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Man Repeller is shutting down months after its founder took a ‘step back’ following criticism over lack of diversity

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Man Repeller, which was recently renamed Repeller, is shutting down, Business of Fashion’s Alexandra Mondalek reported Thursday.

The fashion publication’s founder Leandra Medine Cohen confirmed the reports in a statement to The Cut.

“I am confirming that Repeller, formerly Man Repeller, is ending operations and offering employees severance pay,” Medine Cohen told the publication. “The company has been self-funded by its operations since its launch ten years ago as a personal blog but due to financial constraints, we are no longer able to sustain the business.”

Medine Cohen delivered the news to employees in a Zoom meeting on Monday, according to BoF, while employees were told that they would be informed about severance pay on Friday.

Repeller’s closure comes after months of turbulence, including criticism of Leandra Medine Cohen and the publication’s lack of inclusivity

In June, Medine Cohen said she would take a “step back” at the company following criticism in response to two open letters she had published on the site addressing racial-justice issues and inclusivity.

Medine Cohen published her first open letter on the site on June 1, expressing allyship in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests and outlining the publication’s plans to hire more diverse talent and publish inclusive coverage.

Commenters found the letter to be tone deaf and questioned the company’s lack of diversity, alleging that it had let go of a number of people of color on staff.

A commenter named Sabrina, who Insider confirmed is Sabrina Santiago, a former photographer and photo editor at Repeller, also criticized the Repeller founder’s letter and had an exchange with her in the comments. Santiago told Insider she hasn’t been with the company since April, and could not comment further.

“As a former POC employee that was let go during COVID-19, this ‘apology’ is a slap in the face and honestly disgraceful,” Sabrina wrote. “I have not been reached out to in any capacity. I hope everyone sees that this is another performative attempt to cover racist actions.”

Medine Cohen responded to Sabrina saying she had “reached out to you personally in hopes that you will be willing to continue the conversation.”

Sabrina replied: “To clarify, you reached out *moments* after this comment was posted.”

On June 4, Repeller’s founder published a second letter apologizing and laying out the company’s plans for the future.

“The letter I published on Monday provided an insufficient explanation for how I plan to change the way Man Repeller operates, but I did not adequately address the way that it already has operated,” she wrote. “I did not yet have a true understanding of the pain that has been caused, which has held me and therefore this company back from living up to its promised expectation to help women to feel less alone and more understood.”

Then, on June 10, Medine Cohen, announced on Instagram she was taking a “step back” from her role.

“Man Repeller was founded to celebrate self expression in all of its forms but it has become clear that I’ve failed to deliver on this mission,” she wrote. “The team deserves a chance to show you what Man Repeller can be with me on the sidelines so I’m going to step back and let them show you.”

“You were right — even though I’ve been able to write so intimately about every other experience of my life over the past decade, I’ve failed short here,” she added. “That’s because this is more than just an exploration of my feelings. It’s my ignorance. Ignorance is part of the problem. Separately, Man Repeller and I will be part of the solution. Much more to come.”

Before the site rebranded, Medine Cohen told reporters in June that the company had ‘a lot of work to do to build a better, more inclusive culture’

Medine Cohen told Vox in an email that the company had “a lot of work to do to build a better, more inclusive culture,” and that it had “been taking the feedback from our current and former employees very seriously.”

The publication rebranded with its new name and a fresh look to its website in September.

An article by the Repeller team at the time said the updates were part of “larger changes we’ve been working toward this year both internally and externally — a transformation that extends beyond the surface level of what Repeller simply looks like and actually reimagines what it is.

Representatives for Repeller and Medine Cohen did not respond immediately to Insider’s request for comment.

Read the original report on Business of Fashion

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