LuLaRoe, a multi-marketing women’s clothing company known for their ultra-soft and comfortable apparel, is facing heavy criticism after a video made by one of their retail partners, Robert “Bobby” Budenbender, showed the man mocking people with special needs.
Bobby is a top-selling LuLaRoe consultant along with his wife, Taya Budenbender. The couple has a strong following with the company, and have garnered over 20,000 people in just one of their VIP Facebook groups.
Many have expressed that the video has led them to completely disassociate with LuLaRoe based on the company’s decision to keep the Budenbender’s contract in place, despite an outcry from both the public and the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS).
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Bobby Made a Video that Shows Him Clearly Mocking Those With Special Needs
In the video above, Bobby can be seen mocking special needs people during a live sale for LuLaRoe, acting in a completely different manner than other recordings in which he has appeared.
“My name is Robert, I’m special, my name is Robert and I am really special!,” Bobby could be heard saying in a derogatory manner at one point in the video.
In a moment of perhaps a complete lapse of judgement the man can be seen making faces, adding fuel to the fire that had already been ignited.
Heavy reached out to the Budenbender’s but did not receive an immediate response.
2. LuLaRoe Sided With Bobby After the Video Surfaced & He Offered an Apology
Despite the outrage expressed by those who had watched the offensive video, LuLaRoe decided to side with Bobby after he issued an apology via the above video. The company stated, in part:
Regrettably, a LuLaRoe Independent Fashion Retailer exhibited unacceptable and insensitive behavior during a live sale, which understandably offended viewers as well as everyone at LuLaRoe. His bad judgment in no way represents the beliefs and character of LuLaRoe or Independent Fashion Retailers.
Immediately after his sale, the Retailer posted an apology. He also reached out to NDSS and said he and his wife have agreed to use the incident as a learning experience and expressed his intention to focus his business on support for the organization and its cause.
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. We are also using this unfortunate incident as an opportunity to redouble our sensitivity and tolerance training efforts and policies for Independent Fashion Retailers.
Many people, including former LuLaRoe sales consultant Mime Ruiz, believe the apology video only dug Bobby into a deeper hole than he had already been in.
“I think having his sister-in-law in the video really bothered me,” the woman told Heavy. “It wasn’t right to drag her into his mess.”
“Honestly, I think it was in poor taste,” Roberta Blevins stated to Heavy. “It felt to me like he was trying to ‘prove’ it was OK for him to speak that way by using his sister-in-law as a prop. They need to use this as a learning experience and do much better in the future.”
3. This Isn’t the First Time Bobby Was Scrutinized for Speaking Negatively About Those With Special Needs
In the screenshot above, a man by the name of Edward (his last name is blacked out to protect his identity) published a public post to Facebook asking for assistance from friends to prove to Bobby that he had done certain things such as skydiving, which Bobby had apparently argued at some point.
In the next screenshot, you can see Bobby’s response. “Do you hear that special Ed?,” he stated. “Those are called crickets.”
4. The National Down Syndrome Society Deemed the Video ‘Unacceptable’ & Ended Their Relationship with LuLaRoe
“This video is unacceptable and further perpetuates the stigmas we work to fight and end each and every day at NDSS,” the society wrote on their Facebook page. The full statement reads:
Within the last 24 hours, it has come to the attention of the National Down Syndrome Society that an online video by a LuLaRoe independent retailer, which mocks a person with a disability, was posted on YouTube. 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.
As the leading human rights organization for all individuals with Down syndrome, we envision a world in which all people with Down syndrome have the opportunity to enhance their quality of life, realize their life aspirations and become valued members of welcoming communities.
We will continue advocating for all individuals with Down syndrome, the Down syndrome community and living our vital mission statement each and every single day.
Gordon Spoor, Chairman of the Board
Sara Hart Weir, President and CEO
5. Taya Sold LuLaRoe While in the Hospital After Giving Birth
Possibly the most defining moment where Taya proved that she was a die-hard LuLaRoe consultant came when she decided to sell the apparel shortly after giving birth, while still in the hospital.
“We just had a baby 👶!!!!,” Taya exclaimed in September 2017 via Facebook, according to Q102 Philly. “Come and celebrate 🎉 Hospital sale happening now!! We have saved a lot of special goodies for this special day!”
Taya had just given birth to a second child, Braxton. Soon after the baby’s arrival, Taya and Bobby “hosted a live-sale of LuLaRoe clothing,” according to the station.
Though the couple had posted videos and photos showing their true dedication to the clothier while still in the hospital, those posts have since been taken down. Several other posts affiliated with the couple also appear to have been deleted after the offensive video was published.
A petition has been created on Change.org to revoke the contract of the offending party. You may sign by clicking here.