Tarte Cosmetics CEO Maureen Kelly posted her own TikTok video in response to two lifestyle influencers who shared their frustrations following a recent brand trip to Miami. Now one of them has responded to it.
Bria Jones, who has 462,000 followers, felt inclined to delete her original video and temporarily deactivated her account after she told Insider she received “online bullying and death threats” when Kelly posted her response. Jones had said in a video on May 3 that she felt as though she was treated as a “second-tier person” at the Tarte brand trip after she was not invited to watch the final Formula 1 race with some other influencers.
Jones’s video, which had over 800,000 views before it was taken down, showed the creator visibly emotional as she told her audience that she was dropping out of the trip after learning her event itinerary was different from other guests. She explained that she was invited to fly to Miami on Thursday and was to return home on Saturday, but later found out that others were invited to the Formula 1 race that was happening on Sunday and were staying through Monday.
“I will be damned as a Black creator if I accept anything other than equal treatment on these trips,” she said in her video, according to Insider. “I have more integrity than to get all the way to Miami and realize that I’m being treated like a second-tier person, or like I’m being ranked.”
Tarte responded that it was apologetic for the “miscommunication” because there were different schedules for different waves of influencers who were invited. The main Formula 1 race was on Sunday, but there were qualifying races happening on Friday and Saturday.
Tarte CMO Sam Kitain told Insider in a statement that “creators with all different size followings were invited across the 3 days” and after learning that “several people preferred a specific day of the race,” some influencers got tickets for the Sunday race.
Drama was happening outside of the influencer circles too, as the Miami Grand Prix is one of the more expensive races to go to, so fans were mad people who didn’t seem to have an interest in the sport outside of getting invited to go for free with Tarte were able to go.
The day after Jones’s video was posted, May 4, Tarte CEO Kelly also took to TikTok to share her thoughts on the situation. Kelly has over 190,000 followers and her video titled “clearing the air” has almost 2 million views.
“I wasn’t thinking what’s going on in the track; I was just thinking how can we get the most people to have this fabulous experience?” she said while doing her makeup. “Nothing was decided based on the follower count.”
Most of the top comments on Kelly’s video were unimpressed with her reaction — especially with the idea that she wasn’t really thinking about who could go to the race.
“‘I invited everyone to an F1 weekend wasn’t thinking about the actual race’ lol what,” one user wrote.
“How do you plan a trip around and for an event… and then say you didn’t plan the trip considering the event,” another added.
“Why would you invite someone to go to an F1 race and not see the actual race?” someone asked. “The whole weekend leads up to it.”
In a comment, Kelly explained that she didn’t realize that “the Sunday race was most important.”
“We split people up fairly and thought each day was great,” she wrote.
Other commenters interpreted Kelly’s video as misunderstanding Jones’s original statement about being a Black creator in the beauty space. This isn’t the first time Tarte has been under fire for diversity issues; in 2017, the brand faced backlash over posting a racist meme on its social media account and again in 2019 fans slammed its limited shade range for its Shape Tape foundation.
“I couldn’t imagine making someone feel sad or, you know, hurting someone’s feelings,” Kelly concluded in her video. “No hard feelings to anyone.”
On May 7, Jones reactivated her TikTok account to ask users to leave creators Anelle Tarke, Fannita Leggett and Niké Ojekunle alone. As of reporting, none of the three influencers Jones listed have videos up on their TikTok accounts talking about the Tarte trip.
“I do not condone any form of bullying,” she captioned the clip, which she said will only be up for 24 hours and does not have comments enabled. “The situation with Tarte has been resolved and all parties are glad to be moving forward.”
“There was miscommunication on both ends and I recognize my mistake in responding so quickly and publicly,” Jones said. “For my mental health, I’ll be taking a break from TikTok.”
Jones wasn’t the only creator to comment on the trip either. Influencer Shawtysin, whose real name is Cynthia Victor, also shared her experience on another recent Tarte Cosmetics trip, this one in the Turks and Caicos.
In it, she explained that while on the trip, she realized there were differences in the room sizes between the creators on the trip and she had one of the smaller accommodations.
“I feel some type of way,” she said after she saw other guests had bigger rooms. “I’m a brown minority creator in this influencer content creator TikTok era and a lot of the time I get the short end of the stick — whether it’s getting paid less for the same advertisement or not getting paid at all.”
In a second video, Shawtysin also claimed that she didn’t know about the “season two” wave of influencers who were joining the trip later in the week until she was already on the island. She alleged that she found out after that some of the creators who came at the same time as she did were asked to stay for the latter half of the week too.
“I hope people will understand it was never about the size of the room,” she continued. “It was just about getting treated equally to my counterparts.”
Brianna LaPaglia, another creator guest on the Turks and Caicos trip who is professionally known as “Brianna Chickenfry” from her podcast, defended Tarte in response to Shawtysin’s video. The TikTok has since been deleted.
“At the last Met Gala, do you expect Kim Kardashian and Addison Rae to get the same exact treatment? No, I’m not an idiot,” she said, according to Centennial World. “The people that are going to get more eyes on their videos, the people that have 11 million followers, are obviously going to get the crazy sick f****** room because they’re going to get way more views.”
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