Great Jones has always been more than a millennial cookware company. Owning the Dutchess says something about you—you’re a young professional, living in a tiny Williamsburg apartment with zero countertop space, who has memorized Alison Roman’s Caramelized Shallot Pasta and dreams of hosting backyard pizza parties.
It’s part of the reason DTC brands like Great Jones have a special cachet. They’re simultaneously hip and ingenious, but they reach beyond aesthetic. To me, they’re their mission, their culture, and their team roster. So when the entire team walks off the field, it’s a force majeure event.
On Monday, journalist Anna Silman stirred the pot and published an Insider article (can confirm it’s worth the $1 subscription), unveiling the messy cofounder fallout between Sierra Tishgart and Maddy Moelis that ultimately led to the resignation of the six full-time staffers who were there at the time (props to them for speaking up in this piece). “It was all very much about the facade,” the operations lead told BI about the aspirational brand. Former staffers described a toxic workplace culture and poor quality products (I’m honestly too scared to use my blueberry Hot Dish after breaking my first one, less than a month after I got it).
As a DTC fangirl and owner of a few Great Jones products, my phone, Twitter, and mental headspace have all been consumed by this story. Even my Nap Dress group chat quickly turned into a Great Jones catastrophe debrief. We were all trying to make sense of yet another female founder takedown.
Great Jones is the latest brand to join Away, Glossier, Outdoor Voices, and The Wing in the decline of the girlboss convo. And I can’t help but feel sheer disappointment. It’s not like I didn’t see this coming. But it’s another example of women building this entrepreneur narrative—particularly white women from privileged backgrounds—of launching mission-driven brands to uplift other women. Yet they often carry out the same discriminatory practices and create unwelcoming, unsafe work environments like any “traditional” business. In the case of Great Jones, “employees said Tishgart treated them as personal assistants—in a few instances having them return shoes she’d ordered online.” An employee in creative said, “I would just walk out of meetings, sobbing, saying it’s just not going to get better, she’s not going to change.” As the Tumblr saying goes, “Gaslight, gatekeep, girlboss,” and now, we have gaslight, gatekeep, Great Jones.
All the while, I’m still grappling with the double standard for women, especially female founders. I’m not standing by Tishgart’s behavior, but it’s all part of a larger issue. Women—especially BIPOC women—are judged for staying quiet, while they’re also judged for speaking up and asserting themselves. We all hold onto hope, thinking these women could change the narrative and lead without succumbing to power and ego like many male CEOs, but it’s all just a trap. At the end of the day, women CEOs are just CEOs. Glamorized DTC brands are just brands. So where do we go from here?