Last updated on 5/3/21; updates are added chronologically at the end of the post below.
To the customers, colleagues, stockists and friends of Quince & Co. -As you may have heard, this week, our Managing Director was called out for deficiencies in the company’s hiring and selection practices, compensation policies for in-house designers and vendors, and overall management communication practices — and not for the first time. We
recognized as a company that swift and drastic changes were necessary, and today we are sharing with you the specific actions taken under our new authority as Co-Directors of Quince & Co.
It is painfully apparent that the lack of leadership skills at the top of our organization has resulted in a serious departure from our values as a company. The actions of our Managing Director are at odds with our and our employees’ personal ethics. It has also been of vital importance to ensure that changes made to Quince’s operations served first and foremost the best interests of our employees, and that these were carefully considered and communicated internally first.
Effective February 10th, Ryan FitzGerald has stepped down as Managing Director of Quince & Co., and no longer has a role within the operations of Quince & Co., Twig & Horn, or Stone Wool. Stesha Rudnicki, our Business Operations Manager, and Emily Greene, our Design Director, have stepped in on an interim basis as Co-Directors while we work with an outside management consultant to seek the right person for long-term leadership of this company. Stesha and Emily bring more than 20 years of combined business and creative professional experience prior to Quince. This change came at the urging and with the support of Quince’s employees.
In addition, we have engaged the services of a well-known and respected human resource consulting firm to audit our company’s hiring and management practices and ensure they are ethical, equitable, and non-discriminatory.
Moving forward, our first priority is to do what we can to set things right with those directly impacted. We cannot undo what has been done, but we can work to ensure that all Quince employees and contractors - past, present, and prospective - are treated fairly, with dignity, professionalism, and respect from this point on. Our new leadership team has already reached out directly to former employees to personally apologize on behalf of the company, and most importantly, take steps to remedy long-outstanding issues.
We know this is only the beginning of the work that needs to be done if we are to earn back your trust. We sincerely hope these first steps, and the positive changes to come will inspire confidence that Quince is listening and moving in the right direction.
We know you may have questions and feedback regarding these changes; please feel free to reach out to our new leadership directly at email@example.com.
- Stesha, Emily, and our team at Quince & Co.
Stesha and I would like to address the very pertinent question of ownership.
Upon Ryan’s resignation, we enthusiastically stepped up to take the positions of Co-Director with operational authority. We did this because we care about our fellow employees, customers, and stockists; we love our products; and we believe in Quince & Co. While Ryan owns Quince & Co. for now, he is no longer compensated in any form; and, any profits will be reinvested to sustain the organization.
While changes in leadership were swift, changes in legal and corporate structure take time, and must be designed with care and intention for those of us remaining who are committed to building Quince’s future. We are working with a highly regarded business consultant, and she is helping us identify the most appropriate succession plan that supports and benefits existing and future employees.
We wanted to update all of you on the continued changes happening at Quince.
With the help and guidance of our management consultant, who is supporting Quince during this transition, we continue to lead the company forward on a day to day basis, managing all aspects of the business.
Our focus as Co-Directors continues to be on implementing improvements to our management processes and our internal working environment. We have begun developing long-term strategies to support Quince’s future as well as the future of our employees.
We continue to work with our outside HR consultant in reviewing all internal company policies. Specifically, we have prioritized re-evaluating the company’s recruitment and hiring practices to ensure they are consistent and ethical. As a result of this evaluation, we have decided to discontinue the practice of requesting homework (spec work) assignments from applicants. Applicants for creative positions at Quince will instead be evaluated through interviews and, if applicable, via samples of their previous work. Looking forward, we are committed to evaluating all internal policies to ensure we are following best practices in creating a strong, supportive culture.
We have personally connected with most of our LYS stockists, designers, and vendors, having direct conversations about the internal changes being made at Quince and listening to their feedback on how to improve our working relationships with them. We have learned a great deal and we appreciate these productive discussions.
In addition, over the last month, we have restructured Quince's Board of Advisors to ensure we have strong governance over the company. The board consists primarily of outside professionals who bring a variety of business skills and personal experiences in advising the company moving forward. The Board is committed to making decisions that are in the best interest of the long-term health of the company.
There have been many positive changes made at Quince, and we are firmly committed to continued progress in ensuring that our company’s internal practices and culture are aligned with our core mission and values.
Quince & Co.'s owner and former Managing Director, Ryan FitzGerald, has published an open letter to apologize directly to past, prospective, and current employees of the company. His message can be read here (on Medium).
