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The Kyte Baby Controversy-Maren’s Thought Provoking Perspective

January 23, 2024

Alright. You know me. I never shy away from a controversial topic, but I think it’s super important to not just share one’s random opinion on anything that’s a hot button topic, but rather create something that is educational and what people can learn from.

Kyte Baby Under the Microscope

And today’s topic, if you haven’t heard, is all about the drama that is going on with Kyte Baby. If you don’t know what Kyte Baby is, it is a children’s brand of clothing. It is made out of bamboo, cotton. It is super soft. They do everything from newborns to, you know, kids who are 8, 9. They even do adults. They do sleepwear. They do activewear, all of the things.

The amount of Kyte Baby we have in our home is borderline obnoxious. Both for my daughter and myself. But they are sparking some controversy because it has gone viral on Tik Tok as only TikTok can, where an employee, Marissa Hughes, who was battling infertility for three years… she adopted a baby.

Overview of the controversy involving a Kite Baby employee and her request to work remotely due to her premature baby’s hospitalization

She and her husband adopted a baby, and then this baby was born early and had to go into the NICU. So the baby was born at 22 weeks, obviously, critical condition. And, you know, I want to preface all the things that I’m gonna talk about by saying that when you listen to both sides of this story and you kinda obviously, there’s gonna be emotions attached to it.

But also, I want you to kind of remove some of the emotion a little bit and look at it from a business perspective, because I think that that’s important. If we are just relying solely on emotion and not thinking critically and not thinking like always thinking with our hearts and not with our heads, we can get lost in life.

I think it’s important to think with both. So when this employee who, by the way, this is this is important, who had been working for the company for nine months, she informed the owner and CEO, Ying, that she, you know, wasn’t gonna be able to come into work and that, you know, but I wanna, you know, still work and represent the company.

I wanna work remotely, but this baby is most likely not going to be coming home with us until March, and rightfully so, she didn’t wanna leave the child.

Right? And she was working at the hospital and then where the baby was born and where her job site was nine hours away. So she said, hey, as you know, according to her, I can work remotely with the exception of being on shoots.

Okay. So the CEO as well as two senior employees at the company, absorb this news and they say, okay. Despite the fact that you haven’t been here for a year, and this that’s why I said it’s important. She’s been there nine months, and she is not an independent contractor.

She was an independent contractor, this whole story would be moot, but she is not an independent contractor. She worked directly for the company. Because you have only been here nine months, she is not entitled to the Regal FMLA.

Employer Handbook Outlines FMLA Leave Regulations

And it’s funny because, you know, I’m gonna get into this. Like, you have all these people raging on social media who, quite frankly, don’t have any idea of what that law actually entitles you to. Right? They’re literally ranting and raving on social media based on emotion and have no idea what this federal law is.

So FMLA, which stands for Family and Medical Leave Act. That requires employers to grant unpaid leave of absence to qualified workers for certain medical and family related reasons.

Now, I’m gonna break this down for you. And I’m literally, literally holding my employee handbook, in my hands as I’m reading this to you. Because the club that I work for, albeit it’s not a massive corporation like Google or, even, you know, Kyte Baby. Kyte Baby employs thousands and thousands of employees, but we still have about close to 800 employees.

It is a massive club, and so they have this whole employee handbook put together, and I’m reading it word for word for you. So the law requires employers to grant unpaid leave of absence to qualified workers for certain medical and family related reasons.

The FMLA entitles Eligible Employees up to 12 Weeks of unpaid, Job Protected Leave for in any 12 month period for certain family and medical reasons. The 12 month period is a rolling period measured backward from the date an employee uses any FMLA leave, except for leaves to care for a covered service member with a serious illness or injury.

For those leaves, entitlement is 20 so for those leaves of serious, a covered service member, those leaves entitlement is 26 weeks in a single month period measured forward from the date an employee first takes that type of leave. K. Ready?

The FMLA provides eligible employees with unpaid leaves of absence for the following reasons,

  • for the birth and care of the newborn child of the employee,
  • for a placement of a child for adoption or foster care,
  • to care for an immediate family member, spouse, child, or
  • a parent with a serious health condition to take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition.

So right away, had this employee worked there for a year, she would have checked that box, right, because this is an adopted child. It’s still her child. Right? And it’s to care for an immediate family member who’s in a serious health condition.

So it’s not an issue because this is what I kept seeing come up on social media because, supposedly, according to this employee’s family member on TikTok, I’m not here to call people liars, but I’m just saying I wasn’t on this phone call nor were you. K.

