her by asking her if a company name change was something she wanted to do. It took me a good 30 minutes to console her and convince her I was on her side and was just asking questions so I could do a good job on the things I needed to do, which included understanding what direction Lela saw the company going in.
So anyway, I hired a new graphic artist. I came up with the logo- a giant pink bow, inspired by My Little Pony, but changed to be a little edgier. (Lela wanted brass knuckles for the logo, but later said she loved the idea of using my bow.) I had to draw the bow to get it exactly correct and the graphic artist recreated it online. There were many times during this working relationship that there would be a concept I would have the graphic artist draw and knew it wasn’t dead on, but it’s a process. It’s another person who doesn’t see the vision you have in your head, you have to work together. When I would show Lela the images that were being created, she would stress out about them asking if she needed to fire the graphic artist. I had to explain many times that we just had to say what we liked or didn’t like, it wasn’t a final image, and that I knew this person could do the job well. I was forever having to make Lela “feel better.” There was never a day where there wasn’t something wrong and the list of tasks to do were already so much besides dealing with her emotional ups and downs.**I had the business cards made, Lela approved them. I wrote the text for the back of the card and said what should be on the front, it was all from me, Lela did not partake with these types of things, though I asked her to.
**I created the catch phrase “bite-size treats for your inner color fiend.”
**I found the packaging company to make our boxes. I came up with the concept for the box design (a miniature oven,) I had the boxing company create the box I thought of in my mind where it would open by pulling down the front- just like pulling down the door to an oven… I know, cute right?)
***I made the layout of the website- I cannot make graphics on the computer, but rather I said how many pages it would have, how things would be presented, I drew sketches of it, chose the colors, I wrote every single thing that’s on the website, except for all of the write ups for the eye shadows sold on the website. Half way through I told Lela I did not have as much time to sit down with all of the colors. I conveyed that I did not feel I could adequately write detailed descriptions about all of them, so she finished the rest of them
**I renamed almost every color offered (there were over 100 of them)
**I did 80% of the color “write ups” for the website. These were hard since I didn’t have the full line of cosmetics yet and told Lela I really needed her help with that.
**I created the membership program. I wrote what was on the cards and designed there layout, the welcome letter, the monthly newsletter, I made all of documents on my laptop to keep track of the membership programs.
**I created the Professional make-up artists program aka PATM. I wrote was on the cards and designed there layout, the welcome letter, the monthly newsletter, I made all of documents on my laptop to keep track of the membership programs.
(note we didn’t have an actual computer program for these memberships, I had to copy and paste every name and email from our website and punch in everything manually. I had no printer, therefore I could not print labels so I had to hand write every membership card, every envelope, lick every envelope, and there were hundreds of memberships.)
**I had the original idea to do clay toppers, found the original girl who created them and had them made. I also had the compact mirrors made. (the original creator of these stopped making them after the “Rocker Chic” collection
**I made the Rocker Chic cards and typed out what they would say.
**I found bloggers to blog and youtube friendly makeup artists to do tutorial videos
***I made a marketing plan for the company and had every single photo shoot we would do for the next year thought of already as well as events the company would participate in.
**I spoke with a company overseas to make one of a kind, super cute GS makeup cases. I had an artist design for it as well. Lela was too overwhelmed with wiring the company the money so they were never made (You can’t pay a company overseas who does wholesale with paypal… however that meant a lot of time wasted on a project she said she wanted.)
**I marketed Glittersniffer, and I had it used in other photo shoots and in multiple runway shows.
**I had reviews written by prestigious vegan bloggers
**I chose the mini stickers to be designed
**I worked closely with the printers who made all of our cards and promotional items. This meant getting everything prepared in the right formats, getting the prototype back, approving drafts for the printers, etc.
