A few people have asked about the big picture story and I realize, because it's strung together in many separate posts, that it might be hard to follow. So for those of you wanting the overview of my last three years, here goes. I was asked by a furniture industry friend to share my experiences within an industry group in September so I'm sharing what I wrote below for the group, below. It encapsulates the journey.
September 26, 2017
When Laurie first asked if I would share part of my story here, I said yes. Then I said no. Then I said yes, again. I feared (and still do) it would look like a woman scorned/sour grapes story but truly—despite feelings of hurt and loss of what I thought was real—it’s not why I finally decided to step up the plate. It’s about sharing a human story about something that seems to be an epidemic in the world, and in our industry. The industry where I sadly still hear stories of “Market Wives.”
A few months ago, I finally started speaking up about my experiences with my ex-love and ex-business partner. I thought long and hard about it but ultimately decided that I wouldn’t be silent about abuse I endured, no matter the threats or the damage it has done to my reputation and licensing deals I had in the works. It’s just not worth keeping quiet, in the grand scheme of things. It’s more important than my career—it is ultimately about loss on so many levels but most of all, soul loss. If I can prevent this from happening to someone else or connect with someone who has or is going through a similar situation by sharing my story, I will feel like I’ve done my part. And I’m standing up for three women who have reached out to me but are scared to talk openly about what they endured for fear of exactly what is happening now. Retaliation.
On the personal front, we fell in love at High Point Market in 2014—we were both married when we met. It led to a whirlwind romance and business partnership, which many of you witnessed on social media. The relationship looked like heaven to many but behind the scenes, I was unknowingly diving deeper and deeper—both professionally and personally—into an emotionally abusive relationship. It didn’t seem that way in the beginning, of course. We broke up multiple times when I would get the courage to stand up for myself, knowing what I was allowing wasn’t right.
I kept quiet for a long time. I didn’t want to expose that something could be terribly wrong because honestly, I didn’t want to believe it myself. And as usual, it’s a cycle. Bad times would be followed by good, and I clung to the good. I was caught in the cycle. I didn’t tell family or friends. I kept hoping to get back full-time to when he was loving and supportive versus the times when I was yelled at, shamed, and told I’m a “thick fucking brick.” When I started to speak out about the relationship, multiple women stepped forward sharing their past experiences with him. Other women who have never been in a relationship with him chose to cling to the social media façade he had built, and I understand that, too. No one could have told me any differently, when we met.
Publicly, he was moving on and women were praising him for his maturity. Privately, he was writing to the president of the university where I took a job to support an apartment we lived in here in Flagstaff. In addition to the President, he wrote to 50 other colleagues using his email address sharing the post I wrote on my personal blog where I explained exactly how we went down the rabbit hole together three years ago. They notified me immediately. He was also posting the same post under different aliases on Facebook on university-owned FB pages and threatening that he will never stop until he gets justice (against me) for sharing what I finally had the guts to talk about publicly.
I was advised by police, lawyers, and the University to gather everything—including a police report that documented a time when a maintenance staff member in the apartment complex called the cops because he could “hear a man yelling, and a woman crying” (as stated in the report) and head down to the local Justice Court to apply for a no-contact restraining order. When he was finally served the order, he denied his identity and threw the order on the ground. There are photos of the incident in the affidavit. It was clearly him. He then denied his identity again when Flagstaff Police called him and told him the order was in place.
On the professional front, we launched our joint venture—Mod Life Collection—in 2014, although the collection was made up of his designs and a designer named Ari Signes. Technically, it’s his line but we agreed to work the line of sofas and seating together first, and then concentrate on building up Mod Mom (my kids company I started in my garage in 2007). I did quite a bit of the PR, chimed in on fabrics and designs, worked Markets, and helped financially any way I could. Obviously, we are no longer partners. I highly doubt I will ever see, nor my parents will ever see, the financial investments we made in his furniture line. I found out he’s relaunching under the same name at High Point. Ex-Mod Life clients are trying to get their money back from him on products that never shipped and they were writing to me about it. One said they knew they would never be reimbursed and my story helped them understand this fully.
With all of this said, I’m not a victim. I made choices and mistakes, and I learned lessons. I failed to listen to my intuition and I don’t want others to fall into the same trap. I simply won’t be quiet about the reality of the situation, like so many before me for various reasons. I’ve written a lot about the signs I ignored and the specific abuse I endured on my personal blog. I hope that if any of you are in a similar situation, what I’ve written will help make it clear you’re not alone.
(Since I wrote this for the group, more women have come forward sharing their own experiences with his predatory ways. I found out he was cheating on me during our relationship, as well, and ex-Mod Life clients are coming out publicly supporting me and sharing their stories of loss and deceit. I've written about many parts of the story here on the blog. You can find specific topics like getting the restraining order, a few posts from my husband who has written what it was like for him to go through this, and flashbacks of specific instances of abuse, to name a few. I'm happy to say the silver lining in all of this is the story of true love between my husband and me. And it's a story I'll be writing much more about!)