[00:08:08]:

So take that for what it is, that supposedly, there was a backhanded comment from the CEO that she was kinda shocked that the mom needed that much leave given that she didn’t physically birth the child.

Now maybe she said it, maybe she didn’t, maybe it was taken out of context. There’s a lot of emotions involved. Lord only knows. At the end of the day, in hindsight, something to that effect must have been said because the CEO slash owner, Ying, has addressed that comment to a certain extent.

But regardless, this employee is not entitled to that Federal law, that policy. It is just that she’s not. She didn’t work there for 12 months.

And whether she likes it or not, it is up to the discretion of the company, which is privately owned, for them to make whatever decision they make. And so they offered her two weeks’ leave. Then they went back. They revisited that, and then they rescinded that.

Why did they rescind it? Your guess is as good as mine. My guess, my personal this is not known, but my guess would be the fact of the matter is so this role this employee’s role was she was a studio coordinator.

So she was the point of contact for the models, but she was also on-site for the photoshoots. And while, yes, some of the work she did and she did offer to do work remotely and with the exception of being on shoot, which if you know anything about Kyte Baby or just fashion in general, like, photoshoots aren’t something that are quarterly, right, especially a company like Kyte Baby.

Kyte Baby is constantly, constantly doing photoshoots because they have new styles coming out all the time. Like, literally, I swear. It’s like every other week. Finally, I had to pull back, and I was like, alright. Enough is enough.

Like, how many baby clothes do you need, Maren? But it’s true. They are constantly, to meet the needs of their buyers, coming out with these new patterns. So I want you to imagine, let’s just use me as an example.

I’m a golf professional by trade. Right? And, yes, there are times where I send out emails. I set up tournaments on the computer using computer software. I’m, you know, coordinating with members about their lessons via text.

But at the end of the day, I still need to be on-site to run the physical tournament every week. I still need to physically be there to teach my students. I’m not teaching them remotely through a video camera. And if that is part of your job description that you need to be on-site, you essentially have a couple options.

So one is, obviously, they terminate the employee and hire someone else that can do the job to the fullest. I’m just keeping it real with you. Two, now you have to pay someone else to come in and be on-site, which by the way, if they’re on-site, it’s kind of awkward if they’re on-site and they haven’t had all of the point of contact with the models and they’re meeting them for the first time.

Like, the emotional people on TikTok aren’t thinking about that. Can you imagine if I was teaching you golf, but you like, you never contacted me? You never really met me or you met me through, you know, a video camera. It’s weird.

[00:12:44]:

I just, you know, I just randomly showed up, but you were talking to someone else the whole time, you know, someone else at my job who you were seeing face to face. Like, you need if you are the point of contact for the models, then guess what? You should be there to make them feel comfortable once they are on-site.

Balancing Employee Needs and Company Operations

Now with that being said, if I’m the CEO, why on earth, financially, why would I pay an employee who’s working remotely when I have to pay someone else to do the same job. Why am I, like, I’m not trying to be mean, but it’s the facts. Like, why? Because you have a crummy situation? Yeah. Like, that sucks.

It sucks, which is why they offered her two weeks. But, ultimately, for the company to move forward and for things to run smoothly, at the end of the day, they needed to hire someone else.

Okay? And whether this employee likes it or not, Kyte Baby is a private company. And I’m gonna give you another example. As I’ve talked about numerous times, at my previous employer, they had certain rules when it came to medical decisions that they wanted their employees to comply with if they wanted to stay employed at that club.

Personally, those were decisions that I did not feel comfortable with for my own health and the health of my unborn child. So the decision was made for me, essentially, either comply with what they said or find a new job.

Doesn’t mean I liked the decision, but ultimately, it’s a privately owned country club.
They have the right to make those decisions, just like Kyte Baby has the right to make the decision about who they’re hiring.

Now this is where it gets a little muddled because the CEO, the owner, Ying, she obviously has to address this. Everyone on TikTok so the family went viral with this. Right? Like, just trashing Ying, trashing the company, trashing what happened.

Obviously, very high emotions, and I can’t even imagine what the family is going through because I have friends that have had children… I have a friend right now whose child is in and out and but steadily in the NICU for almost seven months now. Another friend from college, her son, was in the NICU for over 100 days.

I also have a friend whose child wasn’t in the NICU, but was in a cancer treatment house for children for literally almost a year. K? So I can’t imagine what those families are going through because I’ve never gone through it.

But I do understand that it’s obviously very difficult. But at the end of the day, you have to do what’s best for your family, and there are times where the company has to do what’s best for the company.

