Make-up Geek CEO Marlena Stell called out the beauty influencer community and accused them of being entitled. In the video uploaded on YouTube titled “Dear Influencers,” Marlena called out multiple influencers that have spoken out against Makeup Geek and her involvement in beauty drama.
During the video, Marlena said she wanted to clear the air and defend herself against allegations made by multiple influencers online. She told viewers that her goal was to share her side of the story and move on.
Marlena’s first target of the video was beauty influencer Jaclyn Hill. The Makeup Geek CEO discussed Hill’s failed lipstick launch, quality control issues, and the product launch that Hill backed out on with Makeup Geek.
According to Stell, she and Hill planned a collaborative launch of an eye shadow palette through Makeup Geek. However, Hill had already committed to two other cosmetic companies at the same time. Due to Hill’s packed schedule, the two women were never able to come to a formal business agreement.
Stell showed emails and communication with Hill that highlighted her attempts to launch the product. She shared that her company spent millions of dollars in preparation for the launch. However, Hill never signed a contract over the year they worked together. When Hill pulled out of the launch, Makeup Geek was left with thousands of eyeshadows, palette cases, and products that they could not sell.
During the video, Stell insisted she was not angry with Hill. She admitted her error in not having Hill sign a contract, and her fault in spending money before an official agreement was made.
Then Stell shared her belief that Hill rushed her production of the lipsticks. For the past month, Stell has inserted herself into Jaclyn Cosmetic’s lipstick snafu. On Twitter, Stell has publically called out Hill for not recalling her products.
In the video, Stell told her viewers that she only spoke up because she wanted to protect customers from using contaminated products. Additionally, she said Hill’s lack of response to recalling the products reflected poorly on the entire cosmetic industry.
Makeup Geek’s sales over the past few years have been lagging. The once blossoming company seems to have stalled. Influencers on YouTube and Instagram no longer promote the products by the cosmetic company. As a result, Stell’s insertion into lipstickgate had many people feeling her motives were disingenuous.
After sharing her feelings about Hill, Stell then aimed several other influencers. She brought up a tweet sent by James Charles in September 2018. The tweet related to Charles’ learning that Netflix was doing a documentary with Stell about the beauty industry.
Stell seemed irritated that Charles would attempt to insert himself into the documentary and change the direction. She took specific anger with him when Charles referred to her as “This woman” in response to Netflix about her relevance in the beauty community.
James tweets in September 2018 followed a video uploaded by Marlena Stell that accused influencers of charging brands money for negative reviews. Many influencers, including Charles, took issue with the way Stell presented her evidence. The influencers insisted other cosmetic companies and industry standard offered the rates they charged.
After airing the tweets by Charles, Stell told viewers the two of them aired out their issues privately. However, she still found ways to shade Charles by insisting that he blew her off after the dust settled between them.
Perhaps most problematic in Stell’s video was her lashing out at two small influencers. According to Stell, an influencer named Tina who runs the YouTube channel “Fancy Face” uploaded a video calling out Makeup Geek’s poor quality and bad business practices. Stell took issue with Tina calling her a “social climber” in a video.To defend herself against the “social climber” accusation, Stell told viewers that she helps out influencers no matter their channel size. She provided evidence that she supported and helped mentor several influencers without knowing if they would “blow up.”
In the video by Fancy Face, Tina called out Makeup Geek for producing poor quality makeup. Additionally, Tina described her long relationship with Marlena and how she believed the CEO dropped her for bigger names. Tina also blamed Stell for not keeping up with trends and putting out low-quality products.
Finally, Stell discussed a makeup influencer that she would not call out by name. However, she accused the influencer of extorting her for $60,000.00. Stell said that Makeup Geek used a photo of the influencer on their website for two years. After Stell released her video “My truth about the Beauty Community,” she said the influencer sent her a letter to remove the image and attempted to sue her.
While Stell refused to disclose the influencer’s name, WOACB found a video by a channel “Lashes, Love & Leather” that matched Stell’s account. In the video, micro-influencer Melrae Segal says that Makeup Geek used her image without her permission for two years.
According to Segal, Makeup Geek offered her $100 for a photo and review on their Contour products. In the agreement, Seagal said that Makeup Geek would use the image for a blog launch announcement and give her credit for the photo.
However, Segal insists she never consented to the brand using her image in their shop. Segal showed users the page on Makeup Geek that contained her image. After uploading the video, Segal sent the company a cease and desist letter to remove the photo. Additionally, Segal said she planned to sue the company for using her image for two years without her consent.
While Stell may have felt the need to defend herself, the videos by Segal and Tina were uploaded almost a year ago. By waiting ten months to respond, Stell’s motives seem to be suspect given the current status of her company.
At the end of the video, Stell admitted that her company has struggled over the past two years. She shared multiple reasons for why the company has not launched new products. Additionally, she discussed her plans to expand her business into other areas beyond Makeup Geek.
Finally, Stell told viewers that she would no longer be inserting herself into any more drama. She promised to distance herself from the influencer world and would focus solely on her job as the CEO of Makeup Geek.
Tell us your thoughts.
Do you think Marlena’s intentions were honorable? Or did she upload the video to help drum up sales for her company?
Want a deeper dive, watch our reaction to the video:
*Katie Joy is a columnist and hosts Without A Crystal Ball on Patheos Non-Religious Channel. She writes articles on parenting, disability advocacy, debunking pseudoscience, atheism, and crimes against women and children.
She co-hosts the YouTube show, “The Smoking Nun,” with Kyle Curtis on The Non-Sequitur Channel. The show airs weekly and tackles pseudoscience, current events, and crime stories.
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