Yesterday while I was procrastinating hard during the writing of a final paper due for my class, I took some time to read this truly remarkable article about Lisa Frank, the mysterious woman responsible for baroque levels of shiny, fuzzy, neon cuteness seen splashed across folders and trapper-keepers throughout my 90s childhood.
As I pored through the article and its many salacious details and then took a deep dive into the comments, I entirely lost any will I had to finish my paper and so I write this post as a sort of guilty token and offering to the writing gods.
The article is truly epic in scale and takes you from Lisa Frank’s frilly but lonely-seeming childhood through her career as an enterprising businesswoman with a booming empire and all the way to the excruciating downfall ushered in by her bizarro tyrant asshole of a husband and his VP/mistress (though Lisa Frank is no business genius herself, nor is she a nice lady). It states plainly how horrifying and abusive management practices and personalities led to a nightmarish work environment that left hundreds of people emotionally scarred for having worked there.
Tales of horrible workplaces really fascinate me because naturally, I’ve worked at horrible places. Also since Lisa Frank is a design shop basically, I was especially taken in by this story being a design foot soldier myself. To work in NYC is to have a high likelihood of working at a place with rather bad working conditions and/or with freakshow, narcissist bosses. I was schadenfreudily very glad to see that a particularly dreadful place that I worked (my first real NYC design job!) had gotten some frank reviews on glassdoor.com from ex-employees describing the creative director as a micromanaging and highly toxic individual and complaining of over-long working hours. All allegations that I can completely corroborate as true! Running a business is kind of like running a weird kind of family. Most people in general aren’t fit to be great parents and would end up psychologically damaging their children because they don’t know how to meet their needs/are really selfish and rude/have unresolved issues and most people in general aren’t fit to run a business either.
It was truly a bummer to hear that such a beloved American company was such a pile of shit that caused so much misery to so many people. Even more of a bummer to see that Lisa Frank and her husband James Green seemed to have learned next to nothing from the entire ugly experience. At least there were the dolphins………….