If you are the sort of person who browses the Williams-Sonoma or Crate & Barrel websites and then pops over to Instagram (in other words, if you are a millennial, specifically one whose friends are getting married), you’ve likely seen ads for Great Jones cookware. Since it was founded in 2018 by childhood friends Sierra Tishgart and Maddy Moelis, both still in their 20s, Great Jones has positioned itself as the affordable alternative to Le Creuset and Staub: heavy-duty cast iron pots enameled in pretty colors for people still living on entry-level salaries but who aspire to something greater.
The pandemic should have been a great time for Great Jones: everyone was stuck at home, experimenting in the kitchen, raising sourdough and cooking casseroles that would last for three days. But instead, the company imploded. In August, Moelis was pushed out by her cofounder, and by September, all six of the company’s employees had resigned. The company still exists, but who can’t resist a good dose of drama on a Monday morning?
Anna Silman at Insider has the full story of the feud between Tishgart, who handled marketing and promotion, and Moelis, who ran the business side, and how it affected the rest of the company. There were allegations of mismanagement from members of both teams, though the majority of the staff appeared to support Moelis, who, they said, actually seemed to know what she was doing, as opposed to Tishgart, who was more concerned with the company’s image at the expense of treating employees well and who also spent money irresponsibly and asked insensitive questions at meetings.
But there were shenanigans going on at higher levels, mostly involving board members and investors who were allied with one founder or the other.
This story, it’s true, would not be getting nearly as much attention if Tishgart hadn’t done such a good job of promoting Great Jones and arranging to have herself featured in glossy magazine spreads (which did not mention Moelis at all). Great Jones also has connections to other girlboss-led companies that suffered spectacular implosions over the past few years; the owners of Away suitcases, the Wing, and Sqirl were all investors.
There’s an argument to be made that it’s misogyny that causes us to take such glee in the downfall of these girlbosses. But I think also that there’s a fair amount of schadenfreude involved. Reading between the lines of Silman’s story, it’s fair to assume that neither of the founders was part of the class of strivers to whom Great Jones was marketed. These were two thin white women with straight and shiny hair from wealthy families whose parents could afford to buy them complete sets of Le Creuset and who were able to finance their company by leaning on their personal connections: last year, a group of investors that offered to give Great Jones a fresh infusion of cash in exchange for two board seats turned out to be led by Moelis’ father, and the company’s newest board member, Nicolas Jammet, a cofounder of Sweetgreen, is a close friend of Tishgart. This is the epitome of the cliche of the person who is born on third base but is convinced they hit a triple. Plus, word on the street is that the product is actually junk.
Anyway, Silman’s story is a fun read, and if you still have a yearning for enameled cast iron cookware after you’ve read it, follow this wise advice from Helen Rosner, posted on Twitter: “Le Creuset and Staub both make phenomenally beautiful enameled cast-iron cookware that lasts forever and comes in zillions of colors!!... If you can’t swing full price *dont* buy from brand outlets — those are production seconds & alternate formulations. Buy past-season colors on clearance, wait for annual sales, or (best of all) buy well-loved pots second-hand from estate sales, yard sales, Etsy, etc.”
After all (assume mom voice here), would you rather buy one Le Creuset pot that lasts forever or a second cheap-but-not-really-that-cheap pot to replace the one that got ruined because it was poor quality to begin with?