**I got Press Kits ready to ship out
Many of those projects took a lot of time, not even including the time needed to plan a photo shoot. Photos for a makeup company are important, I had the makeup artist even meet up with me and one of the models before the shoot just to practice the looks that would be used. There is a lot of preparation that goes into big projects like these to make them run smoothly.So what did Lela do? Well she was suppose to make and ship her products. She was also suppose to get her business license, sellers permit, and trade trademark completed. She said she was working on it. Then the business cards came in. She said she didn’t like them all along, but didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. I told her she needed to just tell us what to do and we would get it done. She replied that she saw a psychic who told her I was out to get her and she needed to stick up for herself. At this point I was beginning to think maybe Lela wasn’t in the most normal state of mind. I would bring up things logically and she would retaliate with paranoia. I told her it would be great to go to a business conference or take classes on business together, she said she would never go, she didn’t need to. She said people would just steal her ideas.All this time I worked Lela kept putting the pressure on me by calling more times each day and asking me to take on more responsibilities. I couldn’t leave my computer or cell phone, I was just constantly working. I no longer had any form of social life. I should point out as well that Lela almost never seemed to be making any makeup, instead she was spending the majority of her time sitting at the computer and expected the same online diligence from myself. In the beginning Lela would tell me how great of a job I was doing, but months in nothing seemed to make her happy. The less unhappy she seemed, the more I tried to make things better and work even harder to take the burden off of her. Some of the things that happened was I got a debit card to the company’s Paypal account. This was so I could log in and send invoices, it was also so I could use the card when I needed work supplies like at USPS or at Staples. This also meant that I was able to see all of Glittersniffer’s Paypal transactions. We were pulling in sometimes over $1,000 a day! I also saw what Lela was spending money on. 5 trips to McDonalds in one day, shopping sprees, casino trips… she was pouring money into nic-naks and jewelry, but then telling me that a trademark and a business license just cost too much money to get. I was scarping by to get food on my $150 a week, so it hurt me to see where all of the money was going.
I also got two other accesses1- I got administration privileges on the Glitternisffer facebook fan page. With over 5,000 people on this page, it was how Glittersniffer made most of its money. On top of my other duties I also had to stay on the facebook page and make sure the clients were being respectful of one another, I was asked to post contests, and answer questions.2- I got the password for the company’s business account. I was horrified to sign onto there to find over 8,000 emails just sitting in the inbox, nothing was organized, it was a mess.Some things came to my attention while I had access to these two internet accounts… many clients were posting on the facebook page saying there orders were not shipped, or asking why hadn’t Lela responded to their emails. Lela would say things were shipped to those asking for their packages and she also said that her emails weren’t getting to her, so to please resend emails.
Now… I lived in California and Lela lived in Michigan, so where packages were I had no idea, but since I was in that email account, I can verify that there were no missing emails. They were all there in one giant mess. Remember, as I said before, Lela lacked patience; she didn’t want to take the time to sit and respond to client’s questions and let things pile up to an overwhelming height. I was soon asked to organize the gmail account. I was sad to see how many girls had written with questions or concerns and that their emails and never been answered, dating back over a year. It took me 5 FULL days to tackle that project. In the end everything was in a folder, clearly labeled. Some were in a “RESPOND TO” folder, another was “RESPOND TO ASAP.” I ended up having to answer most of them.I started having to console many upset girls. What were they upset about?
*missing orders, for months
*makeup was purchased once and then the second time the same color was ordered it wasn’t the same color
*make-up caused irritation
Let me address some of these issues.
1 orders were not missing, they were not shipped. Lela never made the time to make a plan that worked for shipping, with no system things were forgotten, I was told this by a woman who helped Lela package her orders, when Lela and her came to California to visit (more on that later.)
2 makeup was not consistent because Lela kept a recipe book with the ingredients, but no measurements. She would “eye ball” her colors. When makeup artists buy makeup they need consistency, everyone wants consistency. When I first brought this up to Lela she told me to tell the person who asked about it, that she had hired a new girl and the girl didn’t know better. I assumed this was the truth. Months later when Lela came to visit me she told me that was her “excuse.” When something went wrong she would say it was a new person, or blame it on her personal assistant. It was this same personal assistant that came to California with her and told me much of this information. The assistant told me about the recipe book, Lela also admitted it. It wasn’t just clients being lied to, it was also me, I was starting to see that I couldn’t trust Lela.
