Content warning: mental illness, suicide & bullying, domestic violence, sexual assault
Many of you have heard rumors, even some terrible things about me and my company, Belladonna. Most of those things aren’t true. Some unfortunately are. What you don’t know is the full story, how this happened and why. For months now, I’ve been locked under contracts with much bigger companies that have prevented me from speaking publicly about these issues. They’ve prevented me from handling things in the manner I wanted to. The most important thing to me is that any wrongs done under my company name, are righted. That means refunds and products going out as quickly as I can make that happen. You don’t have to believe me. That’s between you and your god(s) and your conscience. I do have receipts. I have concrete proof of every claim made in this statement. I will likely be sharing some if not all of that proof publicly at some point but right now I’m in the process of working with my attorneys to hold the responsible parties accountable for this mess to the best of my ability so I will defer to their council on when it is appropriate to share the rest of that information. If you ordered from my company and did not receive products or refunds, that will be corrected. You were wronged. You were not scammed, at least not by me. Scamming involves intention. We got behind because of a series of circumstances last summer which I’ve already pubslished, in September we caught up almost completely with a plan to catch up the rest of the way by December. In January, I thought we had. I thought every single order that was supposed to go out in December, went out. I paid for the supplies, paid my partner and her assistants to make and ship these products. Paid for shipping. I didn’t find out the extent of what happened until early February that my partner had stopped using the proper recipes (thus the breakages), and that many many orders had been hidden, products stashed or destroyed and money stolen from the company. I brought on new partners to try and help clean up this mess. They’ve been handling things since then while I try and stabilize enough so that I can get the funds together to fix this mess. There has been some conflicting information sent out in that time frame because the plan of action on how to handle this was not clear, for that I apologize. Now I’m back and I’m going to fix this. Again, you don’t have to trust me. I don’t blame you for that, but I’m a victim in this too and all I want to do is make it right for you. You can keep attacking me and harassing me and my friends if you want to, that’s your prerogative. There are a handful of individuals that are spreading lies about me and what happened, they will be dealt with legally. Post truth about your experiences, feel free. That’s your right. Make videos, make reviews. That’s all fine, but the more you come to me directly or try to cause problems for me directly, the more difficult it will be for me to fix this for you and that’s all I want to do. If I have to file bankruptcy for Belladonna, no one will be getting any products or refunds because we are in debt and we don’t have any money in the first place, that’s why it’s taking time to fix this.
Through passion and wanting to make positive changes in an industry that often rejects that, we managed to grow bigger than we ever imagined, and with no outside capital, nor money to start with. All of the money from sales went back into the business, but after several manufacturers took my money and screwed me over, I had to make more money to try to more manufacturers before products could be filled. Before it all crashed down, we worked on this business for 8 years before it went Viral and grew exponentially last year. We completed several successful pre-order launches prior to last year and I never anticipated the type of manufacturing issues we would experience. It never reached a point where we took a salary. I never paid myself and it was never more than 1-3 people doing absolutely everything until it was already too late to bring it back from the edge of destruction. I spent most of last year waking up, working, and then going to sleep for no more than 4 hours a night. literally every single day. Working, not sleeping. No breaks. That’s not sustainable for anyone. Humans are not machines. So many people have said just file bankruptcy. Just walk away. Don’t offer refunds. I refuse to do that. I take full responsibility for this mess even if the bulk of what went wrong was out of my control. I am an owner. That means that I was and am one of the ultimate responsible parties. Honesty and integrity in business and personal life has always been paramount to me. We didn’t spend money lavishly. Housing and basic costs were covered for the first time in my adult life, we had enough money coming in to eat regularly. All of the funds went into the business. In light of these problems, we found ourselves in a delicate balance between our commitments to other, much larger companies and their restrictive contracts that left us unable to publicly explain what was happening behind the scenes and why. Launches had to push forward before the mess was cleaned up even when I wanted to wait and I’ve had to fight to get proper help and to regain control of this monster. People see me at events that I work at, I’m not paying to be there, I’m there to work. People see me traveling when the only cost is gas and I work from the road. I barely eat even once a day when I’m traveling and I’m doing it to make money that I’m using to fix this mess for you. I’ve handed many of these vending opportunities over to my friends’ businesses, allowing them to use my business name and connections we’ve built to vend or promote for free because we haven’t launched anything new for months despite rumors to the contrary. It’s not been us vending our products for years, it’s been us trying to help my friends out grow their businesses because we don’t have anything to sell.
