Friday, May 21, 2010

Ripoffs and Knockoffs

In the world of the crafty business woman competition is thick and sometimes even cut throat. With the help of blogs, etsy and fb I think the creative market has expanded like wild fire and sometimes becomes over saturated. In many ways it's a completely great thing but in other ways it can be frustrating and disheartening as an entrepreneur. I've vented in moments of frustration or anger to my husband and closest confidantes about how discouraging it is when others take advantage of someone's hard work, sweat and tears not to mention their creative ideas. I've been ripped off and knocked off by strangers and friends and I know of sweet and ingenious creative friends who have likewise been imitated. It really upsets me.

My question to you is how do you feel about this unspoken behavior that is so ever present in the craft world? As a customer do you have an opinion about this happening? Do you care if you have a ripoff or knockoff of somebody's product? As a business owner do you get frustrated or upset when it happens to you? Do you confront the offender? Do you turn the other cheek so to speak? As an offender do you see fairness in these actions? Is imitation really the best form of flattery or is it just a load of doodie that gives others permission to pretty much plagiarize.

I guess I am wondering if anyone else ever takes offense like I do. Am I completely selfish for thinking so? I think we are all guilty of "copying" in one way or another {special thanks to the rapid popularity of tutorials and DIY's} but at what point does it cross the line? Is it ok to copy something if it's just for yourself? If you change it up a bit does it then become your idea? Is it only wrong if you try to sell it and therefor become competition of the person you copy? I know these are all hush hush things that nobody talks about and especially never blogs about. Please don't stone me ! I just want to know if there are others who feel the same or if I just need to get over myself.

Your thoughts?

34 comments:

KK and Kids said...

I love your products-but, their is definately nothing wrong with others making similar products-whether it be for themselves or they choose to sell them! Look at all the stores out in the world that all sell similar products to each other-they are not doing anything wrong! It is okay to use other peoples ideas for crafts! It is kinda just a part of life! Though, it does suck!

Stephanie Rose said...

It's hard to say if anyone can "claim an idea". People all over have the same ideas - all the time. I am sure the first person to make shoes was not the first person to think of how they needed shoes. I have thought about this too. What would be considered copying? I found this blog post, through another. You might find it both interesting and enlightening.

http://michaeldemeng.blogspot.com/2010/04/artistic-timeline.html

living_dead_babe said...

Some people imitate others because buying it would be to easy and they would not feel the satisfactin of completing a project. As far as selling it and making a store out of it---Most of the stores on Etsy have diffrent versions of the same things.

The Oxford Family said...

First, I featured you on my blog yesterday and got so busy I forgot to email you first! Eek I know...very naughty of me. If you prefer me to take it down I can, just let me know.

Second, as an creator and business woman is it frustrating? yes, absolutely! Is there much we can do about it? not really. Like you said with tutorials being what they are it makes it nearly impossible to not figure out how to make something yourself. Your items are gorgeous, truly. I will admit that I have had making these headbands bookmarked for quite some time. Will mine be as lovely, no. You have great lace, beads, etc... Mine will do the trick for my daughter and I to have a project she wants to do this weekend.

I think there will always be imposters. I have people flat out convo me on etsy asking me how and what I used to make something. It's frustrating but for the most part beyond my control. I vent to close friends and family and try to let it go. Just remember most people that intend to make something for themselves never do, if they do they likely won't be nearly as gorgeous as yours.

mdmickey said...

Since I am just starting out I already know going into this that people are going to copy what I do and I am going to make something and someone is going to have something similar to it. I thought that was a given. And if a tutorial is posted people will copy it and sell it. Now the crazy things that I have seen at Etsy where people buy things just to post negative coments and sabotage people is ridiculous. What has the world come to?

Nena Nadine said...

on one side I think it's great to the complement, in the sense you made something so wonderful.

On the other side it's upsetting that you don't get the recognition. My husband made this beautiful drawing of a tree (look up 'tree of woe' in images, should be the first thing that pops up) He drew it for a bands cd cover art. It's even copy righted. That doesn't stop people from stealing it. We've found it twice on T-Shirts. First on a website. When we confronted him and asked for a free shirt. He said it was sold out and wouldn't be making anymore. Suspicious. Seconded time we actually saw it on a Khols T-shirt. We had no idea where to go for that one. Like I said the thing that hurts my husband isn't that he isn't getting any of the money they are making off of this. It's that no one knows that he did it.

Stacy said...

I agree with the other comments. I too try and make some things just for the fact of saying that I can and to save money. HONESTLY. I would never venture out and try to sell or make a business out of being crafty. I enjoy making something and having a finished project I can be proud of or give as a gift.
I use and love tutorials, but really only to better myself and I usually change or end up making something completely different than planned. It is just the know how of it all.
The stuff you make is amazing. I envy your ability to create. In the back of my mind would i love to try some, yeah, but they would never be what you create and I just don't have the initiative you do for making a business.
You are way more successful than any copycat could be. It is a compliment that people envy your ability to create... although I am sorry you feel the theft of ideas hard to handle. Just do what you do best, That is all that you can do then whoever copies you won't matter one bit.

House of Smith's said...

As a vinyl business owner myself... selling through a blog, as well, I KNOW this can be frustrating.
I've had a lot of practice "getting over it". lol.

