A Bay Area media marketing specialist is leading a campaign to boycott department stores that sell Ivanka Trump's clothing line — an effort she said was inspired after vulgar tapes about her father groping women surfaced earlier this month.
And as of Tuesday, Shannon Coulter, CEO of DoubleKnown Marketing and Communications, said 21 stores, including big names such as Nordstrom's, Macy's, Marshall's, and Amazon, were on her #GrabYourWallet boycott list.
"I want to be able to shop with a clear conscience," she told NBC Bay Area in a simultaneous Facebook Live and Skype interview from her office.
Coulter said she is targeting Ivanka Trump, who designs a $100-million empire of clothes, shoes and handbags, because she called her Donald Trump's "official surrogate." Ivanka Trump has since called her father's comments on the leaked tapes "inappropriate and offensive."And at a Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit, Ivanka Trump said she is not a "campaign surrogate" for her father, but rather a presidential candidate's daughter, noted by Fast Company.
But Ivanka Trump has not distanced herself, in Coulter's eyes, far enough away from the man who was heard boasting about grabbing women by their "p----" on a 2005 Access Hollywood tape leaked to the Washington Post earlier this month.
She said her grassroots, Twitter-born campaign was "sparked" on Oct. 11 after the release of those tapes. And ever since, she's received about a dozen "nasty" emails from Trump supporters who are espousing "hatred" toward her, which is why she prefers not to state exactly where she lives and works in the Bay Area. She also insists that she didn't start this campaign as a marketing gimmick for her boutique firm. In fact, she said that she is declining all clients now because she is busy.
During her Facebook Live interview on Tuesday, Coulter also received some criticism from viewers commenting on her effort. One woman called Coulter "pathetic." Anoter commenter wondered if she was a "paid shill" of the Democratic National Committee. (She said she is not.) Cindy Cooper Juarez wrote "this woman is ridiculous. I think a visit to a good shrink is in order for her then going shopping anyway."
Coulter said she came up for the boycott idea as she was reminded of a "bad memory" when the Trump tapes surfaced, where he brags about kissing and groping women as an untouchable celebrity.
She detailed those memories in a Friday story in the Guardian — the first publication to highlight her boycott — in which she said she was felt up by a supervisor at a Silicon Valley company. "He pressed himself right up against me and said, 'Why is it you always look so good?'" Coulter told the Guardian.
At the time the article was published four days ago, more than a million people have viewed her posts and Coulter was receiving an average of 200 direct replies on Twitter per day and hundreds of retweets. Coulter estimated that more than 50,000 respondents have expressed support for her campaign and at least 2,000 have said they will participate. And many of those behind her are men, Coulter said, which is "especially great." A man with the Twitter handle @Mikealbeland wrote "Keep up the pressure. Bigotry is bad for business, Nordstrom. Not a penny from me!"
In terms of public support, Coulter is pleased.
"I give this a 9," Coulter answered when asked to rate her boycott campaign. "If one store drops out, I'll rate it a 10."
But in terms of her actual boycott, there isn't one store that has taken Coulter up on her call to drop the Ivanka Trump line, even though Macy's dropped Donald Trump products in 2015 after he called Mexicans rapists.
So, in terms of an actual effect, Coulter acknowledged, "the campaign isn't working."
Colter updates her boycott list regularly on a Google docs spreadsheet that she is alerted to by fans, and then which she verifies personally. She follows up with a phone call to each company's customer service department. She said the low-level representatives have all been "nice" and responsive. But she said she has yet to hear directly from an executive at any of the stores she's called out.
The Guardian asked the retailers on the list and Ivanka Trump to comment on the #GrabYourWallet boycott campaign. Zappos.com, Amazon, Bloomingdale’s and Neiman Marcus told the news agency they would decline to comment. Nordstrom answered, but the answer wasn't satisfying to Coulter or her supporters. “We have heard from some customers about this. We don’t currently have any plans to stop offering this collection,” the department said in a statement obtained by the Guardian.
Ivanka Trump’s chief brand manager Abigail Klem did not immediately respond to NBC Bay Area's request for comment on Tuesday. But she did give the Guardian a generic statement after being asked about the boycott: “We are proud that our business is growing rapidly and that our brand resonates strongly with women who are inspired by our messaging and excited about the polished and chic solution-oriented products that we offer.”
While the boycott of stores — especially Amazon— was at first difficult for Coulter, the campaign has now emboldened her to shop consignment, look for local stores and buy directly from companies themselves, instead of heading into a department store for her purchases. She said she also has been shopping at Target and J.Crew, two stores that don't sell the Ivanka Trump line.
"The silver lining," Coulter said "is that there is a ton of Trump-free shopping out there."