3 makeup caused irritation because Lela put soap dyes in some of her eye colors, this ingredient is a neon color, which is gorgeous, but it is not eye approved, let alone cosmetic approved. In fact this can cause blindness. I did not find this out until much later however and will reach this topic more, shortly.
Now we are in June…I had already been hired to work at a summer camp before I met Lela. I was teaching dramatic arts to girls in New Hampshire. I went there to work because I wanted to be close to my family who lived in that area, for personal family reasons. It was an opportunity for me to visit them and work out there for 3 months. Lela asked me not to go. I told her I would still be able to do all of my work while I was there, however, I would be with kids most of the time during the day so I wouldn’t be able to call and text and be on the computer all day. I had breaks throughout the day and a computer to work on at night, and 2 days off a week, so even if we didn’t talk, I assured her that I would still be doing my job. Both my summer teaching job and Glittersniffer Cosmetics were important to me so I made it my goal to tackle both to the best of my ability, and I did. I will tell you I have never been so exhausted as I was that summer. I never really had a “relaxing” moment. If I wasn’t with the kids, I was working on Glittersniffer. My days off I spent in my dad’s home office printing things, labeling, calling the boxing company, making sure the photos were edited, planning the product photo shoot. This wasn’t good enough for Lela and I received text messages and emails asking “how could I do this to her?” and she felt like I was “abandoning her.” I know she was my friend, and I cared about her feelings, but she was also my boss and the guilt trips she was giving me made me feel utterly uncomfortable. I felt like I was walking on eggshells because the moment she was upset, she let me know she was angry, sad, or lonely, or all 3! Her moods changed every moment, examples of these times would be when I had my nights off, sometimes she would go out on a date night and say she wouldn’t be available all night. I would think to myself that was great I could relax or work on the computer, but then one night she came home early and texted me 5 times wondering where I was and why wasn’t I answering. She would go from happy to needy. She accused me of not “loving her.” I cared about her very much, but again she was my boss and lines kept getting crossed. On a few different occasions she called me crying saying to couldn’t handle the stress of working anymore. I would calm her down and tell her I was pretty much doing everything, all she had to do was make the cosmetics and ship them and once we launched we could both take a deep breath and relax and enjoy working at a steady pace. So these times she would go from sad to overjoyed. There was never a calm spell or a time where things could just be mellow. The last person I became concerned about was myself. I was worried about her, I was worried about the clients who were becoming more and more upset, I was worried about how everything was going to look when it was finished, but I didn’t care at all about me. It took away from my quality of living, I didn’t get to spend much time with my family at all, and I was already feeling homesick for California and my fiancé who I had not seen.At the end of my summer job I went to New York City with my best friend. I was determined to actually take a few days to enjoy to myself before flying home to California. I knew once I got home that the company would launch in just a few weeks and I would still have no social life until September 15th when all the hard work would pay off. I do not think my best friend has yet fully forgiven me due to the lack of attention I was able to give her on our trip. The entire 5 hour bus ride there I worked on putting the costumer membership information onto my computer. She saw first hand the guilt trip calls and texts I was getting all day. I was starting to become emotionally exhausted. The light at the end of the tunnel, the finished project, the no more being poor, was what kept me going with a smile on my face.
I flew home and got right to work. I had 1 week to get as much done as I could before Lela herself would be flying out to California. She would be here 1 week and then the site would launch 1 week after that. This is a rough estimate give or take a day or two.
