After A Terrible Law Suit And Miscarriage, It Wasn’t Over, I Came Back Stronger – Samantha Wasser

Byy Samantha Wasser

In the Women Entrepreneur series My Worst Moment, female founders provide a firsthand account of the most difficult, gut-wrenching, almost-made-them-give-up experience they’ve had while building their business — and how they recovered.

A lawsuit and a miscarriage marked the beginning of a tumultuous two years for Samantha Wasser, fast-casual restaurant developer and co-founder of the famous vegan chain By Chloe. The restaurant recently received $31 million to fuel its U.S. and international expansion, but that wasn’t the only reason it made headlines. The legal battles between Wasser and her former partner have played out both in the courts and the media. Wasser tells us how the lawsuit affected her both personally and professionally — and how she moved forward.

What follows is a first-person account of this person’s experience. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

The last two years were extremely difficult for me both personally and professionally. It started with what should’ve been the happiest time, which was seeing By Chloe open with lines around the block and rave reviews from press, our friends and fans. I dedicated my career and poured my heart into building and growing the brand for almost three years before we even opened our first location. To the public, it appeared like we had it all — a successful millennial brand built by two women — but behind the curtain, it was anything but.

samantha wasser

While people were congratulating me and telling me how much of a By Chloe fan they were, I had conflicting emotions that I still struggle with today. I wanted to stay positive and to protect the brand, but in reality, it was incredibly difficult to maintain the perfect picture.

My worst moment came in June 2016, when my former partner filed a lawsuit against us. I was at my office when I found out, and I had to go to the courthouse immediately to meet with lawyers. I was shell shocked — it was a total whirlwind of trying to figure out, Is this actually happening? At the same time, I was going through a lot of emotional difficulty in my personal life. I had suffered a miscarriage right around the same exact time.

I immediately thought, What does this mean for my staff? followed by, What does this mean for the brand?  At this time, I sat down with my father, who is the CEO of E2 Hospitality (By Chloe’s parent company at the time). He asked me if I wanted to sell By Chloe and move on. Without hesitation I said I couldn’t imagine walking away from the brand I love and the staff who helped make it what it is today, all of whom are depending on us for their livelihood and families. I remember saying, ‘I believe in what we’re doing, and it would kill me not to support the brand mission.’

When the lawsuit came out publicly, I had people on my personal Instagram making horrible comments and sending me threatening messages. They posted nasty comments asking me how I could live with myself, how I could do something like this and what’s wrong with me. The messages criticized my character, which is what hurt the most. Never in my life did I think I would be personally attacked; I never signed up to be in the public eye. It’s one thing if someone is saying, ‘My meal wasn’t amazing,’ but it’s very different when people who actually don’t know me or my character ask me, ‘How can you wake up in the morning and look yourself in the mirror?’

I allowed myself one day to be a total wreck — where I didn’t speak to anyone and cried my eyes out until I couldn’t see straight. The next day, I got dressed, puffy face and all, and shut it down. It was back to work. I had to refocus and think about what I had to do because I knew if I didn’t stand up for what I believed in, it wasn’t going to get done. When you run a business, you quickly realize you now hold the destiny of a lot of people’s lives in your hand — how they put food on their tables, pay for school and support their families.

Words can definitely hurt, but I kept telling myself that I was acting in the best interest of the brand and focused on keeping myself di


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