The co-owner of Kiwi lingerie company Lonely has been accused of sharing QAnon conspiracy theories and creating an "uncomfortable" work environment.
Steven Ferguson, who co-founded the company in 2009, allegedly shared claims on Facebook that the coronavirus was fake and suggested Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern planned the Christchurch mosque shooting.
His posts were published in fashion magazine Ensemble on Wednesday, and the outlet said Lonely's legacy appears to be "less about empowering women, and more about embracing QAnon conspiracy theories".
"And not just embracing them, but really sinking their teeth in."
Several high profile celebrities have promoted and posed in Lonely garments under the brand's image of female empowerment and its messages of inclusivity in the past. But behind-the-scenes allegations from former employees show these values could be at odds with its internal culture.
Ensemble magazine co-founder Rebecca Wadey, who worked as the head of marketing at Lonely for three months in 2017, says staff felt uncomfortable working at the company.
"I was really gutted when I first worked there. It's an amazing company, it's an amazing opportunity, and all the staff I have spoken to who have left have felt the same way," she told The Project on Tuesday.
"The first post they did when we were in lockdown was a post about 'are you brave enough to hug' and about 'connecting' - it was a very strange message to be putting out there.
"I think that was around the time the staff were thinking, 'this really is not a great place to work, we're really uncomfortable with this'."
Ferguson is accused of sharing several conspiracy theories on Facebook, including repeated allegations that COVID-19 is fake.
"COVID is Fake," he wrote. "Jacinda Ardern is a transsexual Elite Cabalist."
Ferguson also suggested the Prime Minister planned the Christchurch mosque shooting.
"Were the Mosque shootings planned by Ardern and her sick bunch of Freemasonry worshippers? Disarm the public? No one, nowhere is 'safe'?"
Wadey says it's "really devastating" to hear this.
"I mean, people can support whatever they want. I definitely think they have built their entire brand on this message of inclusivity and female empowerment - it's been something they've been very deliberate on focussing on.
"So I think to find that the brand is absolutely at odds with those values, it's so much more than the owner's personal beliefs."
Helene Morris, the other Lonely co-founder, has also allegedly shared posts with various conspiracies. In one post she shared a 'Plandemic' video and asked people to "feel Bill Gates' energy and watch his body language".
"The head of the WHO and Bill Gates (who basically owns the WHO along with the communist party of China) are both NOT doctors. Not conspiring here, just digging deeper. So irresponsible of me?" she wrote.
Ensemble magazine contacted both co-founders asking about their Facebook posts, but only Morris replied.
"This is interesting as Steve had his FB account hacked months ago and has since deleted it (btw Steve's account was private and he only has about 20 friends hehe)," she wrote in a response to Ensemble magazine.
"Can you tell me more about what you read, when and how you got this information? Steve and I don't fully support lockdowns amongst other thoughts we have to do with COVID/life but our company has nothing to do with our personal beliefs and we don't have any desire to share these with our staff or publicly.
"We are very private people for a reason and prefer it that way...hence the name Lonely lol."
A Lonely representative told The Project: "We would like to make it clear that the staff and Lonely as a company do not in any way support the opinions or beliefs shared by our founders."
"We request that our staff are respected at this time, as we work through this internally."
Newshub has contacted Morris and Ferguson for comment.
Watch Rebecca Wadey's interview on The Project above.