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The Ivanka Effect: The Business Ramifications Of A Turbulent Presidency

Politics

Ivanka Trump is very relatable and likable, a reassuring contrast from her polarizing father. During her father's presidential campaign, she advocated for making child care more affordable and accessible.


She helped create the child care tax plan that he released in September. The child care deduction that the Trump campaign proposed, back in September, was meant to augment the current child tax credit and dependent-care flexible spending accounts and could be available to families with a stay-at-home parent as well as to those paying for child care.

Photo: Business Insider

The plan that Ivanka wants would allow individuals earning less than $250,000 a year, or married couples earning less than $500,000, to deduct child care expenses from their income taxes, up to the average cost of care in their state, according to the September plan. Lower income families would receive a rebate for their expenses, up to $1,200 per year via the earned-income tax credit.

She's often portrayed herself as the advocator for bread-winning mothers as she harnessed her father's White House campaign and victory to elevate that image. She rallied to close the gender pay gap during her RNC speech: “Single women without children earn 94 cents for each dollar earned by a man, whereas married mothers made only 77 cents," said Ivanka. She added: “Gender is no longer the factor creating the wage discrepancy in this country, motherhood is." She's almost right; the gender is still a factor, but her point is notable.

It was almost enough to buy-in to her motivating speech. Ivanka IS a real-world role model. Had her father been almost any other man in America, her campaigning and stumping for her father would have been a resounding success.

But he isn't any other man, and he constantly reminds the American people every chance that he gets.

Presidential linguistics?

Whenever he encounters a perceived rival or potential threat, he bluntly assesses their appearance: “Can you imagine that, the face of our next president? He said about Carly Fiorina, before adding: “I mean, she's a woman, and I'm not supposed to say bad things, but really, folks, come on, are we serious?" He also declared that model Heidi Klum is “no longer a 10," that Arianna Huffington is “a dog who wrongfully comments on me," that Bette Midler is “extremely unattractive," and that Rosie O'Donnell is “a dog." His misogyny is well-documented and widely known.

But then came the shocking 2005 recording (published by The Washington Post) of his boasting that he could “grab women by the p***y," because “when you're a star they let you do it." When his wife, Melania, was questioned about it, she seemed genuinely hurt: “The words my husband used are unacceptable and offensive to me," she said in a statement. “This does not represent the man that I know." She continued: “I hope people will accept his apology as I have, and focus on the important issues facing our nation and the world."

But when did character stop being an important component of leadership?

Even with his unrelenting stream of misogynistic comments, his supporters could conveniently dismiss all of it as locker-room banter. Even Ivanka publicly commented on her father's now infamous comment: “My father's comments were clearly inappropriate and offensive," she said in an interview with Fast Company magazine; and I'm glad that he acknowledged this fact with an immediate apology to my family and the American people."

But that wasn't good enough for many others, including Shannon Coulter, who runs a marketing boutique firm near San Francisco. A male boss had groped her once and Trump's comments reminded her of that pain, saying: “She (Ivanka) puts women's empowerment at the center of her brand, and is still campaigning for someone who is an alleged serial sex assaulter." Coulter birthed the hashtag #ivankant and shared her thoughts with the Internet, sparking a trend that had reached more than two million Twitter accounts: #BoycottIvanka.

The popular hashtag #GrabYourWallet urges American consumers to boycott stores and websites that carry Trump products. The movement has persuaded several companies to drop their Trump products, namely items in Ivanka Trump's fashion line.

Clarifying words...

But his own words allege sexual assault, of course he dismissed it as locker-room banter, but that revelation became ground zero for #ivankant #fashionnotfascism #BoycottIvanka and #GrabYourWallet, and with it the birth of a powerful movement. His unorthodox leadership style fueled mass protests not just around the country, but also in cities around the world.

A talented writer who writes for Cosmopolitan, Michelle Ruiz, wrote a riveting piece about why women are boycotting Ivanka Trump, back in October, 2016.

Ruiz talks about one woman's personal account, a female college student that she interviewed, a former self-described “Maxxinista," who can longer shop there because they carry the Trump clothing line. It didn't even matter that Ivanka's name was the only Trump name on the label. Read the Ruiz article but be warned of certain trigger words and expect to be moved by the female college student's personal account of how she suffered traumatic flashbacks to the physical and sexual abuse of her past.

In short, the student said: “My first thought was, grab them by the p***y, we can do anything we want, we don't even ask." She went on to say that “This is what Trump means to me." And she's not alone.

Photo: Mark Wilson

Another woman who, wishes to remain anonymous, identifies as a proud Republican, and lives in New York City. She said that, she too, can no longer purchase Trump's blouses: “I just can't do it; I can't bring myself to buy it." She added that she doesn't dislike Ivanka at all: “I know that she can't control her Dad; she's in a hard position."

Appearances can deceive...

Ivanka has been remarkably cool and composed given how it's affecting her business prospects: “The beauty of America is that people can do what they like, but I prefer to talk to the millions-tens of millions-of American women who are inspired by the brand and the message I've created," she revealed in an interview with Good Morning America.

When Ivanka gave the introduction speech during the Republican National Convention, she said that her father had told her, when she was growing up, that there's nothing that you can't accomplish when you marry vision and passion with an enduring work ethic." One cannot help but imagine just how much she must work now to undo the damage created by her father's seemingly never-ending string of verbal mishaps.