Ying Liu, CEO of Kyte Baby: Her background and the Rise of a Successful Family-Oriented Company

So people are up in arms about Kyte Baby, as they should, and I don’t disagree with them, they turned off all the comments. Why? Because you have all these people commenting who don’t have the full story. No one even has the full story. I don’t have the full story.

Right? And they’re commenting not based on facts, but feelings. And they’re going after Kyte Baby. I thought this was a family oriented company. Listen. Kyte Baby is a family oriented company. Yang, the owner, created the company years ago because she discovered her eldest child. I think she has 4 children.

But her daughter, her oldest child, has severe eczema, And she realized that bamboo was great for her skin. It didn’t irritate her skin, and that’s literally how Kyte Baby was born.

And what’s driving me nuts is you have these obnoxious social sellers out there and influencers who are trying to capitalize off of two sets of people’s pain. The mother who right now has a child in the NICU, as well as a CEO who has worked her, you know what, off, to build this brand.

And now is at the mercy of some freaking TikTok influencers who think that they have more clout than they do. I do not believe in cancel culture.

I have spoken about that ad nauseam. I believe that it is very foolish to throw stones when every single one of us lives in a glass house.

[00:18:31]:

We are human and we all make mistakes. I am not discrediting the fact that they might have been a little shortsighted on the amount of time they gave her, like, two weeks to try to, like, figure out your life and your income is rough, but I also support them in their decision that they have every right to find someone else to replace her.

They shouldn’t have just created some kind of random job and then also had to bring someone else in and pay them to do the job that she was hired to do. They have every right to do that. I see both sides of it.

But when you have influencers out there who are taking this hot button topic, and rather than using examples like I am, like, I can personally relate to this story, not necessarily because I have a child that has been in the NICU, but because I have been faced with a difficult decision where my values for my family and what I needed to do didn’t match my employers.

And as difficult as it may be, at the end of the day, I had to make a difficult decision, and I did.

Just like this mom is gonna have to make a difficult decision. But yet these influencers are on there, and they’re like, not using Kyte Baby anymore. Tell me which ones to use, like, in creating you know, using certain sounds and music, right, to create like literally to take a hashtag and put their brand on it so that they gain engagement, that they’re part of the talk, whatever, and I can’t stand that. I can’t stand that.

I also think it’s funny for all of these keyboard warriors to be throwing all of these rocks and stones at the CEO and getting pissed off because she’s turned off comments on the posting, but yet they feel that they can say anything.

Maren Defends Ying’s Public Apology

So where they’re really attacking her now is when she came out and she gave a public statement and a public apology, but it wasn’t good enough. It wasn’t good enough for people because they feel like it wasn’t genuine. And to that, I say, of course she’s gonna have a script.

Of course. This could very well turn into a legal matter, if it hasn’t already. K? And she needs to protect her ass. So, of course, she’s going to make sure that she’s saying certain things and not saying others.

I mean, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand that. But let’s also talk about the fact that Ying, if you follow her lives and all of that, like, you would know she’s not someone that is super comfortable on camera.

And to be real with you, so much of social media is a farce, like people you think are very engaging and outgoing on social, and then they’re truly really introverted and kinda weird because social media is fake. For me to hop on here and talk with you, this is who I am.

I wouldn’t be in the business that I am in and be successful at it if I wasn’t. Because every day, I’m selling something. I’m either promoting the products I believe in on social media. I’m promoting myself as a coach and business mentor. I’m promoting myself as a golf professional to my students. I, you know, I have a microphone in my hand every week announcing tournament results.

I run, you know, three hours of clinics where I’m just talking and talking, right, and engaging with my students. Not everyone has the gift of gab.

Applauding Ying’s Rise To Success With Kyte Baby, A Family-Oriented Business

Not everyone can riff, but yet we’re throwing shade at Ying because she read off a script or memorized a script? Not only that, are you all forgetting that English isn’t her first language. She was born and raised in China. K. So right away, I just think that that is you know, it’s so funny.

So many of the people who wanna throw shade, they’d be all up in arms, like, if the shoe were on the other foot and, like, you know, trust me. Like, these people talk out of both sides of their mouth, and it drives me absolutely nuts. And then you have them saying, I thought this was family oriented. It is very much.

I told you about Ying’s daughter and why are we forgetting? Because of this one incident, we’re forgetting about the 1,000 and thousands of families that Kyte Baby has positively influenced over the years.

Their pajamas are specifically designed for two things.

