The founder and CEO of the company that makes Bratz and LOL Surprise dolls went on an inflammatory screed against a Black influencer who accused the company of copying her image.
Isaac Larian, who runs MGA Entertainment, has since apologized for his rant, in which he called influencer Amina Mucciolo a "disgrace to Black people and the BLM cause." He has also deleted his Twitter account.
But the company, which also manufactures Little Tikes among other children's toys, is denying that they copied Mucciolo's look.
Mucciolo, who goes by @StudioMucci on Instagram, described herself to BuzzFeed News as "an artist, designer, and color enthusiast." After starting her Instagram account in 2012 promote her party decor business, Mucciolo gained more than 300,000 followers with her unique style, home decor, and love of rainbows and patterns. She also has a YouTube channel called "Tasselfairy."
Mucciolo also discusses her personal life, such as coming out as bisexual and her autism diagnosis at age 35, to encourage her followers to love themselves.
"I basically just want everybody to feel welcomed, loved, and accepted. And I try to use my social media platforms to serve that purpose," she told BuzzFeed News.
In late 2019, Mucciolo claims she began receiving DMs from followers who asked "if I knew that LOL Surprise made me into a doll." When she checked out the photos of the doll, she said she was shocked.
"The first thing I noticed was the exact replica of a hairstyle I did to celebrate my 35th birthday," she said. "It was aqua with rainbow highlights, and it was shocking because the hairstyle was the result of my imagination and leftover hair I had from the previous style I wore. I didn’t have a visual reference or anything, so it was disturbing to see something that came straight from my mind, to be duplicated on a toy that I had no part in creating."
Mucciolo said she wore her hair in the hairstyle from November 2018 to February 2019.
According to the company, the doll in question, "Rainbow Raver," was released in June 2019.
On June 7 of this year, Mucciolo posted about the doll on her Instagram account, writing that the company "created a doll based on my entire image and identity without my permission."
She claimed she had tried to contact MGA Entertainment, but they ignored her. So, she decided to speak up and asked fans to sign a petition in her favor.
This in not the first time Mucciolo has accused a prominent company of copying her aesthetic and design. Last year, she publicly called out Lisa Frank for, she claimed, copying her apartment for a pop-up hotel. Lisa Frank has denied her claims.
"It was really hard to have this happen," she said. "A lot of my white peers were getting opportunities and design collaborations, meanwhile I was only getting stolen from."
LOL Surprise responded on June 10, denying her allegations and saying the doll has been in development since September 2018.
But Mucciolo has continued to criticize the company.
That's when Isaac Larian, the founder and CEO of MGA Entertainment, got involved. The billionaire fired off a series of attacks at the designer, calling her "a disgrace to Black people and the BLM cause" and a "liar and coward."
"You are a liar and a extortinist [sic] and fraud," he wrote. "Who's your so called lawyer? Put his name and contact information here publicly now so we can contact him or her. Now we will not longer be nice and we will sue you for defamation, extortion and fraud, etc. Watch!"
Mucciolo said when she saw Larian's tweets, she was scared and shocked.
"He is someone who doesn’t even know me or anything about me," she said. "Yet he called me a failure and a fraud and a disgrace to Black people. All of this because I dared to stand up for myself. It was way over the line and it was extremely hurtful."
People on Twitter soon jumped to Mucciolo's defense.
Some began to call out retailers publicly, asking them to respond to Larian's behavior.
Others called on people to boycott the products.
Larian then posted a Notes app apology, where he blamed his screed on "frustration."
He also echoed what LOL Surprise had said in response to the allegations: that the doll had been in production since September 2018.
In their statement, MGA Entertainment said the doll had been developed by one of their Black artists, who said they did not used Mucciolo as inspiration.
"Our colorful and creative team is inspired by trends in pop culture," the company wrote. "Rainbow Raver was designed after music festival fashions. We deeply respect the artistic and creative community and would not take from a creator in the way suggested. MGA works tirelessly to protect our own intellectual property against that behavior."
Larian said his team was attempting to reach Mucciolo to resolve the issue.
He has since deleted his Twitter account, and MGA Entertainment did not return a request for comment on his tweets.
Mucciolo said she is in the process of hiring a lawyer to help her deal with the situation. She added that she plans to continue to speak out.
"I’m not going to let this stop me from expressing myself and putting love, color and positivity into the world," she said. "I will continue to speak up for myself because I feel like in doing so, I’m also speaking up for every other Black artist and independent creative, who is experiencing this kind of theft, but may not have the kind of platform I do. This behavior from big corporations has to stop. It’s too easy just to pay and collaborate with an artist instead of stealing."