The book palettes are still coming, the tentacle brushes are still coming. Trademark pending, I’m working with investors to sell the rights to them so we won’t even profit from them but you will get your products filled as soon as possible because I’ve had repeated issues with manufacturers that have repeatedly made empty and broken promises and I’ve lost $10s of thousands of dollars trying to make them happen for you, far more than we ever received in pre-orders.
One of the important things to understand about my story is that I’m disabled. I am both on the autism spectrum and I struggle from severe mental illness due to PTSD from my childhood. I’ve successfully managed this in part by working for myself for years, (or in jobs that allow me a lot of time for scheduling freedom so that on good days I can work with the public and on bad days I can work from home).
It is also traumatizing it is to face bullying on the internet by faceless masses who have no idea about your personal situation or intentions, while they make up falsehoods about you and your business and you have to watch them spread like wildfire. I’ve become traumatized to the point where even opening emails sends me into a panic attack. I have someone else handling emails and social media now and after doing it for a while they are experiencing some of the same ptsd symptoms. I’ve broken down so hard over this. Harder than I ever thought I could.
When you grow up in an abusive household, what you know of Love isn’t Love. It’s something more akin to control, dominance, power, and pain. Throughout my adulthood, ever since I found myself on my own at 16, and learning how to fend for myself in the world, this has been a hard-learned, (and unfortunately, Repeated,) lesson. I found myself in a relationship for 5 years at 17, wherein I had the holy shit beaten out of me nearly daily at certain points, and I thought this was Normal. Growing up in the Midwest, where domestic violence is normal and rape culture is ever pervasive, (As well as growing up in the system,) I was taught that I had no choice and no bodily autonomy. It never even occurred to me that I had a say or that several situations I found myself in were non-consensual, wrong, or abusive. Over time, as I grew as a person, I learned what these toxic behaviors were. I learned how to be a better person and stopped the cycle of “abuse-victim becoming the abuser” like so many of my tormentors fell victim to in their own way. Inflicting those same behavioral patterns that once tormented them on unsuspecting others.
Last year, things came to a head when a family friend who had offered to take us in took full advantage of me and the vulnerable situation I was in by forcing himself on me repeatedly. I’m out of that situation now, but getting out of it thrust myself and my family into a series of chaotic situations that have affected all of us and our production at the peak of my businesses popularity and momentum. I had thought that was the end of it when we escaped and instead, I switched focus from maintaining integrity over my mind and body to surviving in this expensive city and trying like hell to catch up on orders. That combined with manufacturing issues, is what led to us to get behind on orders last summer, the ones that we mostly caught up on in September.
As I have continued to work on myself and strive for a higher standard of integrity and quality, some of the people who had been closest to me for many years fell to the wayside as I discovered that their values no longer aligned with mine (the situation with my partner described above for example) Situations that were once beneficial had grown toxic, and friends & family once helpful had become abusive. I just want to say to anyone out there who has experienced anything like this and is still here, that you’re a fucking rockstar and I am so Proud of you. I almost didn’t make it. So many times. Change and growth is hard but if we shy away from it out of fear, then nothing will ever truly blossom. It is our responsibility to do better because not everyone will.
I still believe, perhaps willfully naively, that most people are inherently good and I still wholeheartedly believe that one person can make all the difference. I will never stop working on improving myself. I’m truly sorry to anyone who was hurt by those in my court while I was ignorant of their true nature and behavior. We finally have enough money is coming in to cover the costs of supplies for all the backorders and to pay back our most urgent lenders, refunds and obligations, not immediately but over the next 3-4 months. I’m sure several of our business associates will he unhappy that I am finally going public with this information but I can’t hide from my truth any longer. Our customers and friends and family deserve the whole story and I am happy to answer any questions in detail that anyone has for me as long as they are asked politely and respectfully.
I appreciate every single one of you who has supported us, helped us, bought from us, and even who are reading this now. You are willing to listen and that means the world to me. We would be nothing without you. No one accomplishes anything alone. All I want to do is make this right, and I will, If you will let me.