The audio of Jen Shah screaming at the designer leaked on Friday. Koa told Page Six that the episode occurred on November 6, 2020, five days before Season 1 of RHOSLC kicked off. Koa explained that he was given the task of designing the outfit for Shah’s post-premiere appearance on Watch What Happens Live.
“It was a very, very stressful time,” Koa said. “I wasn’t sleeping. I was not taking care of myself physically and mentally, but I was still operating on adrenaline.”
“It was like the most traumatizing months of my life,” the artist added.
He clarified that he did not know who leaked the audio, but was happy that the rant was recorded. Koa alleged that the incident was actually Shah’s fault, because she was behind the delays that caused the outfit to come together late.
“There was a delay on the fabric, which was on her part,” he claimed. “I was waiting for her to get all the money transferred over to the credit card for it to be purchased. That process even delayed it more.”
Koa explained that he was finally able to buy the fabric on November 9, but had just 17-20 hours to complete the two piece suit design.
The artist designed about a dozen looks for the reality star during their short time together, including the Biden/Harris dress and the gown she wore during the reunion series. He also designed Shah’s co-star, Heather Gay’s RHOSLC reunion look.
“I really felt like she was a sister and I was her brother kind of situation,” he said of Shah, adding that they share Polynesian descent. “We came from the same blood, the same race.”
Koa claimed that Shah did not compensate him for most of his work, alleging on Instagram that he was last paid “in September even though I continued working through January.”
“A lot of the reason why I continued working with her [despite] those circumstances [was] because I truly cared for her,” Koa told the outlet. “How we prove it to our siblings or to our sisters, our people that we look up to is that we do things because we show our love.”
Koa said that he quit working for Shah after the reunion series was taped, on January 11. He revealed that he decided to cut ties after Shah did not give him a mention during the post-season event.
“I’m watching everybody go around saying who they’re wearing,” he recalled. “Heather said me and then when it went to Jen Shah, I was expecting her to say the same thing and say my name and she didn’t and that hurt me.”
“That hurt me so much because it was the last dress that I was going to do for her for Season 1,” the designer added.
Koa added that he hoped that speaking out about his alleged experience would empower others in similar situations to do the same.
“I have to speak my truth and hope that if there’s anybody else that is working in a hostile work environment, that they will come out and speak out about it,” Koa said, adding that he wanted Shah to “take responsibility for her actions and behaviors.”
“I know that’s been a problem during her Season 1 is not taking any responsibility or whatever because I was there for the witness. I really do wish her the best of luck for Season 2 — she’s going to need it.”
The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City is on hiatus.