1 – like I mentioned, children with skin issues because of the softness.
2 – they are designed for children who are in the NICU. That’s what they’re designed for.

In fact, my girlfriend that I told you about whose son has been in the NICU for almost seven months, she has the sleep sacks in her cart to purchase for the clearance sale today because they’ve changed the lives of these families. This company has changed lives for families.

But yet, one incident where she might have made, you know, made an off color comment, whatever, and now she’s supposed to like bend down and, like, kiss this person’s feet, and we’re all, like, trying to cancel her.

And speaking of canceling, so this family set up a GoFundMe page, which they have every right to do. Here’s my issue. There are other bamboo companies who are lesser known, that are contributing to this GoFundMe page in support of the mom.

Why? I’m not trying to be mean, but…

the fact of the matter is you and I both know they’re doing it for clout so that when they can say that they supported this employee so that why, when you have a quote unquote choice and you’re canceling Kyte Baby, who are you gonna turn to? And that’s ugly, and that’s gross.

And that is just very unethical behavior, in my opinion. Not really in my opinion.

[00:25:28]:

It’s that’s closer to a fact. K. So we’re attacking this beautiful company that does focus on family and this owner who here’s another thing that really grinds my gears. So everyone’s like, we need to do better for moms.

We need to do better for moms, like and acting like she’s this nasty male CEO that, like, doesn’t give a rat, you know what, about moms and kids and this and that because they keep harping on the fact that the child is adopted and Ying has mentioned that the child is adopted, but that’s just a piece of the story.

She’s not, you know, giving it any less of a title, but she’s just saying like, this is the situation, right? But yet everyone seems to forget that Ying is a female owner and CEO of, quite frankly, one of, if not the largest children’s clothing companies in this country, in the United States.

And she comes from China. Are we forgetting what they do to little girls in China? So the fact that she has risen up and taking this company, come to the United States, had this vision, and built this company, you wanna talk about, like, overcoming and, like, being a role model for females, and how dare you say that she doesn’t care about females when she’s a mother, she’s a wife.

She built this company that is family oriented. She knows where she came from and how they treat little girls. Come on. Give me a break with that. And I just think we need to give people more grace because we’re all gonna screw up.

We’re all gonna say things. Maybe it’s today, maybe it’s a year from now, maybe it’s something you said five years ago. And we need to be forgiven, and we need to be able to move on.

Critiquing Cancel Culture and Influencer Integrity

The cancel culture in this country, specifically, that thrives on social media is disgusting. And I’m not just saying it you know, in this situation, in general. Doesn’t mean I agree with what Bud Light did or this and that, like but I still don’t believe they should be canceled. You know?

It doesn’t mean that I necessarily would go out and buy it. You know? I can make different decisions and I can take my stance, but for influencers to be on social media, have no affiliation with this family, have no connection to, like, resonating with the story because they had a child in NICU or had an, you know, a similar experience, albeit, you know, kinda like off to the side like mine was, and be out there and promoting this cancel culture message is wrong, and they need to be very careful with their words.

So I say all this to say, let’s go into business and business decisions using a business mindset. And using our head with a piece of our heart, I do believe there needs to be heart involved with it.

And Ying has said that they’re going to look over their policies and procedures and reevaluate and I do believe that across the board, for the most part, women are not supported when it comes to postpartum care or, you know, maternity leave and that goes for fathers too, you know, paternity leave.

If you look at Europe, they get off for over a year. Us over here, we’re fighting for 12 weeks. Yes. I believe there needs to be changes, but I don’t believe we should be crucifying a company or a CEO that has risen up from a situation that could have been, quite frankly, very dismal for her, and she has helped and loved on so many families in her life with through her company, through her product. We should never forget that.

One bad misstep should never negate all of the good things that she has done. And we need to give her grace, and there needs to be forgiveness, and influencers need to learn when to shut their mouths. Because you never know when it can come back and haunt you.

So that’s my take on the Kyte Baby drama. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to reach out to me on Instagram. My handle is @macrowley. I did a live on it, and I was even more heated than I am now, but I wanted to get this out there in podcast form too because I think it’s a really important lesson that seems to be repeating itself self in our society every few months, and, unfortunately, a really good company that has an amazing product was the victim of this cancel culture.

And I pray for that employee’s family and that little baby, and I’m grateful that people are supporting her and donating to her financially, and I think that’s important. But I think we need to love on both sides because there’s always two sides to every story.

If you wanna get more of this type of content, make sure you follow me on Instagram at @macrowley. And if you love this episode, let me know by tagging me on IG or even leaving a podcast review. See you next week.

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