Reese Witherspoon’s Southern-lifestyle brand Draper James got a PPP loan

Reese Witherspoon at arrivals for Apple...

Sometimes, a celebrity will show you who they really are and then they’ll quickly try to rebrand and act like no, they’ve changed and grown and now they’re a better person. Sometimes I buy it, sometimes I don’t. When I don’t buy someone’s rebrand or I find them fake as hell, I usually just think I’m all alone and everyone else is being fooled by someone’s newly sugary persona. I’m always shocked when people agree with me though! So it is with Reese Witherspoon. I’m not saying Reese is awful or anything (she’s not) or that she hasn’t done good work on and off the screen in the past seven years following her 2013 arrest. She has done a lot of good work. But there’s something so deeply fake about her shtick. I thought I was alone with that opinion, and I’ve just assumed that her post-arrest rebrand has been a massive success. But I’m starting to wonder!

Here are just some of things which have blown up in Reese’s face in recent months: she tried to do a Draper James free-dress giveaway to teachers and it ended in catastrophe, and teachers around the country now hate her. She got a massive payday from Quibi – a subscription service her husband helped form – while other staffers got laid off. And she was almost completely snubbed for Emmy Award nominations for THREE different projects just last week. Could it be that people are not buying Reese’s shtick? Anyway, here’s something else which probably won’t ingratiate her to many people: her Draper James line got a PPP loan.

Reese Witherspoon’s Draper James is draped in cash. The Oscar-winning actress’ clothing company received a PPP loan between $350,000 and $1 million, according to the online database. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Draper James employed 44 people. The influx of cash was approved on April 11, 2020, just as the company came under fire for a dress giveaway gone wrong.

A rep for Draper James didn’t immediately return Page Six Style’s request for comment.

The brand wanted to thank teachers for their tireless efforts during the pandemic and offered them a chance to win free dresses. Unfortunately, Draper James greatly underestimated how many teachers would be interested in the deal — one million entered — and couldn’t meet the demand, as it planned on giving away only 250 dresses. Instead, Draper James offered teachers discounts between 20 and 30 percent.

“Out of 535 teachers on a social media page on FB, not even one got a free @draperjames dress! What in the what??,” one person tweeted. “All of us received codes for either 20-30% off codes. Can’t even afford the dresses with a discount! Great marketing ploy!”

Page Six Style later exclusively reported that Witherspoon donated to nonprofit DonorsChoose to support teachers in three Southern cities following the Draper James flap.

[From Page Six]

I don’t think it’s wrong or weird for any business to apply for a PPP loan and the whole point of the PPP loan program was to inject money into the American economy quickly and help businesses survive the pandemic. I don’t know how many people Reese employs at Draper James, but I bet the money helped the business. Still, it all feels related – Reese getting that huge payday from Quibi while other people lost their jobs, the dresses-for-teachers fiasco, and now this: a bailout/loan for her Southern-lifestyle company.

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29 Responses to “Reese Witherspoon’s Southern-lifestyle brand Draper James got a PPP loan”

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  1. Ferdinand says:

    I mean, it’s just the way businesses work.
    She might have already invested at the beginning to get the company going.
    But she’s not always gonna put her own money or her investors’.

    So, any company can benefit from help from the government no matter how rich its CEO or people who run it are.

    • tealily says:

      Yeah, this. I’m not mad at any of these large companies for applying, I’m mad at the government for putting support for small businesses in the same category as these giant, well-funded companies. I have friends who run businesses or are they, themself, a business and are completely out of work yet didn’t receive a dime.

    • JayNay says:

      ok, so a quick google just told me that Reese Witherspoon is worth about $240 million. That’s a Forbes estimate from last year, so let’s say that’s gone down a bit with the stock market crash. That still leaves a lot of money left.
      it would have been completely reasonable for her to go “ok, I’m running this business and things are rough right now, let me use some of my considerable wealth to tide us over.” It’s super tacky to apply for government funding in a crisis when you’re that rich. Taxpayers don’t need to fund Reese’s side project.

      • MissMarierose says:

        There are a couple of restaurants near my house that didn’t get PPP loans, but the owners (who are not even close to Whiterspoon wealthy) dug into their own pockets to help their employees.
        That’s why it’s such a bad look for her to take that loan. She’s so rich she wouldn’t have to sacrifice a single gallon of gas in her fancy car to help her 40 employees.

  2. Jay (the Canadian one) says:

    If she got a loan she didn’t deserve, I’d put the blame on the loan programme and its approval criteria.

  3. Becks1 says:

    I don’t buy into her shtick either and I felt like I was the only one! I like how she promotes and champions women in the workplace but….I dunno. something about her feels very forced to me.

    I don’t know how I feel about the loan, because if they qualified they qualified, but we are seeing that the program was mismanaged and that lots of really small businesses without millionaire founders couldn’t get loans, so its just kind of a bad look, regardless of the legality.

  4. Louisa says:

    I don’t have an issue with the PPP loan. If it meant the company was able to keep people employed and paid then why shouldn’t they have got it. My tiny company also got a loan (much less than she did) and you have to show that the money is going to salaries and utilities.

  5. Callie says:

    I’m sorry but the PPP loans were meant for true small businesses and not celeb run vanity projects. As a small business owner, I am absolutely disgusted by every one of these large companies that took money that was meant to help us. I am watching too many of my friends closing their businesses after no help from the government and wondering when my business will be next. She should be ashamed of herself and I say that as someone who was a huge fan of hers. People need to wake up and realize that small businesses are the backbone of this country and without us, you’ll enjoy shopping at big box stores and eating at chain restaurants for the rest of your life.

    • Jules says:

      Thank you, agreed. People really need to wake TF up when the rich keep getting richer, even in this pandemic.

