If you’ve not heard of Nena & Co., you should go look at their handbags right now. They sell gorgeous, hand-woven bags with leather trim as well as leather bags. When the founder, Ali Hynek, created the company in 2013, she wanted to assure that their artisans all over the world were paid a fair, living wage for their gorgeous artwork. This is what you do so you are not smuggling imported goods.
“My main goal is to bring how I see Guatemala to everyone else in the world. It’s a very beautiful culture, with beautiful people, that can create beautiful things. As Nena grew, I realized the only way I could truly know that our leather craftsmen/women were being paid fairly, using quality materials, working in a safe environment and being given sustainable work was to do our own manufacturing. That’s when I decided to partner with my mom to take on the responsibility of building the Guatemalan team of 60+ seamstresses, leather craftsmen/women, master weavers and administration staff. And that team is still growing! Nena and Co. honors its work and pays our employees and craftsmen/women fair wages.”
Back in March of 2017, quite a few mentors were chosen to go on a trip to Guatemala to tour the LuLaRoe factories that create their clothing.
While they were there, there perused the cities they visited and came across the independent artisans that hand-craft these gorgeous bags. Several of the mentors purchased a great deal of these bags to take back to the USA, under the guise of using them as “giveaways” for team incentives; this does not qualify as a gift because you are expecting someone to “do” something to receive the “prize”.
When you bring items into the USA from a foreign country, you must declare those items so that you can pay the proper duty tax. Smuggling imported goods is a big effin’ deal, folks.
“When entering the U.S. or returning to the U.S. from a foreign country with goods you purchased or received during your trip, you must declare them on a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) declaration CBP form 6059B. This includes gifts received or purchased for someone else, personal purchases, goods you intend to sell and purchases made in duty-free shops. Having proof of purchase (i.e. invoice, receipt or bill of sale, etc.) will make declaring your goods easier and give the CBP Officer an idea of how much was paid for the goods and whether they are eligible for an exemption or reduced duty rate. If you received a gift, the CBPO will determine fair market value. If you are a U.S. resident returning from a foreign country with goods acquired abroad in your possession after a stay of 48-hours or more, you may be eligible for a personal duty-free exemption. If you are returning from Mexico, the 48-hour rule does not apply. The personal exemption you are eligible for depends on the country you are returning from. For instance, if you are returning from countries other than the Caribbean countries or U.S. insular possession you are entitled to an $800 duty-free exemption and the next $1,000 worth of the goods you purchased is subject to a flat rate of 3%. If the value exceeds $1,800, the remaining duty will be determined based on duty rates in the harmonized tariff schedule, which are generally between 0-10% (except for clothing and textiles, which can be much higher, up to 25%).”
So, there’s a little snippet that explains duty tax. Regardless of whether the items coming in are gifts or otherwise, in some instances, duty must be paid. DeAnne, in typical deceitful fashion, advised the mentors on the trip to blatantly lie and declare everything that they were bringing back as gifts, with the intent to pay the lowest duty possible.
While this doesn’t surprise me in the least, it is clearly illegal to avoid duty tax by stating something is a “gift”. Penalties for avoiding duty tax can be upwards of $20,000.
Kira Tuiaki brought bag many, many bags from her trip to Guatemala. As advise by DeAnne, she claimed them all as gifts. Customs was not buying the charade and held her items at customs in Miami. She missed her flight and was not allowed to take the bags with her on her next flight to Las Vegas.
As some of you may know, LuLaRoe Leadership was this past week at Disneyland in California. In true LuLaRoe money-grabbing tradition, they set up some items to sell from the LuLaRoe Supply Store (I’m not going to provide the link here). LuLaRoe Supply sells items directly to anyone that wants to shop on their site, bypassing the retailers completely. There are designs and styles on the site that you cannot purchase from any LuLaRoe retailer.
In the “Pop-up” LuLaRoe Supply Store at Leadership, there was a display of these Guatemalan bags FOR SALE. Yes, for sale. DeAnne advise the mentors on the trip to declare these items as “gifts” and not for resale. Yet here she is, selling bags just like those at Leadership this week.
In October of 2017, some of the HO staff went back to Guatemala – I am of the opinion that this is when the incident happened that I will be explaining below.
Fast forward to the present day. Courtney Harwood was a mentor within LuLaRoe and was one of the first mentors to leave. She was also one of the first to speak publicly about the deceptive and immoral business practices that were going on at LuLaRoe. When she left LuLaRoe, it did not go smoothly. Most of us have been subject to the “mean girl” syndrome, so you can imagine the flak that she received from LuLaRoe. It’s been alleged that she was threatened by LuLaRoe about sharing the “inside scoop” on the company.
Courtney loved the Guatemalan bags while she was on the trip and had decided that she wanted to legally import these bags into the USA and start her own handbag boutique. She had her supply chain set up, legally, and had worked with one artisan to purchase bags directly from them. This information apparently got back to DeAnne and DeAnne threatened Courtney’s supplier and purchased all their bags. The supplier was no longer able to fulfill Courtney’s order, and this delayed her boutique opening by a couple months. I firmly believe that DeAnne did this in retaliation because Courtney continues to speak out against LuLaRoe.
I am outraged at the petty and childish behavior of DeAnne, but am not surprised. It is glaringly apparent that she perpetuates this mean girl syndrome from the top down, and will do anything to try and destroy anyone that thinks on their own or speaks out against her.
DeAnne, I’m very sure that these screenshots have been provided to the class action attorneys. Do not be surprised if you receive communications from USA Export Compliance regarding this issue. In true LuLaRoe fashion, are you going to tie knots in your prison uniform?
If you would like to purchase ethically sourced handbags from these wonderful artisans, please go to Courtney’s Facebook group: that’s where she’s selling from now until her website is up and running.
For those of you that don’t know, P!phany was originally called Honey & Lace. Honey & Lace is owned by LuLaRoe DeAnne Brady Stidham’s sister, DiAnne. DiAnne and DeAnne no longer speak and it is alleged that DeAnne stole the “maxi skirt” concept out from under DiAnne and pushed her out of the business when LuLaRoe was started. There’s a whole sorted family mess around these two and it appears to be all DeAnne’s fault. I’m not here to discuss that point though, but only to inform my readers that the very first P!phany consultant has resigned. Screenshots are below.