When Ivanka Trump decided to step down from her eponymous fashion label back in January— just days before her father Donald Trump was sworn in as President of the United States—she handed over the reins to now-president Abigail Klem, the brand’s first hire back in 2013. The idea was for Ivanka to separate herself from her business to avoid potential conflicts. “First, they split their social media accounts…Ivanka got the Twitter and Instagram handles along with their 3.36 million the 3.1 million followers (respectively) while the brand launched a new one…Ivanka also rolled the company into a trust, which means that while she still owns the company, she will have no say in how the business is run, including who the company does business with,” said Klem, 47, in an interview with Refinery29‘s Yael Kohen, her first interview since being promoted from chief brand officer to president.
While Ivanka doesn’t have an official role at the White House, she’s a visible figure at top meetings, which seems at odds with her plan to “take time to settle our three young children into their new home and schools,” which she wrote on Facebook. While Klem might resemble Ivanka (and Melania) in a few superficial ways, they differ in many areas. For one, Klem is a registered Democrat, and she’s a single mother of a 7-year-old daughter and still works in Trump Tower at the Ivanka Trump HQ. Refinery29 reports the office is decorated in the brand’s signature soft pink and neutral hues, with white couches, rose pillows, and scented candles, and framed photos of Ivanka adorn the walls, like the one from Harper’s Bazaar, below. “We are business associates. We’re close in a way. But I want to do this with real integrity,” Klem said. “So I feel like, while we’re not banned from speaking personally, I think it’s just easier if we talk as little as possible.”
Klem and the brand reported record sales over the past six weeks and remain confident—”According to e-commerce aggregator, Lyst: From January to February, Ivanka Trump sales increased 346%. If you compare February 2017 to the average orders in 2016, the brand sales increased 557%,” she said.
Even still, Ivanka Trump, the brand, has still faced turmoil over the past few weeks, like Kellyanne Conway’s on-air brand plug and Nordstrom’s decision to stop selling the line following a weeklong #GrabYourWallet boycott campaign organized by an anti-Trump activist group. “It’s unprecedented what this brand is dealing with. We are really committed to having the brand be separate, even from [Ivanka], so certainly her dad is even more distant from that,” Klem continued. “We’re committed to doing everything we can to carve an identity for this brand that is about what the brand stands for and the core brand attributes. And so absolutely, it complicated matters.”