      • Callie says:

        Right? I seriously don’t understand how people are okay with this. Major companies that do not need this money applied and received this money, why are they not being held accountable??? I was told by experts to be sure that I am 100% accurate with everything I claim for this or there would be serious consequences and yet, I keep hearing about these companies who applied just so they could have more money. None of this is okay.

    • BraveLilToaster says:

      This. All day.

    • Allergy says:

      Completely agree with you.
      Also, during this weird time, if your income is tens of millions a year, you can afford to give some of your own money to your side business.
      Makes me think of Branson who whined for government help, from his private island.

  6. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    I’ll get reemed for this. BUT. I have always…’disliked’ her. Even her best work, Election, seemed to be written expressly for her lol. I’ve never trusted her. I’ve never been a fan. Maybe it’s her history. Her family’s history (the whole John Witherspoon thing). I’ve always gotten a huge self-important vibe from her which is a pet peeve of mine lol.

  7. Brubs says:

    I think it’s unfair to talk about the Quibi thing because it has nothing to do with her. They have spent billions with talent, every major celebrity has gotten a massive payday.
    I also don’t think her emmy snubs have to do with public perception of her “shtick”, I think is more likely about the characters that she plays (they are mostly unlikable). Either way she is a producer in all these shows so regardless of her acting getting a nomination the mere fact that all of them were nominated in big categories means that she has huge power in the industry

    • Lady Baden-Baden says:

      Agreed on both counts. I find the snubbed-for-Emmys narrative odd too. OK, no acting nominations but Little Fires Everywhere is nominated for Best Limited Series – as producer, that’s a nomination for her. Plus multiple nominations for the Morning Show and Big Little Lies – all from her production company. For anyone else it would be considered a banner year! I understand not particularly liking her, but she IS an important figure behind the scenes, most importantly for women, and she’s clearly worked her a** off for it.

  8. Noki says:

    I Am not in US/UK so maybe someone can explain why people are so mad when celebrities get these ppp/furlough assistance. Isnt every tax paying business viable? That is where some of your tax goes,should an occurence such as a pandemic hurt your bussiness. Why are celebs expected to dip into their own pockets,its business.

    • Allergy says:

      I think it’s unethical, this being a situation the world was not prepared for, to take the government money if you can survive without it. Because there are tons and tons of small businesses that can’t. It’s like hoarding drinking water when your well is still full.

    • tealily says:

      The money for these ran out almost immediately and many, many smaller businesses received nothing. The government didn’t offer enough support to go around and the bulk went to larger businesses that didn’t need it as badly.

  9. Busyann says:

    I like Reese. I do find her southerness very performative, but on the whole, she’s okay in my book.
    The PPP loan is what it is. They probably really needed the money for the business and it hopefully trickled down to her employees.
    And I never understood the big uproar over the dresses. Did they underestimate the interest? Sure. But I remember reading the giveaway and nothing was gauranteed. It was a giveaway that read like a lot of other instagram giveaways, unless I misunderstood something.

  10. Kristabel says:

    I only need to think back to the Weinstein fiasco and her husband’s position at an agency that seemed complicit in those abuses. Next thing you know, we had her “time’s up” movement. We already had “me too” which articulated everything people needed to know about these issues.

  11. meh says:

    Draper James is a small business. Her personal wealth has nothing to do with the structure of the business. She did not personally get a PPP loan, the company got it to keep paying workers. She doesn’t pay out of pocket, that’s not how investing in a business works, or the business would go under and she would go broke. Should she have paid for more free dresses out of pocket? Yes, I do think so because that was dumb. But her business was eligible for a loan, and it’s not a huge corporation, it is technically a small business. Be mad about all the huge multinational companies that got these loans. This is a non-story. It’s irrelevant if you like her personally or not, this was not illegal, immoral, or inappropriate.

    • Allergy says:

      It’s just that the virus has messed up a lot of things, it’s not like a normal recession, and I think we should really ask who really needs government help.

  12. Kristen says:

    Part of the criteria for the PPP loan turning into a grant is that most of it has to go to employee’s salaries. BUT, my guess would be that most of DJ’s employees are people who are essentially Reese’s friends, and people not really in need of continued support in the same way as essential workers and folks employed by businesses that had to temporarily shutter.

    • Kebbie says:

      Huh? I highly doubt her rich friends are designing Draper James products, working on the website, fulfilling orders, responding to customer service issues, running the store, etc. The people keeping that brand going are regular people.

      Whether she should be dipping into her own bank account to pay those regular people and keep her company running is another story entirely.

      • Kristen says:

        It says you have to use it for employee salary – not all employees or even which employees. Just because she has people doing those things doesn’t mean those are the people the money went to. The people doing the bulk of the work may be regular people, but the ones running her company are not.

  13. Kim says:

    The teacher dress giveaway wasn’t a big deal. I’m a teacher. I applied. I didn’t get one. I appreciated the thought and that she was highlighting the work of teachers during the pandemic. I will say they did not mention prior how many dresses they were giving away, and 250 for an announcement made to all the teachers of America seemed like a low number. The discount after the fact was funny. Teachers don’t buy dresses for $150-$200 just to crawl around on our knees on the floor and have kids wipe markers and glue on them.

  14. Callie says:

    The fact that some people are okay with companies that don’t need it taking it says it all; small business is doomed and no one cares. She shouldn’t use her own money to save her business? I really can’t believe I am reading this. Small business owners use their own money ALL THE TIME, that’s part of being a small business owner unfortunately and the fact that you think a millionaire shouldn’t use their own money during this time is disturbing. Just remember that you are okay with this when your favorite local coffee shop, florist, bakery, etc. is gone because they got zilch while millionaires got more.

    • MissMarierose says:

      Exactly right. Attitudes like theirs are the reason this country is in so much trouble.