LuLaRoe Slammed for Standing by Consultant Who Mocked People With Down Syndrome


After months of this company's being called out by consultants for its less-than-stellar business practices, LuLaRoe's latest scandal comes on the back of disturbing intolerance. After a successful consultant was seen online mocking people with Down syndrome, the company chose to stand by him, prompting a ton of backlash.

  • The controversy began when a video of consultant Bobby Budenbender surfaced on YouTube.

    The 1 minute and 27 second video was only a short clip from a larger Facebook Live sale that Budenbender and his wife, Taya, were doing to help sell their products.

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  • At one point in the video, Budenbender begins to make fun of himself in a way many viewed as mocking disabilities.

    "Hi my name is Robert," he says. "And I'm special."

  • The video quickly went viral, racking up over 100,000 views in only a few days.

    Many who saw it immediately began flooding Budenbender's social media pages with outrage, saying it was obvious the LuLaRoe seller was specifically mocking people with Down syndrome. Budenbender later deleted the video.

  • In response to the outrage, Budenbender and his wife made an "apology" video.

    The video featured his wife's sister, who has Down syndrome. In it, Budendender claims the original video was a "mistake" and says that his actions were taken "out of context."

    While the man admitted that what he did was "not very nice," he says his actions did not properly represent him as a person. "I have true respect for all people and view them with equality," he said. "I know I am flawed at times, and I have been humbled to take inventory on how I can represent myself online, as the man I really am inside."

  • Many were appalled by Budenbender's apology and were even more shocked to learn that LuLaRoe is standing by him.

    LuLaRoe founders Mark and DeAnne Stidham released an official statement on Facebook saying they found the consultant's apology to be sincere. "After speaking with the retailer at great length, we believe his apology is sincere and accepted his assurance that this type of behavior would never happen again," the statement reads. "We do not believe the most productive response to his actions, which he has fully apologized for, is to close his business and threaten his ability to provide for his family."

  • LuLaRoe's official stance on the situation has come as a huge shock to many.

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    Mark and DeAnne Stidham have a granddaughter named Scarlett who has Down syndrome, and they even designed a dress in her honor and pledged $1 of each sale to the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS).

    In response to the controversy, the NDSS ended its relationship with LuLaRoe. In a statement made Friday, NDSS said, "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."

  • Many of LuLaRoe's customers and former consultants are showing their support for the NDSS' decision.

    "This is not the first time LuLaRoe has backed racism and discrimination over ethics," wrote one Twitter user. 

  • "You are nothing but greedy monsters," said another.

    Consultant Nicole Palladino-Drake, who runs a LuLaRoe business with her sister who has Down syndrome, told BuzzFeed that LuLaRoe's actions are hurtful but not necessarily surprising to her. "This is heartbreaking that one person could cause this much damage," she said. "Sadly LuLaRoe has hurt us many other ways in the past year so this is just the icing on the cake for us and her business."

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