In a few days, thousands of comments expressed their disappointment, even calling for a “boycott”.
Since last Tuesday, the Lou Yetu jewelry brand, popular with young fashion-savvy women and popular on social networks, has come under fire.
Numerous anonymous testimonials from former employees, via the Instagram account “Balance Ta Start-Up”, which denounce, in a jumble, brutal management on the part of the founder, a recruitment targeting young pretty women, and a marketing based on the misleading “Made in France”.
Charges formally denied by the company.
The testimonies relate, above all, to the extended hours, the pressure, the “climate of terror” experienced by the employees in the store and their supervision.
"I had two burnouts because of exhaustion and moral pressure, weeks of more than 70 hours of work and that was never enough according to the boss", one reads in a publication, directly attacking Camille Riou, the founder of the brand.
"Work never lives up to its expectations, so it's common to receive derogatory reflections like
I'm sick of catching up on everyone's bullshit
, or 10pm warning emails. just to have a good night's sleep, ”says another surfer.
"No more distinction between professional life and private life"
A feeling shared by former employees with the Parisian.
“The managers had to be available all the time.
There was no longer any distinction between private and professional life, ”recalls Coline *, who worked for a year in two of the brand's Parisian boutiques.
“We were given a lot of incentives to achieve in-store sales targets, to do more.
But the bonuses, I did not see much, while we were meeting the objectives, ”she laments, stressing however that she has held up thanks to the solidarity of the teams, which she considers“ brilliant ”.
Coline left the company in 2019, when hiring under the status of autoentrepreneur, and not interim or on contracts, became the norm, she says.
Aude *, she briefly went through the boutique in 2016.
But she still retains a negative memory.
“I was always in advance at the store, I made my exact schedules.
One day, I had an afternoon break, so I didn't come.
The next day, I came back, and the other saleswomen looked surprised: they told me that Camille had told them that I had been fired, because I did not respect my schedules, that I had taken an hour break instead of 30 minutes a day, which was absolutely wrong, ”she recalls.
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"At the time, I did not understand, I still took my work station, and when Camille also returned, she said nothing to me, the air of nothing", adds the young woman. , who was only 18 at the time.
Lou Yetu denounces "a smear campaign"
Another pitfall, according to testimonies: the recruitment methods, which excluded profiles that did not correspond to Instagram codes.
“When it comes to recruiting girls, it was better not to be fat and typical.
There were racist criteria, ”even says Coline.
“This is what we see on the Lou Yetu stories, a smooth, white profile, young and pretty women.
It's a brand image, ”she adds.
"If we weren't a little pretty, we had to be hidden", we also read in another message on the account Balance your startup, which has, since its first publication on the subject, gained dozens of thousands of subscribers and claims to have received "a lot of testimonials".
Lou Yetu, for his part, “firmly” denies all the accusations “brought against the company anonymously and fiercely by the Balance your Startup account”.
“They are considered unfounded and in all likelihood orchestrated as part of a smear campaign,” adds the company through its communications officer.
The mark specifies that no procedure supporting these denunciations has been launched against the management.
In response, she plans to prosecute.
"We are vigilant in respecting the rights of society, and we will be forced to prosecute all those who relay defamatory allegations, malicious comments on social networks, which constitute cyberstalking for the company, its founder and the employees in place. She says.
“Made in France” or “Made in China”?
Pending possible legal proceedings, the consequences of this publication are already being felt.
Interested, the Le Bon Marché store, which had once hosted a stand of the brand, affirms on Twitter to take "particularly seriously these allegations which show practices totally contrary" to its values.
There are many comments from clients claiming to want to “boycott” the brand, not only because of the testimonials on the working conditions of the employees, but also because of the comments made about the jewelry sold.
I wouldn't want to be #LouYetu's comm / CM manager this morning, the night must have been tough.
Having to speak out and justify the immoral acts of its founder, this is clearly not the simplest mission of the profession 💪 Courage to all employees!
- Sireadbooks (@sireadbooks) January 20, 2021
Because according to several accounts, the Lou Yetu brand, which prides itself on being "Made in France", is in fact supplied from Chinese wholesalers.
“What surprised me was that we opened large bags of chains with the writing 'Made in China', then we added pendants, it was a little embarrassing in front of customers, since we told them that it was made in France, ”says Aude.
“I made inventories and on certain jewels, I clearly saw Made in China.
In fact, certain products arrived not finished, it was necessary to put a clasp, and as there was an assembly, it was considered as being made in France, whereas not ”, abounds Coline.
Charges also denied by the brand to the Parisian, who does not wish to participate "in the media tribunal".
She had already challenged these assertions in a press release sent to Balance Ta Start-Up.
“Since 2017, our products have been created and assembled in France in our workshop in Paris.
We do not work with any wholesaler who would deliver finished catalog products to us and even less with foreign manufacturers of finished jewelry.
Certain components of our jewelry - stones, cast iron, chains - may come from foreign countries but they are transformed and assembled by us with our partner workshops in Paris ”, we could read.
For her part, the creator of the Balance Ta Start-Up account, interviewed by Les Echos, aims to "give basic advice on labor law, on what an employer can do or not do, on how to set up a file in case of dispute ”.
* The first names have been changed.