Gov. Asa Hutchinson had a lavish inaugural ball in January, but social media is now buzzing about some unhappiness over credit for the decor.
Interior designer Shayla Copas made a long post on Facebook yesterday in which she said she designed the event but the provider of floral arrangements appeared to be taking design credit or at least not sufficiently crediting her for overall event design. I’m about as outside as you can get on Hutchinson events so I have no opinion.
If you have Facebook connections, you can read the ins and outs at the link. Copas wrote, in small part:
The question that many of you will probably have is “Why go to this extent and deal with all the potential fallout or drama from this post?” I have considered that very question for several days and have come to this conclusion. I am a member of a distinguished national interior design association and this subject is discussed frequently at our annual meetings. In addition, I am President of the state chapter of the lnterior Design Society. If I don’t stand up to protect my industry and its talented members, WHO will?
What makes this of interest to me is politics. This is a conflict between two Hutchinson administrator insiders.
Copas, in addition to being chosen to design inaugural balls in 2015 and 2019 is a member of the Governor’s Mansion Commission and a contributor to Hutchinson political campaigns. The florist firm that has irked Copas? Tipton and Hurst, co-owned by Howard Hurst and Stacy Hurst. Stacy Hurst was chair of Hutchinson’s first inaugural and an administration insider from the beginning. She’s now director of the Department of Arkansas Heritage and potentially head of what Hutchinson envisions as a new agency combining Heritage and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism.
Tipton and Hurst also
The Hutchinson administration has not provided a report on income and expenditures on the inaugural ball. The money went through the larger account of the state Republican Party, where details aren’t earmarked as being inauguration-related. All the bills aren’t settled yet. But a partial report showed $45,000 went to Tipton and Hurst and $27,000 to Shayla Copas. Familiar corporate names provided much of the cash for the event.
I sought comments from Copas and Hurst. Copas promised to get back after a meeting. So far, no return call. I’ve gotten no response to an e-mail and phone call to Tipton and Hurst. I note a video on their Facebook page shows off the
UPDATE: Howard Hurst provided this statement by e-mail:
Tipton & Hurst has been proud to partner with professionals to help execute their designs over the years, including the most recent Arkansas Inaugural Ball, where we were hired as the florist and Shayla Copas Interiors was hired as the designer and project manager. As a more than 130-year-old small business, we understand the importance of proper credit. That’s why we recognized Shayla’s efforts in our company’s January social media posts.
UPDATE II: Copas got back to me this evening and said a statement in response to Hurst would be coming before long A difference of opinion continues apparently.
UPDATE III: Here’s Copas’ response to Hurst’s comment:
“In response to Howard Hurst’s statement that Tipton and Hurst provided “proper credit” in their posts after the ball, I adamantly disagree. Shayla Copas Interiors was listed in the written content of both of their posts in a misleading way. The written posts were constructed in a way that made the audience believe that I was on their team instead of the overall designer and project manager of the entire event. Numerous comments were made by their followers congratulating them on the “design, decor” and so forth. In the written portion of their posts they made no attempt to clearly state that they were the florist and implementing my design. A video was embedded in one of the posts where Chris Norwood did give me credit, however, evidenced by the majority of the comments on their site, it was apparent that their followers did not pick up on that. I commented on their post, thanking Tipton and Hurst for their great work, but clearly indicating that I was the event designer. The initial question in my mind was, “if they clearly indicate me as the overall designer in the video, why not clearly indicate that in the written content of their posts?”
In addition, one of their employees, that worked on the event as their “special events coordinator” and her mother, also posted the ball on their personal social media sites. They made no mention of me or anyone else whatsoever and yet allowed their followers to give the coordinator credit for the design of the event but never once made her role clear. I commented on their posts thanking their followers for their kind words about my design and Tipton and Hurst for their work, but clearly stating that I was the designer of the ball. After two days, they removed my comments from their posts. Fortunately I screen shotted that prior to the removal since, at this point, something just did not seem right. So why would Tipton and Hurst and a Tipton and Hurst coordinator be so vague in all of their posts? Posting the ball is not the issue. The combination of all these vague posts from Tipton and Hurst, their Coordinator and her mother created a great deal of confusion and initiated a large number of calls, emails, and messages with followers and clients asking me “who the ball designer really was”. I even received a call from a stranger wanting to hire the ball designer but was confused on who that was.
Thinking that Mr. Hurst might not know what was being posted on his social media site or that his coordinator appeared to be taking credit for their work and mine, I contacted Mr. Hurst and brought all of this to his attention. He simply blew it off and indicated no interest in my concerns. I asked him to correct his posts and have his employee do the same to afford me the appropriate credit that I earned. He refused. It would have cost him nothing to edit the posts. Over the course of almost a month he was contacted by myself, my publicist and my attorney, all of whom are wondering why he wouldn’t simply rectify the issue. At this point it was obvious that all of this was intentional so I decided to research his website. On the “Events’ tab I found a link labeled “event portfolio” that re-directed me to a Tipton and Hurst Event Design Pinterest Portfolio with pictures of previous events, two of which I designed and they provided the floral. Each photo had the title “Event Design” under the photo. One was an Opus event and the other was the 2014 Inaugural Ball. Since they clearly advertise event design services on their website I finally realized that, not only had they taken credit for my previous event designs, it looked as if they were setting themselves up to publish this event in the same fashion. I have sent you a video to prove this point. They have since removed the 2014 Inaugural Ball photograph but have left the Opus event photo.
The professional photography of this event has not been released to Mr. Hurst because he has refused to sign an agreement that would require him to give credit to all individuals involved in the ball.
Another key point, that I have not mentioned, is that I modified the majority of the floral on the project. So, I literally designed the floral as well. But have not tried to take credit for that. All of this is documented with photos and videos indicating my modifications.
It is interesting to note, that after my post last night. A follower came forward on the comment thread claiming she had a similar issue with Tipton and Hurst. …..
In conclusion for nearly a month, me, my public relations agent, and my attorney have tried to persuade Mr. Hurst to correct the issues. After receiving no response from our latest attempt I initiated my own public awareness campaign to shed light on the abuse of creative ownership and to protect the members of my industry. Because of this unfortunate situation, I am adding “social media and online etiquette” to my many initiatives for 2019 as I work to strengthen, protect and educate my industry and the public as a whole.