Popular wedding dress designer Hayley Paige announced to her fans on Monday that she can no longer use her own name, which is also the name of her fashion line, in any business endeavors or even speak it out loud due to a temporary restraining order from its parent company, JLM Couture.
The designer, whose legal last name is Gutman, says she has also lost access to her @misshayleypaige Instagram account, which has more than 1 million followers. She warned fans that while the account is still posting, she is no longer behind it.
“I am mortified and devastated, but I wanted to tell you that I am no longer posting or engaging on that account until this matter is resolved in court,” she said in a video on a second account, @allthatglittersonthegram.
Last week, JLM Couture sued the designer for breach of contract, among other things, in a New York federal court. The company’s main gripe is over the @misshayleypaige account, which JLM asserts it owns and has the right to operate as it sees fit. It also filed a temporary restraining order banning Gutman from using her name or her social media accounts, which a judge granted.
In the complaint, JLM accused Gutman of “hijacking” the Instagram account, which she claimed was her own personal account, after contract negotiations broke down between the two parties in November.
A company spokesperson did not return a request for comment on the video or the lawsuit. However, in a statement to the New York Post, the company said that while negotiating a new contract, “the two sides disagreed over how much freedom Hayley would have to promote her non-related side businesses on the company site.”
JLM added, “After Hayley stopped posting JLM content and deprived the company access to the account, we brought the matter before the court. After carefully listening to both sides, a judge granted us the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO). We respect the judge’s decision that JLM should have temporary control over the company site and feel the process was fair and equitable.”
JLM asserted in the complaint that per the initial contract Gutman signed in 2011, it owns the right to her name, any derivatives of her name, and all designs. This extends, it said, to any social media account bearing her name. The company also said its marketing team helped the Instagram account become so big and attributed much of Gutman’s line’s success to the company. The complaint states that the line grew in popularity in large part due to the company’s “marketing campaigns” and the quality of its clothing in addition to Gutman herself.
Gutman told her followers on Instagram that she signed the initial contract with JLM Couture when she was 25, new to the industry, and naive. She also said she did not have a lawyer look over the contract.
“If anyone tells you that you don’t need to have a lawyer look at an agreement or contract, please get a lawyer, if that is the only thing you take away from this video,” she said.
While discussing renewing her contract this year, Gutman said she felt bullied and manipulated by the company and its CEO, Joseph L. Murphy, in her effort to get one that was less “one-sided.” A source close to Gutman told BuzzFeed News that she had long felt that the company had been overbearing and controlling.
“I do not wish to subscribe to their business ethics or the way they treat employees and others,” Gutman said in her video, adding that she no longer wants to align her brand with JLM Couture.
In its statement to the New York Post, JLM said, “Joe continues to hold Hayley in high regard and hopes to resolve their differences.”
One of the main issues between the company and Gutman, according to the complaint, is her use of her name on social media. The company states that Gutman began using her name on TikTok in 2019, posting videos that it claims “did not properly represent” her brand. Since then, Gutman and JLM have been locked in a battle over the Instagram account, which she asserts is her personal account.
In her video, Gutman claims she has used the account as a hybrid since she started it, mixing her personal and professional lives as a wedding dress designer.
“[My Instagram] has been an expression of my whole life,” she said.
Gutman accused JLM of taking a platform she built organically through relationships with her followers and turning it into “purely a business opportunity.”
According to JLM Couture, the account “belongs to JLM, it was never Gutman’s account.” After months of fighting over the account and other issues, JLM sued Gutman and was granted a restraining order to temporarily ban her from using her name or accessing any of the Hayley Paige social media accounts. According to the source, Gutman’s attorneys believe this order means she cannot use her name on the @allthatglittersonthegram account or possibly even speak it in public.
Soon after the video went up on Instagram, women on social media began to express their support for Gutman.
In her video, Gutman asked her fans to share it with others so they could know what was going on. She also promised to share more about her future plans.
“I love being a wedding dress designer, and I feel like I was put on this earth to do this,” she said. “And I do not feel that that love should come at the expense of certain things. And I will not be bullied.”