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The Missy Empire boss had an obsession with building a Kardashian-style empire and bullied his terrified staff at their run-down headquarters, a former employee has told MailOnline.
The Manchester-based fast fashion firm, which prides itself on ‘female empowerment’, has come under fire after allegations were made about the ‘toxic’ culture and the behaviour of its managing director Ash Siddique.
Mr Siddique and his brother Ish set up the online only retail business in 2015, and their website says it is ‘for the go-getters, the goal-setters, the kick-ass females who F with convention and create their own kind of pretty’.
JD Sports acquired a majority stake in Missy Empire in June 2021 but sold it to Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group in December 2022.
Behind the facade of empowerment for women, the predominantly young female workforce, many in their first job, were filled with ‘instant anxiety’ when they had to deal with Mr Siddique, who they say was a bully that thrived off instilling fear.
Mr Siddique, who is understood to deny the claims, is accused of screaming at staff – including one who he called a ‘f***ing idiot’ – unless they ‘obeyed’ him and ‘made him feel like the most amazing person’.
One female staff member who worked at Missy Empiretold MailOnline: ‘He was very obsessed with the Kardashians. That was what Missy Empire was solely built on – the Kardashians.’
Pictures obtained by the Mail show how one of the walls in the run-down pink office had a quote which read: ‘What would Kim or Kylie do?’
Ash Siddique (left) and his brother Ish (right) founded Manchester fast fashion firm Missy Empire in 2015
Ash Siddique had an obsession with the Kardashians, former staff said. This quote about Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner was in the office – and a build up of mould can be seen above
Mr Siddique is accused of screaming at staff unless they ‘obeyed’ him and ‘made him feel like the most amazing person’. Pictured is Charlotte Williams modelling for Missy Empire
The predominantly young female workforce were filled with ‘instant anxiety’ when they had to deal with Mr Siddique. Pictured is Lucie Peach modelling for Missy Empire
Above the quote, a significant amount of mould had built up, which the ex-employee – who wished to remain anonymous – said was making them ill.
She explained: ‘The office is just full of mould and we used to say about it all the time because we were all getting really ill – and we were like, is it the mould? It’s got no windows. It was just horrible, there was no air ventilation at all.’
The former employee, who claims she was suddenly fired when they found out she had been going for other interviews, said that Mr Siddique was a bully who thought he ‘was better than everyone else’
She continued: ‘If you didn’t agree with that, then that’s when he had a problem with you. If you obeyed him, he was absolutely fine with you.
‘But if you didn’t like him… or you went against his what he wanted, that’s when he didn’t like you and he would be horrible to you.
‘Everything had to be how he wanted it. And if you didn’t obey him, then he didn’t like you. You had to make him feel like he was the most amazing person otherwise he didn’t like it.’
The ex-staff member also shockingly claimed that Mr Siddique’s brother, Ish, dealt with any emails sent to the company’s HR email address.
‘Everyone knew that if something happened there was nowhere to go because Ish was actually HR. If you emailed HR at Missy Empire, it was Ish,’ she said.
‘So you couldn’t say, “Oh I’ve just had an altercation with Ash” because it would go straight to Ish.’
This picture from the Missy Empire HQ shows mould growing on the ceiling, which staff said they complained about after getting ill
Women claimed they were reduced to tears amid a toxic environment. Pictured: Geordie Shore star Chloe Ferry wearing Missy Empire clothes
Missy Empire say they are ‘for the go-getters, the goal-setters, the kick-ass females who F with convention and create their own kind of pretty’
Seven members of staff also alleged they were ‘fired without reason’ and a further two claimed they were ‘unable to keep copies of their employment contracts’. Pictured: Love Island star Laura Anderson wearing a Missy Empire dress
The Missy Empire XX brand logo stands for the female chromosome which the company say is ‘a subliminal reminder that we are for the female and we will continue to empower you by the power of clothes’.
But the former worker revealed how their boss would ‘make your life hell’ if you handed in your notice.
She explained: ‘With one of the girls, he just completely ignored her, he he didn’t speak to her at all. He just cut off communication.
‘Everything she did, he would have an issue with it. There was nothing that she could do right, basically.
‘She left because he swore at her in the office and called her a f***ing idiot, and screamed it so loud that we could all hear.’
The ex-Missy Empire worker also revealed how on a separate occasion he just started ‘swearing and getting really angry’.
She explained: ‘I remember one day we all just went silent because we could just hear him screaming, and we were like, who is he screaming at? It was so bad that we were like, I hope it’s not someone in there.’
On the day she was fired, the ex worker says that she was called around 10 times by Ish but did not answer because she was driving.
An ex-staff worker told how complaints to Missy Empire’s HR were dealt with by Ish Siddique (left) so people were scared to raise issues about his brother Ash (right)
When she got home and replied she was told that they would speak about it on Monday, but no meeting ever happened. That night, she got back into her car to go home and Ash told her over WhatsApp not to come back to work.
She also claims that when she was fired, she did not receive her pay until she threatened a court claim.
The worker also said that influencers would be furious at not being paid on time – and many had to threaten court action to get their money from Missy Empire.
Speaking about working at Missy Empire, she said: ‘They kind of sell you a dream when it’s your interview and then when you get there everyone wants to just get out.’
She continued: ‘It was just all really toxic. But then, also, the way Ash speaks to you like it’s just so horrible like you literally went in every day thinking what is going to happen today.
‘When he would ring the phone for you to go into the office, you would like feel like instant anxiety.’
She said that although she did not witness it first hand, colleagues told her how Mr Siddique used to ‘rate the girls in the office out of 10’.
‘He’d comment on models and he would say, “Oh this girl doesn’t sell because of this reason and that reason”.
‘He just wanted people with big boobs and a big bum and a small waist.’
It follows a Guardian investigation which found that female staff were told to join OnlyFans – a platform to make money with pornographic videos – instead of getting pay rises by Mr Siddique who reduced them to tears.
Chloe Ross seen leaving the Eve and Jess Gale Missy Empire in July 2021
Love Island star Kady McDermott and Samira Knighty at The Missy Empire Makeup Master Class at Roc and Rye in Manchester
Demi Sims seen leaving the Missy Empire party in Manchester in July 2021
‘We were just having a conversation about pay rises and he [Ash Siddique] said we should all be doing OnlyFans as a side hustle and he will be our agent,’ a staff member told the newspaper.
The staff allege that Mr Siddique ‘made degrading comments about models’ body shape and physical appearance’.
It’s also claimed staff were ‘asked to model clothes for the managing director’.
Seven members of staff also alleged they were ‘fired without reason’ and a further two claimed they were ‘unable to keep copies of their employment contracts’.
The Guardian reports that the claims have been backed up by emails, screenshots and testimonies and that Mr Siddique did not respond to the allegations.
MailOnline has also contacted Missy Empire for comment.