Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 


There are quite a few CEOs who insist that employees use the company's product.

It seems, though, that there is one CEO who would prefer it if certain employees would steer clear of showing off their company's wares.

Which might, to some, seem quite odd.

Jessica Issler is the owner and CEO of Dainty Hooligan. The levels of daintiness and hooliganity that live inside this brand you must decide for yourself.

I can only tell you about Sherene Marie Zarrabi. She works at Dainty Hooligan in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Or rather, did.

You see, she caught sight of an email written to her store manager by Issler. She seemed to be upset that some employees were posting pictures of themselves wearing Dainty Hooligan clothing on the store's Instagram account.

Issler was not delighted with this initiative.

She wrote: "Hello, Something I want to make sure you keep in mind: I want size small, the stereotypical 'model' type to model our clothes. Please use our pictures of our models if Stillwater store can't find someone who would be considered 'model material'. This is not to put anyone down but to communicate the expectations of presenting our brand."

I feel sure you're already grasping the subtext. Issler didn't want to put anyone down, but Zarrabi isn't "small."

Issler, however, continued in her email: "Don't take it personal, all I ask for is really good representation. In exchange for the freedom, I ask you to take down all the pictures of anyone that doesn't fit the criteria."

You might decide that there's a certain ignorance that runs through both the sentiment of this email, as well as through the grammar.

You might also decide that Zarrabi did the right thing by quitting.

She wrote on Facebook: "I do not want to respresent (sic) or support a business that has such archaic values and beliefs. THIS is the reason young girls have body image issues. This is disgusting. I quit immediately and I suggest that my friends and family do not support Dainty Hooligan. Love yourself, no matter what you look like."

For all the world, this looked like a PR snafu for the tiny hooligans.

But, please don't worry, Issler was there to handle it.

She told The O'Colly, Oklahoma State University's newspaper (Zarrabi is a student there): "My No. 1 priority is the safety of my staff, so the evil and lack of positivity is terrifying. This girl has now created a hostile work environment because she has a sad body image of herself."

Now there's dainty management for you.

Issler didn't stop there. Speaking of Zarrabi, she added: "She's not mentally healthy."

It takes a certain level of vision to offer such a comment. A level that some might describe as extreme myopia.

According to her dainty website, Issler has a psychology degree. And you assumed she had an MBA, didn't you?

While Zarrabi was appearing in the local media emphasizing that "you don't have to be a certain size to be beautiful," Issler was upsizing her daintiness by the word.

It took another day before she was quoted by The O'Colly as saying: "I can definitely see where feelings got hurt and negativity from there festered from something I take full responsibility for."

She added that this was "a very humbling experience."

Or was it merely a very bumbling experience?

Of course being in the fashion business means that you're heavily influenced by the houses of high fashion that so regularly peddle models with bodies like broomsticks.

But even so, did Issler not have the basic ingenuity to use her employees' initiatives for good?

The true value in a company stems from its employees. 

If you don't have the staff committed to expressing a brand vision, you'll end up with dilution and a lack of energy.

Zarrabi says there was no rule that she knew of concerning staff wearing the clothes or showing them off.

Fashion brands like Smart Glamour are taking advantage of the fact that attitudes toward body-type are changing.

And it's not as if Dainty Hooligan doesn't sell clothes in size Large. Issler simply doesn't want to advertise the fact, apparently.

Now, perhaps, she has.

Now the women of Stillwater, Oklahoma (and the cities where Dainty Hooligan's others stores are located) may decide whether the brand can be theirs anymore.

Some might be hoping that Stillwater runs deep.