Now I had a lot on my to-do list. One of the things was to finish the write ups for the website. There was a miscommunication about when they needed to be done by and I was trying to work on many other things. Well the graphic artist told Lela it just wasn’t done at all and because she didn’t have anything from me, the website “might not,” be done on time. Now, I had already told her the layout of the website, it was just the text she needed and it was done I just needed to tweak it and grammar check it and make sure I did not forget anything important. I felt a lot of pressure for things to be perfect. Instead of Lela coming to me and asking me what the story was with these pages, she snapped. She called me on the phone, I remember I was sitting on the couch in our living room, at my laptop typing up more things for the company. She demanded me to tell her why I had “let her down.” I told her I didn’t know what she was talking about. The rest of what she said to me was pretty hard to even make out. She went from talking, to yelling, to screaming in a matter of moments. I could make out a few things, one was I had “fucked up big time,” and I had “fucked up the website.” My fiance was sitting next to me in the living room and could her screaming at me. I started to cry, I had no idea what was going on and I was so burnt out, that being screamed at by my boss was the last thing I could handle. My fiance told me to hang up so I did. At this point I should have walked away from the entire thing, but I didn’t and I will regret that forever. I figured out what was going on from the graphic designer. I tried to contact Lela to discuss things, but she refused to speak to me. She posted my job position online within a matter of seconds. I wrote her an email saying that it was a misunderstanding, I had the write ups and could polish them up and send them to the graphic designer and all she had, had to do was talk to me about it, however I would need to know that I still had a job. Eventually she calmed down and wrote to me in an email that yes, I was still working for her and to just “get it done.” So, I did. I finished everything. When we finally started talking again, she apologized, she said she did not think through what she had said to me and that she didn’t mean any of it. She said “I can’t do any of this without you. I tried to find a replacement for you, but no one could do as good a job as you.” She told me that the graphic designer was gunning for my job, she wanted to do the photo shoots and tried to tell Lela false things about me to get her riled up. Lela said she thought the graphic designer did the whole thing on purpose to get her riled up, but to not approach the graphic designer about what Lela was telling me. (drama much? :/) I do not know how much of that was actually true as I have discovered many things Lela told me were lies. I treaded very carefully after that day. I felt like I was holding my breath at all times so as not to have that happen again. I didn’t trust Lela or the graphic designer anymore and was unsure about my future with the company. I had already invested so much of myself into it and needed time to think things through.
I didn’t have much time however because Lela flew out her with her assistant. They flew in to San Diego and then took a train up to LA. I was there working on a photo shoot of the products, that meant basically an eye ball photo shoot, it was a LOT of work with over 100 colors. Lela was very quiet around me and seemed shy. She was taken aback by all of the work that was going into the photo shoot. All of a sudden Lela’s assistant was upset and told me that Lela wanted to leave, she was tired, but not in the terms of yeah okay maybe let’s leave soon. It was more demanding that we leave immediately. We were still shooting and I was their ride to leave, I couldn’t physically leave until the shoot was done, it was day 4 of shooting, we had to finish. Lela got very angry and stormed off. One of the eye models was a fan of the make-up and another was a good friend of mine. Both individuals were made to feel very uncomfortable by Lela as she made negative comments the entire evening and wouldn’t directly speak to anyone except for her assistant, things were off to a rocky start. What was supposed to have been a super fun week, turned into a nightmare. A few very key things happened this week.1- I discovered Lela had what appeared to be a problem with an herb called Kratom. Lela is very skinny and has body shakes. When I say skinny I mean I can see every bone in her body and she doesn’t eat. She had a plastic bag which she took around with her everywhere which was filled with a beige colored powder and she would eat large amounts all throughout the day with a spoon. She said it was something to help her relax. Later in the week Lela offered me some, she said it was an opiate. She said its name was Kratom. I declined her offer. I also investigated what this was online. It is legal here in the states, but is recommended to be used a few times a month. Lela was taking it many times a day. I could not say how many because it was too many to count, it was a continuous thing being ingested that after awhile I stopped noticing.
