Dude note: To help celebrate and promote Celiac Awareness Month, I will be writing 30 blog posts over 30 consecutive days (weekends excluded) with the theme “30 Days of Helping 30 Celiacs”. Each post will be aimed toward helping one specific person or group of people. If you or someone you know needs help, guidance, advice or a shoulder to cry on, please contact me and I will do what I can to help. On the 31st day, you’re on your own. Totally kidding.
Today’s 30 for 30 blog post is for: Jules Shepard…aka Jules Gluten Free.
I had the pleasure and the privilege of hanging with our very own Jules Gluten Free last weekend at the Orlando Gluten Free Living conference. I had spoken to her on the phone a few times and did a couiple of her radio shows, but had never had the opportunity to meet her in person. I was not disappointed. She was totally cool.
Jules is in a world of hurt right now with her business and since she is a rock star in our community, I offered my platform to help tell her story.
So here’s basically what went down…
Jules founded her company Nearly Normal Cooking, LLC after her first book was published in 2006. She taught herself everything there was to know about being a gluten-free food manufacturer and finally released some gluten-free products in 2007.
In 2008, to help with the demands of the business, she brought on some partners to help run the day-to-day business. These businessmen did not invest cash, but instead exchanged their work for half of her company.
Recently, it became evident that their visions for the company’s future and how to interact with her customers were very different. The relationship with her partners eventually became hurtful and contentious, with her partners eventually no longer paying Jules for her work, locking her out of their communications program, preventing her from sending out her weekly recipe e-newsletter, denying her administrative access to her blog, and cancelling flour orders Jules had placed to make her wedding cake next month, among other things.
Yeah…real nice people. What is it about money and power that can turn people into complete jackasses?
Anyway, Jules finally resigned from any role she had in the company and formally rescinded any license her business partners may have had to use her name, likeness or image.
Her partners’ response? Silence. They completely ignored her.
After a week of waiting for them to comply with her license revocation, and seeing that they had no intention of doing so, Jules emailed most of her newsletter subscribers (she didn’t have access to the entire list, nor did she have access to their buyer list), with a short video explaining that she had resigned from Jules Gluten Free because of a business dispute, and that she was no longer overseeing or affiliated with those products.
Within the day, her partners had sent an email to the entire customer list from JulesGlutenFree.com, shockingly saying that Jules didn’t have the right to send an email to HER follower list, and that they were investigating whether credit card numbers had been compromised by her actions. Mind you…she had NO ACCESS to the credit card numbers. Zero.
No seriously…this really happened.
The situation Jules is at this point is quite difficult. She wants to help bring her products back as quickly as humanly possible, but starting a new company while embroiled in expensive litigation over their use of her personal intellectual property, will be quite the feat.
Jules has started a new company called gfJules, and been negotiating contracts for production and shipping, securing certifications, developing new logos and labels and creating a temporary website. In this industry, ingredients, blending and packaging have to be paid before the sales even come in, so she needs tens of thousands of dollars to make all this happen right away.
Here’s a direct quote from Jules: “I cannot wait to run a company for the right reasons, without the shackles of business partners who do not understand our community.”
So there you have it in a nutshell. After starting and running her own business with her own blood, sweat and tears, she now has to go court and spend tens of thousands of dollars simply to try to sell the products that SHE CREATED using HER NAME and HER FACE.
What can you do to help? Good question.
Number one: Stop buying products from julesglutenfree.com. It is no longer her company even though they are doing everything in their power to make it look like it still is.
Number two: Unsubscribe from the julesglutenfree.com mailing list.
Number three: Head over to gfJules.com and sign up for her email list. This way, you can be notified when the real Jules is back in business.
Number four: Support her in any way you can. She is spending an obscene amount of money in lawyer bills and is no longer getting paid by her old company, even though they are still selling her product. She is offering a variety of ways you can support her. Please, please check it out here and do what you can. I have already made a generous donation and I am hopeful you can do the same.
I thank you and Jules thanks you.
(1 down…29 to go :) )