Grow up all you whiners and public shamers and welcome to the real world. Life is messy and full of people who aren’t exactly like us. These people make a great product. You stop buying it and they have to lay people off.
I have a lot (old as dirt) of quince and co yarns in my stash and several sweaters and coats knitted up. I am selling all of the remaining skeins at a loss and gifting the knitted items to goodwill. I also have twig and horn bags, ditto on them.
I have decided that I will not support your company’s practices with my dollars.
I recently made a purchase from Stonewool not realizing they are a Quince and Co company. After coming to this realization I decided to do my due diligence, follow up on the ongoing changes and efforts going on at Quince and Co, before determining continued patronage. I would encourage you to remain transparent about the continued changes and efforts made against discriminatory and unethical business practices. I would also encourage doing so on all platforms and providing links to each, on each, as you have stated you would prior. I did not see any updated posts on your Instagram about the updates shown here and believe you do yourself and your consumers a disservice. Your writing speaks to a desire towards efforts for fair treatment, practices and inclusivity. I hope to see continued and more expanded transparency of those efforts. This is no longer a day and age where you can keep everything closeted from your consumer, that’s also no way to build brand loyalty. I’m positive continued improvement on accountability and actual change will secure your continued growth and prosperity. It is necessary to ensure you have done enough than to assume to have. I hope to see this happen from you and for you as time passes. Best wishes.
After reading this post and Mr. FitzGerald’s public apology, I’m not certain I understand the horrible offences he committed for which he was fired, nor do I see why this is being shared so openly with the general public. He did not break any laws nor was he accused of embezzling money from the company, correct? It sounds like your staff didn’t like him and didn’t like the way he lead the company. Fine. Do you have to state this so publicly? I agree with some of the previous comments that this seems like a public shaming and isn’t necessary. I love your yarn, your patterns, etc. but this totally naked transparency didn’t sit well with me – I found it confusing and gratuitous.
I am glad to see an apology from Ryan. I hope the employees and contractors harmed by his ineptitude are The importance of businesses being led with accountability from the top down cannot be overstated. It is a critical part of leadership as leaders are human and will make mistakes. The faster a leader recognizes this and puts it to use, the more effective they will be and the more their employees and organization will benefit from the example. While all leaders should be in a state of perpetual growth and development, it looks like Ryan is catching up and recognizing the harm of neglecting this adage. In the meantime, I hope the current leadership at Quince continues to learn from these missteps and treats its employees and contractors with integrity. Building on the foundation of accountability and integrity, Quince will likely be able to recover most, if not all, of its standing in the knitting community if it puts in the work.
I’m sick and tired of this culture of public shaming and forced apologies. You may as well have put the man in the village square and thrown him in the pillory. You have just lost my custom because of your lack of professionalism.
After reading all of the comments and Ryan’s letter, it seems there are a lot of sensitive feelings being hurt by the operations of running a business. I suggest you all work for a large corporate company and then you will see that not always are feelings part of operating a business. Airing dirty laundry is not good optically for any business and should be done in a closed setting. You sometimes have to suck up the things you do not like for the good of the whole. I hope you can all get past this and please, no more updates. Just announce your final outcome and all the little stuff keep inside and with your Vendors.
I found your above blog posts helpful as I had read about your management issues elsewhere on the web. I hope quince & co. are now a happy bunch.
Love your yarn and hope that any future problems don’t get aired so publicly. Businesses are tough enough to manage.
it is really important to me that I know the character of businesses I support. I believe that there should be consequences to unethical behaviors and that I need information to decide what my consequences will be. so thanks for being kind of transparent. but what exactly did this Ryan do? I love my Quince products I order online and they are also carried in my local sewing shop. I belong to Quince Quarterly. Please let me know if this is a right wing group because I cannot support any business with those values. thanks and good luck.
I am a lifelong knitter and devotee of Quince, but your blog posting gives me pause. What is your purpose in airing internal management issues so publicly? I cannot weigh in on the actions of your Managing Director, nor would I want to. But why “call out” someone without presenting the other side? In my experience, contracting is a negotiation between two parties. No question the employer holds the power here, but an employee is always free not to agree to or sign a contract. Sounds like you are retroactively airing grievances, leveraging the current use of social media to discredit a person/situation. I hope you will think long and hard about the long-term wisdom and consequences of your public shaming. I will think long and hard about wanting to do business with you again.
I just wanted to add to my March 4 comment — I was reorganizing my stash this past weekend and was impressed, as always, with the lovely yarn, textures, and colors that I have from Quince. Lavenders and pale blues in Sparrow, a lovely pale forest green in Owl, and not to mention the heathered Chickadee colors and the Willet that I have been currently knitting for Spring and Summer.