2- The photo shoot. There was another photo shoot later in the week that took place. It was in LA with the same team of girls doing makeup and photography. I was modeling in the shoot and the plan was to shoot the set for Halloween and then we were all going to go to a dance club and do marketing there. The photographer and I had worked many times together. When we would shoot we would talk multiple times, weeks in advance, about the concept of the shoot and what we would need to have ready for the day, etc. Shooting with her was always a lot of fun. In the beginning Lela was pleasant. She helped decorate the set for the photo shoot and she got samples ready to hand out at the nightclub. Since I was modeling, I got my make-up applied by the make-up artist. Now this make-up artist is amazing, we have worked together before, she helped me rename many of the colors for GS and I had been given the ok to give her the title of official Glittersniffer Cosmetics head make-up artist. As such I gave her a lot of creative freedom when doing the eye looks. We would discuss them before hand and I always trusted her thoroughly. For this shoot I told her to use the colors the Lela had said would be the Halloween sale items. These colors all had Halloween inspired names. The make-up was finished and we started shooting, it looked amazing and everyone was having a great time. Lela decided to have head shots done of her and her assistant so they were to get their name-up done as well. The next thing I know the assistant comes to me and says Lela is outside crying…???... So I go and find her outside and tell her to come and talk to me. She is quick to get very defensive and upset. She said many harsh and unfounded things to me. This included her accusation that I wasn’t asking her opinion enough, that I wasn’t doing enough of the set up work and she should just be paying the photographer everything and nothing to me, she said she hated the colors that were on my eyes and the make-up in general, she began crying and yelling at me and not much could be understood after that. I was embarrassed. We were at the photographers house, who was also my friend, I have done over a hundred photo shoots, never have I had something like that take place. It was a spectacle of unbalanced emotion. Nothing I could say was going to make her calm down because nothing she was saying was true. It didn’t matter if I pointed out what was false in her statements, she wanted to be upset and so she was upset. I did attempt to right the wrong things said. I reminded her she had said she wanted to help set up so I let her, but afterwards I fixed it so all of the props would be in the proper places for the shots, I explained a lot of work goes into making a shoot happen long before the day of. I told her the colors on my eyes were the ones on sale, she replied she didn’t care, she hated them. I tried to point out that logically if we are advertising certain colors on sale we should have them in the photo, but again it didn’t matter what I said or how much sense it made, she just refused to acknowledge it. I then reminded her about how we had talked about the photo shoot prior to us arriving, she made the statement to me that she hated when people tried to tell her how to make cosmetics so she would let me do the photo shoot and just observe, so that’s all I was doing was my job. Her response was “You aren’t doing your job. You’re fucking up your job. You’re job is to make me happy, and I’m not happy.” She then stormed off. In that moment I felt very foolish for trying so hard and working so tirelessly. My efforts were obviously being wasted and my work unappreciated. I didn’t see how the shoot could carry on, I was ready to throw on my street clothes and head home. The photographer tried to make peace, she told me to just suck it up and model more, but I was not ready to explain to her how complicated this entire situation was. Everything became very awkward. I did try and speak to Lela and she just wanted to yell some more. She said not only did she hate these photos, but she hated the first ones we did from the Rocker Chic shoot. She said they weren’t her style and I asked why she would tell me she loved them if she really didn’t like them. I would never have someone use or pay for images they didn’t like, we would reshoot them, no problem. She didn’t have a response for that.
Eventually Lela came to speak to me. She apologized. She said she was far from home and stressed out and she knew I was working hard and she knew the photos from the first shoot were great and that they went with the brand. I smiled, I nodded, but I was also thinking of how to get out of this unhealthy working relationship. It was not even a week passed that she had screamed at me over the phone that I was a “fuck up,” and posted a hiring inquiry for my position.
I finished the photo shoot and then we went out, the 5 of us girls, to go and market in LA. The goal was to go to the nightclub and we had business cards with bags of make-up samples stapled to them. We were to mingle and get the cards out, talk to girls about the line and generate some buzz. Lela proceeded to get severely intoxicated to the point where she projectile vomited on everyone’s feet and we had to leave early.
