Utah-based online marketplace, meant to empower women’s business, goes dark

Vendors say Jane.com, touted as a marketplace made for women, owes them thousands of dollars.

(Internet Archive) A screengrab of the shopping website Jane.com. The site was listed as "down for maintenance" on Friday, Nov. 17, 2023 — though employees say on social media that the Lehi-based company has shut down.

Jane.com — the Lehi-based retail website that promised to revolutionize online shopping and help women business owners thrive — shut down Friday, according to now-former employees.

The employees told of the company’s closure on LinkedIn, and to The Salt Lake Tribune — confirming suspicions of vendors who said they were getting recent payments on fulfilled orders late or not at all, and that the company seemed on the brink of collapse.

[Read an update: As Jane.com heads toward liquidation, its customers, employees and vendors ask: What happened?]

“What does that mean for all the small businesses?” Jen Abegg, who started selling jewelry on Jane.com more than 10 years ago, said Friday. “It’s been very disappointing as a small business owner. … It’s going to devastate families.”

Attempts to contact the company’s leadership Friday were unsuccessful. The Jane.com website went down early Friday morning, blank except for a brief message: “Down for maintenance.”

Joana McKenna — named CEO in March 2022 — told the fashion site Glossy: “I’ve been brought on to drive the tech transformation that will turn Jane into a full-fledged third-party marketplace.” In April, McKenna told KSL about her planned changes to the site, shifting toward a model that would allow sellers to choose how long to feature their product. But it’s unclear who is currently serving as the company’s leader. [Update: McKenna contacted The Tribune on Dec. 9, 2023, and said she was no longer leading Jane.com at this point.]

One former employee, who asked to remain anonymous to not jeopardize his last paycheck, said executives broke the news to Jane’s roughly 100 employees that the company was “ceasing operations” Friday morning. No one was offered severance, the employee said.

“It’s just sad,” the employee said. “It’s sad for so many people besides myself.”

Abegg said vendors had been “ghosted” in recent weeks, and other vendors said communication from the company had stopped.

In emails and interviews with The Tribune, and in forums on Reddit and Facebook, dozens of Jane.com vendors claimed the company owes them tens of thousands of dollars. Some shared screenshots of their balances, taken before the website went dark.

Another vendor, who asked to remain anonymous so sales on other sites would not be affected, shared her sales dashboard with The Tribune. They showed the retailer owes her roughly $35,000.

“I feel so betrayed,” she said Friday, crying. She added that she feels bad for customers whose orders may never be fulfilled.

Abegg said Jane.com had been good for her jewelry business — so much so that her husband quit his job to help her fulfill orders. The jewelry business became her family’s primary income, she said, and for a time, Jane.com accounted for roughly 80% of sales.

Jane.com offered vendors visibility and sales volume, and its quick three-day sales created a sense of urgency in buyers. For a cut of the proceeds — roughly 25%, several vendors said — Jane quickly became an easy and efficient sales platform.

Two vendors filed reports with the Lehi Police Department. Officers in both cases did not find enough evidence for criminal fraud charges, according to police reports, but suggested vendors talk to attorneys or file civil complaints.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

Shannon Sollitt is a Report for America corps member covering business accountability and sustainability for The Salt Lake Tribune. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by clicking here.