This company has produced some wonderful products. And again, Stone Wool, its ancillary effort of breed specific yarns has really excited my interest.
I think the transparency and eagerness to deal with issues is as encouraging as the company’s products are fine. So again best wishes and Quince must go on!
Speaking generally, there’s nothing wrong at all with consumers wanting to know about a company’s practices in producing a product they purchase. In times past people boycotted companies doing business in South Africa. Going forward this interest has progressed to how companies treat their employees, and where products are manufactured and under what conditions (think sweat shops). So nothing wrong with that at all.
I have great hopes for Quince and am glad to see them addressing this issue of ownership in that addendum, and how that works. And these things do take a while. While I have a good amount of Quince yarn in my stash already, I’ve become very interested in Stone Wool. I would hate to see that go away! Best wishes and so hope all goes well.
Thank you for your transparency. I think it’s important for you to continue to provide updates to your customers, and here on the blog is a good place to do that. It’s very important to me that the values of businesses I support are aligned with my own. I get it that some may not want to know about internal controversy, but based on what I saw on social media, I was prepared to cancel my beloved quarterly subscription if not provided evidence that Quince is the kind of company that I want support. Keep doing the hard work and keep the updates coming. Thank you.
Thank you for updating us. It sounds like you are taking the right steps to turn things around, and I am rooting for you to do so. Quince and Co. puts out great products; I knit with your yarns and patterns almost exclusively now. As you work through the legal issues and corporate structure, I for one will continue as a customer – I have faith that you will get past this and move forward, and I have the patience to understand that it will take time. Thank you for your transparency.
Thank you for speaking to the important issue of corporate ownership today. We appreciate being informed about next steps as you move forward in re-structuring your business. So far it looks like things are moving in a positive direction.
Thank you to Q & C regarding these events. Any reasonable person would wish to see others treated as they want to be, and I think fiber artists (at least the majority) are caring nurturing people who exercise integrity.
That being said, if you don’t care or don’t wish to hear something that may disturb you (don’t jump to conclusions; there may be some who don’t want to hear about recent events because they have suffered similar in their past) simply scroll on. You don’t need to characterize this as “airing dirty laundry”, “I don’t care” or similar. Just move on. I imagine most of us form friendships and relationships with our hearts-it’s not just about the yarn and patterns. There are many that do care, and jumping to conclusions or speaking for others who’s opinion may differ from your own is not helpful.
I am wishing you all the best as you move forward, and also appreciate your attitude of seeking input from others. All my best.
I love your yarn and I am very proud to be a customer. I am sorry that internal issues are being broadcast on social media. We are probably only hearing one side and not even the correct information. I salute you for trying to correct internal issues and pray that you will continue to produce the beautiful yarn that you are known for.
I am very upset to hear of the large issues of unfairness and inequities that have been hidden behind the scenes. Quince is one of my go to companies, especially for my special projects. I want to live in a world were we all examine our buying choices and hold companies accountable for providing a safe and equitable workspace. Yes, it is dirty laundry, but I want to know about it before I decide where to spend my money. This is the only way to build a better future. I sincerely hope that you do the hard work to make this right. I look forward to the day when I feel safe to shop with you again.
Well done you. Shame on those in it “just for the knitting/yarn/patterns.” Ignorance is privilege, stop pretending there is any facet of our lives unaffected by intentional and implicit bias. Unless we are active in our demands for equity and change, status quo only benefits the oppressor. Silence is consent. Air the dirty laundry, be active in making change and making amends. This post makes me a bigger fan of yours and anyone who has been affected by this positive change. Thank you for transparency. I trust you to keep seeking light.
Love my knitting hobby and i’m sick to death of this type of rhetoric. Keep your dirty laundry to yourself.
I agree with Linda, it’s not my business to know what’s going on internally but do wish you luck; I have always loved your yarns and patterns.
If Ryan is not divested of his monetary interests in Quince won’t he still profit from customers who continue to buy yarn?
Thank you for taking immediate and important first steps to right the inequities and abuse of power brought to public attention recently by many in the fibre arts community. As a LYS caught in the middle and feeling betrayed by a company we thought shared our values, we are closely watching the evolution of this situation. We are pleased that Ryan FitzGerald has stepped down as Managing Director and that other actions have been initiated to initiate a change in corporate culture. We are, however, expecting full apologies from Ryan Fitzgerald (both to the community in general and to those personally wronged by his inequitable practices) as well as notice of his divestiture of assets in the company.
I just like your yarn and patterns. I don’t need to know the inside stuff. Good luck.