The week was almost over and while Lela and her assistant went to the beach and had fun, I stayed in and worked on the membership program or other tasks that needed to be done.Finally Lela met my fiancé. The first thing she did was hug him and tell him how sorry she was for taking up all of my time and how she promised it would financially pay off if we held out just one more week. The four of us decided to go out for the night, it of all the nights, it was probably the worst. Lela got very intoxicated again, and kept saying she needed a guy. She walked up to my fiancé and asked if he would be her guy. Not joking. We were both horrified. One that’s my fiancé, two she’s married. We said we didn’t like the question and maybe she should scope out the dance floor for a guy. She did and was making out with someone the entire night. We decided to leave and coaxed her out of the club. Her assistant had already walked back to their rented condo. On the way back she told my fiancé she was going to “lick my pussy and fuck the shit out of me.” I’ve never felt more uncomfortable in my entire life. And how do you tell your “Boss,” how uncomfortable they have made you? I just wanted to run home and cry.Can I remind you this was one week? And that it was a nightmare? Okay moving on…If you guessed that she apologized the next morning then you are correct. It was not forgotten by me though. It was her last day and the day I found out about the recipe book and not shipping out orders. I was told she didn’t wear gloves, that when orders came in she printed them out and then would lose the invoices. We sat there all day, the three of us, tackling the GS gmail account. There were so many unhappy people. I tried to make things better, would tell them we would reship their order plus one or two complimentary eye shadows. Lela wrote someone an email and offered this person 28 complimentary eye shadows so they’d leave her alone. 28!? She just wanted to say whatever she had to, to make the emails go away. I wrote a list of everyone who was missing an order and what they needed to be sent. At least the ones I personally emailed. I asked Lela the agreements she made the people she was literally emailing with right then and she said she didn’t want to talk about it and she would remember to do it later. There was no convincing her otherwise.Lela flew home and I thought I could just sleep for the day. Nope, she was texting me from the airplane saying that one of the photos was labeled wrong and why had a fucked that up… turns out she named two different colors the same name and it wasn’t my fault, but I had to deal with that for two hours and did not get in the nap I was very much looking forward to.When Lela came to California she paid for her trip. I have heard she claimed otherwise. I invited her her to see the photo shoot and meet me in person. She was invited to stay in my home so that all she had to do was pay for a flight. She kept saying she couldn’t pay me and that she needed to save all of her money for the opening. A week before she came she went to a casino and spent hundreds of dollars and the trip coming out here she did not save money either sine she flew out herself and her assistant, rented a condo and rented a car. These things did not need to be done and that cost a lot of money. I mention this because that week before we opened Lela never even bothered to pay me my installment of my paycheck. She claimed GS wasn’t making enough money, which was a lie.I worked of course that week and Wednesday we opened. We launched the website, it was so exciting, it was like having a baby. Two hours after we launched Lela said she wasn’t going to pay me. In those two hours GS had sold over $700 worth of product, but she said it wasn’t enough. She said she was mad at me for asking to be paid these past few months. She said her assistant worked for nothing to be supportive. I retorted that her assistant had a day job, and this was all I was doing. Lela gave me the option of making 4 percent of her net profit per week as my wage or I didn’t have a job. I asked what that 4% would even be, before or after she blew all the income on things non-business related i.e. her personal spending habits… which were really bad. Not that I would take that deal. I quit. Lela told me to send her an invoice for the money she owed me and we agreed to walk our separate ways. I was angry, I felt used, I just wanted to be paid for everything I did and be done with it.That night I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned and had so much anxiety. The next day I decided it was the right thing to do to go to people, not everyone, but people I had spoken with and helped who were clients of GS. I had hoped in staying on with the company I could have convinced Lela to change her business practices since I had only just learned of them. Obviously that wouldn’t happen now, but people deserved to know that the internet Lela, the one they talked to who seemed