On Wednesday, Jan. 4, Lee hopped on Instagram Live to air out her frustrations against the “Straight Up” singer, revealing that she launched Kilt Frames years ago.
“It’s just really f—-d up. I worked so hard on this,” she said in video footage captured by The Shade Room. “Ya’ll seen me working on this. No, I didn’t have some big supporters. I didn’t do the commercial yet or whatever but we working. We working towards everything. We starting off small.”
The former VH1 star said she “had high hopes” for Kilt Frames to be one of a kind. Hence her confusion when she heard about reports about Abdul creating a line of audio sunglasses.
According to Venture Beats, Abdul’s line called “IdolEyes” was created in partnership with 1 of 1 Custom, a notable tech company that makes custom consumer audio gear. The rechargeable audio sunglasses come in five colors and will sell at a retail price of $249.
Meanwhile, Kilt Frames has only two designs available on their website, priced at $199 each. Lee alleges Abdul took the overall look of her brand, including its popular “cat-eye” design.
“That’s crazy. You took my…down to the look of my frames. Down to the cat-eye that I speak so highly on,” she exclaimed. “Y’all know how much I been pushing Kilt Frames. This is crazy, bro.”
The “Payback” rapper went on to characterize her dispute as part of a recurring struggle of Black creators seeing their ideas stolen. She insists she was the first to introduce a design for sunglasses that answers calls and connect to Bluetooth.
“I see this happen all the time to us, but I never thought for real for real that it would be me,” said the mother of two. “Nobody was thinking about that. Audio frames, who was thinking about that? Who was thinking about that design?”
The 38-year-old added, “I’m in disbelief, I’m shocked. I’m crying; I’m mad.”
She continued over the video, writing, “They sit back and watch the underdogs. And blatantly steal and promote it as their own with no effort.”
Fellow VH1 star Tiny Harris stepped into The Shade Room’s comments to share that she attempted to work with the same company on audio frames. She said once they informed her about Tommie’s design, she decided to go with another design.
“Well I was working with the same company with the audio frames & they told me about Tommie’s design & they were super cute but I went with another design of course cause that was her design she created for herself,” the Xscape singer explained. “However Paula and Tommie have a really different audience so I feel she will still do just as good anyway.”
It’s unclear exactly what company Harris is referring to. However, 1 of 1 Custom is a subsidiary of Famecast Media — the same tech company Lee called out in her continued rant on social media. The former reality star shared a series of videos on Instagram and Twitter including one that discussed working with the creator monetization platform. She claims she brought her audio sunglasses design to Famecast, who created it and allowed Abdul to market it as her own.
“I took my idea…I took my frames. I took my design, my cat-eye design to Famecast. They created it for me,” Lee shared in the first video. “They are audio Bluetooth frames. You can listen to your music. You can even make a phone call from your lens, from your frames. Created that, dropped it. They then went behind my back and made Paula now push it as her own and change the name of my frames.”
Lee said, “It’s bad business,” claiming her unique design was stolen and being marketed as someone else’s. She also claimed that she has a patent for the design, the lens, the shape, and the style of the cat-eye audio sunglasses.
The second clip is footage of her explaining the “classy” design, which allows others nearby to hear what you’re listening to by choice.
“Never am I going to get played like this theirs no amount of money you can pay me after doin shady business I could never trust them,” she tweeted. “This typa stuff is done to creators all the time and has now happened to me but I’ll see to it that I’m fully compensated for this injustice!!!”
Abdul has yet to respond to any of Tommie Lee’s allegations. However, her business partners and team have addressed her remarks in the comments of Lee’s Instagram post.
“On behalf of Famecast, we are shocked at your comments. Famecast has worked in good faith to support you, having invested tens of thousands of dollars in an effort to make your style a success,” the company wrote, in screenshots obtained from The Jasmine Brand.
“You are still the only person selling the style to which you refer that appears on kiltframes.com. Famecast has and will continue to honor our word in every regard. We are always available to discuss any concerns.”
JAG Entertainment, the public relations and celebrity booking company working to promote Abdul’s audio sunglasses, also acknowledged Lee’s statements.
The username, @jagentpr, wrote, “Your comment is outrageous. Paula has been a creative force in all realms for decades. This is simply another leap for her. She’s never heard of you, met you, seen or known of you.”
They continued, “After doing my due diligence, which you obviously did not, I learned that you indeed had a deal for a style of glasses of which you have sold 7 pairs. Certainly, no company in their right mind would expand that deal to other styles – which, by the way, Paula was instrumental in the design and development of the styles available under her banner of IdolEyes, a name she has trademarked.”
The company advised, “I suggest you cease and desist from accusing or maligning her in any way or you will be the one being sued.”
In 2016, Lee joined season five of “Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta” as a supporting cast member and as a main cast member in seasons six and seven. For most fans who follow Lee off the show, Kilt is the brand she has been promoting on Instagram for over six years. During a Hollywood Unlocked interview in August 2016, she talked about her time on “LHHATL” and her upcoming business ventures.
“I’m working on my eyewear, it’s called Kilt,” she mentioned at the 34:13 mark. “So I got my frames coming out and it’s called Kilt or whatever. I have like the Tommie guns on the arm where its gangsta so all the men can wear it to. I got that and then I have a flavored chardonnay coming out.”
She did not share the company she was working with nor did she mention they were audio sunglasses at the time. However, in November of that year, she posted a prototype design for Kilt Frames on social media. It featured measurements but no indication of added audio or Bluetooth technology.
The following month in December, an Instagram page called @thechattyblogger shared what appears to be a previously-retired video from Tommie’s account. It vaguely shows individuals working on different containers of sunglasses.
The caption read, “Special thanks to all my hardworking people in china making this #kilt thing happen. #Agada#kiltframes#2017.”