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Trump's Presidency Takes Toll On His Daughter's Brand


The U.S. Office of Government Ethics now says President Trump's advisor, Kellyanne Conway, clearly violated federal ethics rules. It recommends the White House investigate Conway and consider disciplinary actions. Last week, Conway went on Fox News and urged shoppers to buy Ivanka Trump's fashion line. Nordstrom had just dropped the products because of poor sales. As NPR's Jim Zarroli reports, Ivanka Trump's line had been seen as successful until her father's political career began affecting it.

JIM ZARROLI, BYLINE: Judy Baldasaro was a delegate for candidate Trump in New Hampshire. And when Nordstrom announced this month that it would drop his daughter's product line, she was outraged.

JUDY BALDASARO: Ivanka is a role model. She's a very graceful, intelligent and hard-working woman. And I think everybody should look up to her and respect her for what she's done instead of attacking her.

ZARROLI: In fact, that is the way a lot of people continue to view Ivanka Trump - as a poised and elegant entrepreneur, the classiest member of the Trump family. She had a lot of success getting her clothes, shoes and jewelry into stores. She's especially popular in Asia. And retail consultant Jan Rogers Kniffen says the Ivanka line has sold well both in the United States and abroad.

JAN ROGERS KNIFFEN: It was successful enough that these companies would've all kept carrying it on its own merits had this not happened. They weren't just carrying it because it was Ivanka Trump selling it. They were carrying it because it was actually selling to a customer.

ZARROLI: What happened is that her father launched his bitterly partisan presidential campaign in 2015. And this year, Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, became prominent parts of the Trump administration. Eric Schiffer is a brand-management consultant.

ERIC SCHIFFER: She has tied herself to a very controversial figure that many women believe is trying to take them back to the 15th century. And anyone associated to Donald Trump is toxic.

ZARROLI: After the release of the infamous Access Hollywood video last October, an online boycott of Ivanka Trump's products got under way, hashtagged #GrabYourWallet. Nordstrom gets a lot of its revenue in the blue states of the West Coast. And the company says Ivanka's sales have taken a beating. According to The Wall Street Journal, Ivanka's sales fell 70 percent at Nordstrom in October. Among anti-Trumpers like Thomas Jenkins, who was shopping outside a Nordstrom in Atlanta, Ivanka is just getting what she deserves.

THOMAS JENKINS: If she's going to be involved in politics in the capacity that she's in, then I think she forfeited that right to have her stuff in a store such as Nordstrom. I mean, you can't have it both ways.

ZARROLI: To retail consultant Jan Rogers Kniffen, the focus on Ivanka is a little ironic. She's positioned herself as one of the more moderate members of the Trump team, something of an advocate for working women. But, he says, the boycott has hurt her. The people behind it are energized. And though Ivanka still has her fans, they just don't seem to be as passionate about supporting her. And retailers know that.

KNIFFEN: So they're all just stepping out of the way. They're saying, you know, we don't want to be in a fight with the president. But we don't want to be in a fight with our customers, either. We're getting out of the way.

ZARROLI: Kniffen notes that big, publicly traded retail companies like Nordstrom owe it to their shareholders to protect their bottom line. And in a hyper-partisan climate like this one, they run for cover when the controversy gets too hot. Jim Zarroli, NPR News, New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Jim Zarroli is an NPR correspondent based in New York. He covers economics and business news.
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