Yesterday (Sunday, October 30th), I had this very ugly and very public dispute at the Larchmont Farmers Market! I used to buy my sage from a man named Raz to make Wild Beauty’s Kickin It w/Basil Sage and Mint body oil. To help him out and grow our businesses, I started carrying his sage. He really liked my basil sage and mint body oil and asked if I could make a sage body oil for him. I did and sold it to Raz at wholesale prices. A lot of people were buying his sage from me. I would give him his money for the sage I sold. When it came time for him to pay me for the body oils I made for him, I would always get an excuse and when I did get paid from him, it was a partial payment.
When my computer died (read the blog post), I lost everything so I stopped vending for 3 weeks. During that time period we went back and forth. I told Raz, “I’ll give you your money and the dried sage that I didn’t sell. You give me the money you owe and any bottles of the sage oil leftover. We cut all ties from each other and be done. He didn’t want to do that. He just wanted his money.
Yesterday was my first day back in Larchmont. When Raz saw me he completely lost it. ow The first words out of his mouth were, “Where’s my money?” So I asked him back. “Where’s mine?” to which he replied, “I wasn’t entitled to any.” and proceeded to call me everything derogatory you could say about a black person and a woman. He should have sent people to where I live and took care of me. Raz took a picture of me and sent it to his sister in Northern California. Raz called her on his phone and said, “I just sent you a picture of the woman who stole from me. This is the woman I told you about. You’ve got her oils. You know what to do. Handle it.”
Now in between texting, calling people telling them about me, threatening me and cussing me out including wishing harm on me. That everything will come back on me 10 times worse. I didn’t feed into to. I didn’t yell nor did I cause a scene with him. Raz was making a big enough scene for the both of us. When people would come to my stand to look at the candles, he would tell them don’t buy from me, that I was a thief. I videotaped some of the dirty tactics he was using to scare my customers away. It didn’t work because people still kept coming by my table looking to buy my body oils and candles despite the chaos. I remained calm. When he couldn’t get a response from me or get my customers to turn on me, Raz upped the hostility even more.
When I went to take a picture of the sign with my camera, he came up to me and knocked my camera out of my hand and broke it. I called the police. They took a report. The officer informed me he couldn’t be charge with anything not even breaking my phone. There was a witness but he didn’t want to get involved so he said, he didn’t see anything. The officer informed me it was he said, she said. It was he said she said. They told Raz, he had to leave. The cops know Raz because he goes to the different neighborhoods all over LA and sells his sage on the street. They were chatting with him. He told the police I planned this. I came to Larchmont with the intention to set him up. My intention today was to have fun, sell my body oils and candles.
And on top of all this, yes he wants to take me to small claims court. He can go right ahead. I’m selling his sage, paying him from the profits we made and he doesn’t want to pay me for the body oils I made him, which he is selling right in front of my face. I take some of the blame for being too nice, even when he disappeared for 3 weeks, still owing me money. I didn’t chase after him. I understand that everyone has tough times and still tried to work with him. Everyone has tough times. I have to remember that this is a business and not everyone is going to be ethical and deal in good faith.
I’ve been learning some really hard lessons lately. I can tell you this. When someone is in your face, threatening you, trying to physically and verbally intimidate you. Stay calm, I know it’s hard but keep your composure (it wasn’t easy for me either but I did.) Don’t feed into the hostility, once you do they win. When they put their hands on you even if it’s knocking the camera out of your hand they have crossed the line. Instead of fighting with him I called the police.
Some of you may be thinking why did you call the police? Nothing happened to him. It seems like a waste of time. Yes, I had someone tell me that. They said I should have punched him in his face when he knocked the camera out of my hand. I told him, “Then I’d be sitting in jail or both he and I would be sitting in jail. How does sitting in the LA County jail help anyone?”
This is about standing up for me. I’m speaking up because NO ONE has the right to intimidate you. NO ONE has the right to put their hands on you. NO ONE has the right to threaten you. NO ONE the right to destroy your property. Sometimes just the way you handle a situation is a victory because while their doing all those dirty tricks in turn that person looks bad to people (a few people said so defending me). I’m fighting back by writing this blog and telling other small business owners to stand up for yourself. Unfortunately in business everyone is going to be ethical and deal in good faith as you. For those who don’t their are many other that do.
To my customers at Larchmont I want to say I’m truly sorry you had to witness such ugly behavior and scene that should have never escalated to that point. I’m not sure if I’m going to do anymore street vending after this incident. Maybe this is a sign for me to start focusing all my attention on doing events such as holiday boutiques. Concentrate more on getting my candles and body oils into stores. I have a lot to think about.
Felecia Scott / Founder Wild Beauty