I’m sorry, but there’s something very funny about a celebrity side hustle absolutely dying in the arse. I just don’t feel bad about failed celebrity businesses, because they’re loaded and famous anyway so it’s not like they’re going to struggle to put food on the table. Eat the rich, baby!
I recently came across a comment thread in the official Facebook group for celeb blind gossip Instagram account Deuxmoi, which kicked off with a member asking: “Can we have a discussion about failed business and lifestyle ventures of the celebrity world?”
Blake Lively’s wannabe GOOP
Gossip Girl alum Blake Lively launched a lifestyle blog in 2014 and there was serious fanfare around it. She even did a Vogue cover story promoting the damn thing, but it copped instant backlash since it was like Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP without the bougie charm.
Like GOOP, Lively was spruiking things like $1200 nappy bags and also many, many Mason jars. So it’s not shocking that it became one of many failed celebrity businesses shouted out in the Deuxmoi thread. The site folded in 2015 with Lively being pretty frank about why in another Vogue story: “It’s not making a difference in people’s lives, whether superficially or in a meaningful way.” Ouch.
The Kardashian Kard
Britney’s toxic restaurant
Back in 2002, Britney Spears was still riding the wave of her iconic 3rd album Britney (think MTV VMA snake moment) and decided to open a Cajun themed restaurant, Nyla, at the Dylan Hotel in midtown Manhattan.
The name was a combo of New York (NY) and her home state of Louisiana (LA) and it launched in June 2002… only to close down later that year due to, according to Vanity Fair “a mountain of debt and a few health-code violations”. (Some people in the Deuxmoi group said there was a few food poisoning stories that came out of Nyla). It’s the same year Britney and Justin Timberlake broke up, so to be fair she probably didn’t even notice or care that she’d joined the list of failed celebrity businesses with Nyla.
Jessica Simpson’s edible beauty products
Lindsay Lohan’s Mykonos Beach Club
Ah, Lindsay Lohan. We absolutely love the gal, but basically everything she’s touched (apart from her Logie-deserving turn on The Masked Singer Australia Season 1) in the last decade has been absolutely cursed. Case in point: her short-lived beach club Lohan Beach House Mykonos, a venue that spawned the equally short-lived MTV series Lindsay Lohan’s Beach Club.
Linds went into the hospitality business in 2016, opening a club in Athens before launching the Mykonos beach club and a second version in Rhodes, called Lohan Beach House Rhodes. When the TV show was cancelled in 2019 it appeared Lindsay Lohan had pulled the pin on the club too, with tourists sharing pics of the place looking like a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Apparently a couple of her venues are still open, even in these trying COVID times, but Mykonos isn’t one of them.
Au Fudge, Jessica Biel’s controversial kids’ restaurant
In 2016 Jessica Biel opened a “kid-friendly” restaurant in Los Angeles called Au Fudge with her business partners Estee Stanley, Joey Gonzalez, Kimberly Muller and Jonathan Rollo. Trawling through the Insta, I kind of can’t tell why it was kid-friendly? There seems to be spaces for kid’s parties, so I’m guessing it was just boasting a high-end Macca’s party vibe.
Anyway, Au Fudge seemed destined to join this illustrious list of failed celebrity businesses as Jess was pretty negative about the restaurant business after launch, telling Jimmy Kimmel on TV in 2017: “The restaurant business is way harder than being a producer,” she said. “[We’re] definitely not making money. Nobody’s making money in the restaurant business, in my experience, at least not yet.”
Things got steadily worse for Jessica Biel, with some ex-employees of the West Hollywood establishment filing a $1.5million lawsuit in March 2018 accusing Jessica and her partners of “collecting gratuities from private events and not distributing them to their workers”, according to a report on Today US. The case was apparently thrown out for being “frivolous”.
But just a few months later, in July 2018, Au Fudge closed abruptly, with an Instagram post reading: “Thank you for so many years of support. Tomorrow is our last day open at the restaurant, but more things to come from Au Fudge.” But as far as I can tell, there hasn’t been anything from Au Fudge since 2019.
Jeremy Renner’s app
For a while there, apps were all the rage as a way to follow celebrities — the aforementioned Kardashians made a killing through theirs, where they would drop exclusive news and content for paying subscribers, kinda before Instagram became as big as it is.
Another “celeb” who thought they’d get into the craze was good old Jeremy Renner. Bless him, he’s mayyyybe B-grade at best and hardly has a cult following, but he boldly launched an app in 2017 as a destination for his legions of fans to gather and discuss everything Jeremy.
According to the New York Times, upon launch he released a statement explaining: “I’m always looking for new ways to connect directly with my fans all over the world in our own shared environment.” Fans actually did subscribe — for a while — but this piece by Stefan Heck for Deadspin explains how dozens of fake Jeremys within the app destroyed it from the inside after Heck pointed out that any replies on posts looked like they were coming from Jeremy Renner himself.
“What this means, as you’ve probably figured out by now, is that if you post “Lookin’ good, Mr. Renner!” under a blurry video of Jeremy driving a dump truck and someone named football_jersey97 replies with “There is diarrhea shooting out of my penis,” your phone will buzz and you will receive a notification with the words “Jeremy Renner: There is diarrhea shooting out of my penis” next to a little picture of Jeremy Renner’s face,” Heck wrote.
Needless to say, once people discovered this and everything went to shit, Jeremy Renner killed the app — landing himself in the thread of failed celebrity businesses. “The app has jumped the shark. Literally,” he wrote on Twitter.
“What was supposed to be a place for fans to connect with each other has turned into a place that is everything I detest. My sincere apologies for this to have not turned out the way I intended.” Awww. He tried.