Taylor Swift, Jessica Simpson, and the battle to own your work

Taylor Swift performing "All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) [From the Vault]" on "Saturday Night Live."
Will Heath/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Women hit MBA enrollment records, Ghislaine Maxwell’s trial starts, and Taylor Swift and Jessica Simpson are taking control of their work—and names. Have a great Monday.

– Begin again. As I was browsing Instagram this weekend, a post from Jessica Simpson caught my eye. Captioning a selfie with her mom and business partner Tina Simpson, the singer wrote, “After three years of hearing ‘NO. IT’S IMPOSSIBLE. STAND DOWN. ITS TOO HARD …’ I am truly humbled to reclaim 100% ownership of MY name and my brand.”

Simpson was referring to the Jessica Simpson Collection, the apparel and shoe brand she launched more than 15 years ago, often cited as a billion-dollar fashion empire. For the past five-plus years, the label was majority-owned by Sequential Brands Group, which filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this year. As the business began selling off its brands, Simpson started the process of buying back the 62.5% of her name she didn’t own.

“It was a long journey getting to this point,” the entrepreneur wrote. “I was told no, that brand ownership was out of the question, that I was not relevant enough, and I would never have 100%. … We withstood the battle and today we CONFIDENTLY claim victory! The entire Jessica Simpson Collection belongs to us!”

Simpson announced her success with a fortuitous bit of timing. As Simpson bought back her own name, Taylor Swift on Friday released the re-recorded version of her album Red—the second effort in her project to re-record all her old albums with the parenthetical “Taylor’s Version” because she didn’t own the originals.

Appearing on Late Night With Seth Meyers, Swift explained what’s motivated her to revisit her musical past: simply, “I’ve always wanted to own my own music.”

Swift’s journey to reclaim ownership of her work has gotten much more attention than Simpson’s; Jessica Simpson Collection fans are passionate about her heels, but it’s hard to match the media firestorm of “All Too Well” or the enthusiasm of the Swifties. But in buying back her name, Simpson now has a head start on Swift in one way; with Red (Taylor’s Version), Swift is just two albums into her project to re-record her back catalogue.

For now, both women are staking a claim to their life’s work and their names—refusing to allow the typical power structures or the way it’s “always been done” to stand in their way.

Emma Hinchliffe

The Broadsheet, Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women, is coauthored by Kristen Bellstrom, Emma Hinchliffe, and Claire Zillman. Today’s edition was curated by Emma Hinchliffe


- Free Britney. In more pop star news, Britney Spears is officially free from her conservatorship. Judge Brenda Penny determined the legal arrangement that ceded control of Spears's life and finances to her father for years was "no longer needed." Spears said on social media afterward that the decision marked the "best day ever." NPR

- Back to school. Women's enrollment in MBA programs hit a record high this academic year. Women now make up 41% of incoming classes compared to 38.5% last year—with Forté Foundation CEO Elissa Sangster speculating the increase is due to Great Resignation participants leaving their jobs and heading back to school. Fortune

- On trial. The trial of Jeffrey Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell is starting more than a year after she was arrested. Maxwell is charged with sex trafficking and enticement of minors. Her defense team is expected to argue that Maxwell was herself a victim of Epstein's manipulation. Guardian

- Office politics. What are CEOs currently thinking about the future of the office? Upwork CEO Hayden Brown, Kate Spade CEO Liz Fraser, and office furniture maker MillerKnoll chief Andi Owen weigh in. New York Times

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Altavant Sciences Lyn Baranowski joins the board of Rani Therapeutics. 


- Stress test. If you started to lose your hair during the pandemic, you're not alone. Telogen effluvium is a type of hair loss caused by physical or emotional stress. To address the pandemic's "mass hair-loss event," companies sell nonmedical supplements and products—few of which have been proven to work. Women, however, are exchanging advice on forums like Reddit's r/FemaleHairLoss. The Atlantic

- Big move. Weeks after her wedding to Kei Komuro, now-former Japanese Princess Mako has moved to the U.S. The couple arrived in New York on Sunday, where they are planning to live after Mako gave up her royal status to marry a commoner. She has been reported to have been diagnosed with a kind of traumatic stress disorder from the years of negative public attention surrounding her engagement and marriage in Japan. CNN

- WW and wellness. WW, the company formerly known as Weight Watchers and led by CEO Mindy Grossman, is revamping its points system in its latest attempt to emphasize wellness over weight loss. Now users earn a bigger daily points budget through actions like drinking water and light exercise like walking the dog. WSJ


Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction erased an icon of unapologetic sexuality Vox

Without parental leave, I might be dead NYT

Lael Brainard’s Fed contention puts focus on inflation, jobs views Bloomberg


"What if there was another way? With education, awareness and empowerment, we can start to redefine the concept of marriage and the structure of relationships, along with many other social norms and practices."

-Malala Yousafzai, writing about how she changed her mind about marriage

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