Lisa Frank, Inc., purveyor of rainbow unicorn stationery, star-filled Trapper Keepers and sparkly animal stickers, was a staple of ’90s girlhood. Lisa Frank herself, who founded the brand in 1979, is less well-known. She rarely gives interviews, and doesn’t want anyone to know what she looks like.
“I’m a lunatic,” the reclusive artist quipped–while shrouded in darkness–in an Urban Outfitters video promoting her products. That’s not at all an exaggeration, according to a new Jezebel investigation of the company and its leadership, including Frank and her former husband, James Green. Court documents and interviews with former employees reveal bizarre, hostile policies implemented at the company’s Tuscon, Ariz. headquarters, where workers were reportedly not allowed to speak to each other, phone calls were secretly recorded, and no visitors were allowed. Once, Green instructed a manager to padlock the building doors when an employee left work 10 minutes early, so that no one else could “escape,” according to Jezebel.
“Lisa Frank is notorious in Tucson as the world’s shittiest employer,” said Caroline, who considered applying for one of the many job openings at the company she saw advertised when she moved to Tucson in 2001, but decided against it after speaking with locals. “Every single person I talked to advised me to avoid Lisa Frank at all costs,” she said. “I didn’t know a single person who had not heard horror stories about the work environment there.”