Founders of popular fashion brand Beyond the Vines (BTV), Daniel Chew and Rebecca Ting, were recently on the receiving end of backlash for the way they handled an allegation about Chew.
Things started when some online users alleged that Chew was taking a side in the Israel-Hamas conflict because he was following a pro-Israel Instagram account.
Things quickly took a turn after Rebecca tried to address the issue in a product launch livestream on Nov. 10.
Online users were quick to criticise their handling of the situation as "tone-deaf" and "arrogant".
Chew and Ting issued a public apology on Instagram on Nov. 16.
They acknowledged that their words and the way they handled the situation were "insensitive and inappropriate", given the gravity of the situation in Gaza.
How it unfolded
In an Instagram story on his personal account on Nov. 9, Chew wrote that some users had accused him of supporting "genocide" in the Israel-Hamas conflict.
According to Chew, that allegation came about because people had spotted him following an Instagram account, @firmisreal.
Some of the recent posts on @firmisrael were about Israeli hostages taken during the Israel-Hamas conflict, with others encouraging readers to pray for and support communities in Israel.
Chew wrote that he first knew about the group earlier in 2023 from a colleague who went on a guided tour in Israel.
At the point where he started following the Instagram account, the content revolved around food tours, and adventures off the beaten track.
He claimed that the content angle of the page has since changed. As a result, he unfollowed that account.
A quick check of @firmisrael shows that the account currently belongs to a Christian ministry that aims to spread the Christian gospel in Israel.
Chew, who is also a father, added his thoughts about the situation in Gaza:
"As a father, it pains me to watch the events unfold, every child deserves their right to run back safely to their father's arms," he wrote.
Ting attempted to address the issue further at the start of a livestream on the brand's Instagram page on Nov. 10.
However, it only seemed to make matters worse.
She started by acknowledging that some posts had popped up on their social media revolving around the Israel-Hamas conflict.
"I am here, I am going to address it..." Ting said at the start.
"But I don't want to hang around that point for too long. I know you understand that, because I do want to move on, I do want to talk about this collection, we want to launch this (product)."
Ting proceeded to raise five points, echoing that her co-founder shared in his Instagram story the day before.
She added that Daniel unfollowed the account because he has "no interest in being associated with political content".
She continued to smile and interact with the audience at times.
At the end of her clarification, Ting switched to a more chirpy voice, saying "I am ready to launch this collection!"
Then, she greeted an online user cheerfully before proceeding with the product launch.
Slammed as 'tone-deaf' by online users
The manner and tone in which Ting addressed the Israel-Hamas conflict in her livestream did not sit well with online users.
Many called her out on how she seemed to be in a rush to finish the clarification and move on to the launch., despite the sensitivity of the topic.
Others deemed the presentation of her points tone-deaf and arrogant.
A few irate users called for a boycott of BTV products.
Beyond the Vines apologises
On Nov. 16, Ting and Chew issued a public statement on the Beyond the Vines Instagram page, apologising over the matter.
They admitted that they had said things which hurt some followers deeply and acknowledged that their "words and manner were insensitive and inappropriate".
"In our rush to respond to you, we made some hurtful mistakes in our choice of words and manner. In hindsight, this matter should not have been handled in a brief way but with much more care. We reflected a lack of sensitivity to the gravity of the situation in Gaza," they wrote.
They also clarified that they do not condone the killing of innocent Palestinians in the current Israel-Hamas conflict.
"Our hearts weigh heavy and our thoughts and prayers are with them," they wrote.
The pair also admitted that in this event, their practices as a brand were "grossly inadequate", and committed to learning from the incident.
"We aspire to be a business that our community is proud of and hope to be given the opportunity to learn and get this right in the future," the founders concluded.
Top image from Beyond the Vines (comments added from Instagram).