June 2, 2020
Seven years ago, a group of people worked together to rebuild a twice-bankrupt Ashley Stewart on a foundation of kindness, mutual respect and humanity. Our path has not been perfect but we have tried hard to ensure that Ashley Stewart would be a safe place (emotionally + physically - whether in a store or on-line or at one of our events) for our predominantly Black employees and customers, alike. This focus saved the Company seven years ago and has driven innovation and social impact that far transcends commerce. More recently, it has sustained the Company throughout the on-going Covid-19 shutdown and kept our customers and employees safe. This focus, as one can imagine, has made the murder of George Floyd and the events of the past several days especially difficult to bear for our world/family that we call Ashley Stewart.
Please have the courage to be compassionate and express love. Yes, even in the business context. You can do it. Courage is not bullying or some juvenile bravado; rather, it is the strength to stand up and speak and ACT firmly, and with purpose, on behalf of those in need of friendship and advocacy. Without the need for gratitude or affirmation. Be courageous.
I have never been more proud to say that #iamashleystewart. And yes, Black Lives Do Matter.
James C. Rhee
Executive Chairman and CEO