really nice, didn’t really care all that much in real life. When she was here she would answer emails and put down the people she wrote them too outloud. The fact was, Lela only cared about herself and I had learned she was hurting people. I was upset with her, but I had worked so hard for this company and if there was any chance of turning it around I had to tell someone. So I wrote out what I knew to be going on and though people were polite, no one really believed me. Lela, not nice? Lela, not care? There were a few who had been treated poorly by her and they listened, but it wasn’t enough to make a difference.And that’s when the worst happened. Yes, even worse than me sending her the invoice for the $6,000 she owes me for working. I’m not kidding, it is $6,000. I worked a long time for her for nothing (If you do the math, because she never paid me in full I made about $2.80 an hour for the work I did.) Well, anyway, I sent this to her and she rejected the invoice. She also hacked into my personal gmail account and copied and deleted every single email I had in it. I was sitting downstairs and went to check my email from my cell phone and there wasn’t a single email in it. I ran upstairs to my computer… I thought maybe it was my phone. But everything was gone. My fiancé tours the world and sends me love letter/emails, they were gone. I had emails from my lawyer about personal sensitive things, they were gone. I was attacked in NYC and in the hospital and there was a police report and photos of me in the hospital, gone. There were personal family emails, gone. Everything was gone. And so I clicked on bottom of the gmail page and it shows the IP addresses logged into your email account and there it was, Michigan logged into my emails. I can’t tell you how devastated I was in that moment. I remember falling to the floor and crying and my fiancé picking me up and holding me. I blacked out pretty much after that. I don’t know how she figured out my password, but she even texted me that I would never get my emails back. And the texting didn’t stop for a long time until I blocked her phone number. She found emails to friends and wrote to them telling them they knew things about our conversations, she emailed my family, she emailed people I worked with and admired telling them lies about me- that I hated them, that I was crazy and fucked up. She texted me during all of this telling me she was going to ruin my life. And for about a month she did. I couldn’t eat, I just cried. I had some supportive friends, but many people were confused by what they were being told. She knew so many personal things about me and my relationships with other now and used it against me. Many people stopped talking to me, some said they hated me. What started out to be the best thing of my life, turned out to be the worst. The IP was verified as coming from Lela’s home computer and Lela admitted to being in my email to someone who has verified this to the detective of my legal case.When Lela was here she asked me in the car, what I was going to do once we opened and I was making money. My reply was I was going to get health insurance for myself because I need surgery, that I can’t wait to buy groceries once a week, and get a routine dental cleanup because they are so expensive. I was never selfish in the things I wanted, nor did I want to get rich or famous. I just wanted to work somewhere that was fun and creative and I could be me. I was hurt by her in many ways. My fiancé and I were counting on that money from her to pay our rent, when this happened we had nothing. So we moved, to save money and so she wouldn’t know where I lived, we moved. He took a tour with a new band so literally 20 minutes after we moved he had to leave for the entire month. I wasn’t myself and I wasn’t okay for a very long time. I’m mad at myself for working so hard, for trusting someone so much, all so blindly. Lela painted this picture of how my life would be if I gave it my all, so I did and I lost everything.I went to the police of course. As my boss she verbally abused and sexual harassed me. She got on facebook and wrote the nastiest things about me. For a moment, picture your boss right now, whether you work at Subway or Wal-Mart, or a doctor’s office. Image your boss going online and calling you a cunt. Imagine how you would feel if they said things to make people literally hate you. I couldn’t’ even defend myself. What she did wasn’t legal. You can’ be a boss and talk about an employee in that way. She even told people that I was the reason orders didn’t go out or a batch of glitter serum was made improperly, even though I live nowhere near here so it doesn’t make any sense that I could have done those things. Not paying me is a civil crime of course and there was written record of our agreement. Not a lot, but enough. Remember she deleted all my emails, so I only had a few things printed out. Most of the work I did was saved in my email, therefore lost.