Significant fallout...

Since the election, 3,600 Trump-branded products have been dropped from online stores. That represents a 61 percent drop in products since late November, 2016, according to Shannon Coulter who published the data. Stores such as Nordstrom's, Neiman Marcus, Belk, Kmart, Sear's, Burlington Coat Factory, Marshall's, Saks Fifth Avenue, and others have stopped selling Ivanka Trump's products online.

Getting beyond something of this magnitude will require a significant amount of endurance and strength to overcome. Publicly she appears composed and strong. But when alone one must wonder how heavy a toll this must be for her to endure. Then again, countless scores of people suffer quietly alone, everyday of their lives, struggling with the painful memories of sexual abuse.

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Fresh Voices

How I Went From Shy Immigrant to Co-Founder of OPI, the World's #1 Nail Brand

In many ways I am a shining example of the American Dream. I was born in Hungary during the Communist era, and my family fled to Israel before coming to the U.S. in pursuit of freedom and safety. When we arrived, I was just a young, shy girl who couldn't speak English. After my childhood in Hungary, New York City was a marvel; I couldn't believe that such a lively, rich place existed. Even a simple thing like going to the market and seeing all the bright, colorful produce and having so many choices was new to me. I'll never take that for granted. I think it's where my love affair with color truly began.


One thing I had was a strong work ethic. I worked hard in school, to learn English, and at jobs including my first job at Dairy Queen -- which I loved! Ice cream is easily my favorite food. From there, I moved into the garment district where my brother-in-law's family had a business. During this time, I was able to see how a business was run and began to hone in on my eye for aesthetics and willingness to work hard at any task I was given.

Eventually, my brother-in-law bought a dental supply company in Los Angeles and asked me to join him. LA, a place with 365-days of sunshine. How could I say no? The company started as Odontorium Products Inc. During the acrylic movement of the 1980s, we realized that nail technicians were buying our product, and that the same components used for dentures were used for artificial nails. We saw a potential opening in the market, and we seized it. OPI began dropping off the "rubber band special" at every salon on Ventura Blvd. in Los Angeles. A jar of powder, liquid and primer – rubber-banded together – became the OPI Traditional Acrylic System and was a huge hit, giving OPI its start in the professional nail industry. It was 1981 when OPI first opened its doors. I couldn't have predicted our success, but I knew that hard work and faith in myself would be key in transforming a new business into a company with global reach.

When we started OPI, what we were doing was something new. Before OPI came on the scene, the generic, utilitarian nail polish names already on the market – like Red No. 4, Pink No. 2 – were completely forgettable. We rebranded the category with catchy names that we knew women could relate to and would remember. The industry was stale and boring, so we made it more fun and sexy. We started creating color collections. I carefully developed 30 groundbreaking colors for the debut collection -- many of which are still beloved bestsellers today, including Malaga Wine, Alpine Snow and Kyoto Pearl.

There is no other nail color brand in the world that touches the totality of industries the way OPI does.

With deep roots in Tinseltown, we eventually started collaborating with Hollywood. Our decision to collaborate with the entertainment industry also propelled OPI forward in another way, ultimately leading us to finding a way to connect with women beyond the world of beauty, relating our products to the beverages they drink, the cars they drive, the movies they watch, the clothes they wear – even the shade they use to paint their living room walls! There is no other nail color brand in the world that touches the totality of industries the way OPI does. It also propelled my growth as a businessperson forward. I found myself sitting in meetings with executives from some of the top companies in the world. I didn't have a fancy presentation. I didn't have a Harvard business degree. I realized that what I had was passion. I had a passion for what we were doing, and I had my own unique story that no one else could replicate.

Discipline, hard work, and passion gave me the confidence to grow from that shy immigrant girl to become the person that I am today

Bit by bit, I grew up with the business. Discipline, hard work, and passion gave me the confidence to grow from that shy immigrant girl to become the person that I am today -- an author, public speaker, and co-founder of OPI, the world's #1 professional nail brand.

I learned quickly that one can be an expert at many things, but not everything. Running a business is very hard work. Luckily, I had someone I could collaborate with who brought something new to the table and complemented my talents, my brother-in-law George Schaeffer. My business "superpower," or the ability to make decisions quickly and confidently, kept me ahead of trends and competition.

Another key to my success in building this brand and in growing in business was being authentic. Authenticity is so important to brands and maybe even more so now in the time of social media when you can speak directly to your consumers. I realized even then that I could only be me. I was a woman who knew what I wanted. I looked at my mother and daughter and wanted to create products that would excite and empower them.

There's often an expectation placed on women in charge that they need to be cutthroat to be competitive, but that's not true. Rather than focusing on my gender or any implied limitations I might bring to the job as a female and a mother, I always focused instead on my vision. I deliberately fostered an environment at OPI filled with warmth. After all, at the end of the day, your organization is only as good as its people. I've always found that being nice, being humble, and listening to others has served me well. Instead of pushing others down to get to the top, inspire them and bring them along on the journey.

You can read more about my personal and professional journey in my new memoir out now, I'm Not Really a Waitress: How One Woman Took Over the Beauty Industry One Color at a Time.