I want to thank Issanna and everyone for sharing.It is my sincere hope that by giving everyone a forum in which to be heard that what happened with GlitterSniffer Cosmetics will be known so that people can make a safe, informed decision.The worst of it, of course is the email hacking. The government views this as taking someones mail. It’s a federal crime. If Lela lived in California she would be in jail right now. If Lela comes to California she will be arrested. Lela lives in Michigan and so the only way to have these things handled is if the FBI gets involved and the only way for them to be involved is if it’s a big enough case involving enough money or publicity. I have worked hard on my cases both civil and federal for months now.Not long after this happened, I was approached by some people who realized I was speaking the truth and who were fed up with the companies and its practices. Between the orders and the unsafe make-up it was sad to see all of this happening. On top of that it turns out things weren’t vegan which she had said were (as a vegetarian this upsets me, I don’t want animals in my tummy, so I don’t want on my face.) I decided I couldn’t just be depressed about it anymore and I had to do something. I started the very long journey of starting my own company. I wanted to offer a small company which had safe and vegan cosmetics. So I got a crappy job. Literally worked for minimum wage, full time so that I could raise the money I needed to start my own line. I didn’t want to just open one, I wanted to take the time and do it right. We are talking about 6 months of building my office, mixing my color palette, writing a new business plan, applying for a DBA and everything else…. A lot goes into starting a business. It took even longer however to start talking to people again. I mean… I talked to some. Yet, friends I had for years I just couldn’t handle reuniting with yet. I was still very hurt. This I regret since one friend of mine didn’t know I had stopped working for Lela… Lela asked her for item donations for gift baskets to raise for charity. Without batting an eyelash my friend said yes and shipped over $200 worth of handmade products. This friend was suppose to receive make-up as a compensation, but all emails to Lela were forever ignored. I could have prevented that if I hadn’t have been in my shell at the time. Luckily, we are still very good friends. I have repaired almost all my relationships from the nasty rumors Lela spread of me, not all… some still to this day won’t even give me the moment to tell my side of the story and it still hurts, but all I can do it move forward. It took me a long time to write this letter. I have tried to be there for those who have approached me and who were hurt by this company, I have been supportive of all the other make-up companies which have been opening up every month, because let’s face it not one of us invented make-up, but after the fall of GS we all wanted to offer something better to our friends and families, which I think it a great thing. There are many great indie companies out there now and they are all unique and amazing in their own way. I am putting my own out there which also has eye shadow, of course, but will soon have lots of other cute things and I think I have found my own niche among the other companies. I did make some decisions with doing this… one was I kept some of the names that I created for GS. I did this because the names I came up with were sentimental, for example I Fiend For It, is my fiance’s old aim screen name, Misshapes was my favorite club to go to when I lived in New York, Beauty Bar was another favorite place to go dancing… so the ones which meant something to me, yes I kept. It has been over 7 months and Lela still has not paid me for my work and since I was not paid for these things it is the same as stealing them from me. So, I am just taking them back and using them in a make-up company, the way they were originally intended. I also redid/tweaked the membership program. After I quit Lela never followed through with the one I created and I thought it was such a fun and original idea that I couldn’t not do it. I feel I’ve made it better in my own way. I wanted to bring up these few last points because I never wanted someone to run across them one day and think it was Lela starting a new company! No, it’s me just trying to accomplish the dream that I had over a year ago, of starting a vegan company and to have a job I love and can just have fun with. I know there have been a lot of hurt girls out there, and I’m sorry for every one of them, just remember that life is a very short and wonderful occurrence, I will be forever disappointed in myself for working for this person and giving her so much of the time I have living, but anyone who was taken advantage by her can do what I’m trying to do for myself. Heal and grow. Start your own hair bow line, or make-up line, or bath line. Or do photo shoots for a friend that has their own. Be supportive of each other… the worst is seeing people who were hurt and be so quick to get angry or judgmental of others. This is a painful thing for everyone. Lela Warren has not been in front of a courtroom, but what she has done, not just to me, but to everyone are criminal acts. At the end of the day she has to live with herself and the choices she has and still continues to make. We all, thankfully, all have our friends and families and a clear conscience.
You're Not Alone
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