I HAVE to say though, that you can't get bent out of shape about it, though.
90% of people ARE GOING TO COPY YOU.
Because they can!
If they don't have to pay the price, and can make it instead, they WILL.
I would too, to be really honest.

But THAT'S why you have to have STELLAR customer service, for your customers who DO purchase from you!
Which I'm sure you do already. :)

I also have to agree with one of the previous comments above. Blog world is SO incredibly saturated with EVERYTHING.
The other day I pointed out to my hubby how crazy it was, because a woman had posted a lamp redo, with the EXACT same fabric as me, and shade and lamp!
I started laughing, because obviously she hadn't seen mine, because it wasn't done yet! It is kinda creepy how people can think SO much alike.

No matter how unique we think, as business owners our product is... and that you're the only one who can do it "that specail way"..... sadly that's usually not the case.

I wouldn't let it get you down.
I would just keep moving forward.
What really matters to you? Calling someone out for making a product that looks like yours (because they liked it so much??)... or nurturing your growing business and doing the best with the clients that you already have?

If you're confident in your work, and are happy with your own success, that's all that matters! :)
Good luck with everything, your designs are always beautiful.

Shell

Nena Nadine said...

Huh. I just looked it up and it's not there any more. Tristan (the band leader) must of pulled it from everywhere. He was the one who copied righted it. And he was way more upset then my husband.

Kristina said...

I'm sure you can understand, as a crafter, and creator of beautiful things, that it's difficult not to want to try something that truly inspires you. Women are inspired by beauty (and your stuff is beautiful) to create. Does that mean it's okay for someone else to try to make a profit on your exact idea? No. My point is that it's not entirely a bad thing if someone else tries your ideas.

Here's something else I wanted to point out, you have a great blog. I have yet to purchase anything from you, but I love to follow your blog. Because of that, if and when I do decide to buy something like this, it'll be from you for sure. Of course we've never met, and you don't know me from Eve, but I like you. Keep doing what you're doing.

Tamara said...

I have very mixed feelings on this... I have had ideas stolen from me, and I chose to confront them, and they attempted to say it was their own version, even though their product & description was similar to mine, etc... I called her out on everything, and she eventually removed her item.

I myself have gotten ideas from others, and sometimes i make it for myself, and sometimes i don't even dare attempt it, and i will end up purchasing it.

I think it is okay to be inspired, but not to downright copy someone. If you add your own twist, have a different way of doing something, etc... it is okay with me. Also, I have seen amazing products that were outrageously priced because of the type of material -- if one can make it for less, why the heck not?

Again, to inspire = Awesome! To be copied = Not so awesome.

PeaceLoveApplesauce said...

Just try to remember: imitation is the biggest form of flattery.

Happy Friday! :)

Shannon said...

I think every idea comes from someone else idea, that comes from somewhere else. If I see something that I absolutely love but can't afford it and I can make it...then I do, but I don't dare sell anything that is a complete copy of someone else's. If someone likes your or someone else's product and wants to make and sell those then they should (in my opinion) at least change 50% of that product...if it can be changed.

I enjoy "stalking" your blog and love your style and ideas. I'm a huge fan of Anthropology and a lot of your products remind me of that style. While I can't afford Anthroplogy I can make some (a very small percentage :) ) things that resemble their style. While I absolutely LOVE you're skirt...I can't make that and can't afford it either so I will just dream about it.

You're very creative and fresh and hip....keep it up. Do it because you love it. Don't worry about what everyone else is doing with your talent.

Melanie said...

I have been in situations where someone else and myself will independently come up with the same idea, same product, etc. without knowing of the other first. Then it comes down to whose "thing" you like best! Today's trends are streamlined, like the rosettes. I thought it was a totally new concept when I first made some, and then I found a billion online that had already been done. Trends will be copied, altered, and personalized. If someone made headbands and called them "Tippy Cakes" and had "Vintage" lines, then WHOA, that would cross several lines! Overall, I think it is just making yourself more sell-able and aesthetic so people naturally go to you first. Win some, lose some, but don't fret. Those that love yours will buy yours.

Lolly Jane said...

oh dont get me started beck! having my own vinyl co for more than 3 yrs, i've been accused of copying as well as seeing my exact replicas out there to more than once having to email other bloggers to take my actual picture off their site. {hello miss lazy, it's one thing if you copy but another to take my pic then say "i can make this!"} at first i was way offended but like another commenter on here said, you really have to get over it.

take pride your product is darling enough to copy. you're everywhere right now girl! keep it comin cuz you are H-O-T!

another point: have you had clients say to you "can you make this?" and it's a pic of someone else's work? i get that A LOT and never thought much of it because i do re-create it for my client. but thinking it over now, how would my competitor feel about that? you know?

hang in there, your stuff is authentic and it ROCKS! xo

Mal said...

I completely agree! I think it is fine if maybe you want to try and make it for yourself, but to start selling is a whole different story. Also in the photography world... I am not a professional photographer or anything but I love it and hope to become one someday. But I feel like I would just be another one of those that thinks because they have a camera they can charge people to take their pictures. It is frustrating to see all the people that do this. Anyway, good post!

Shayce Nicole said...

Hello Miss Becki
You know how I feel about this girl!! When I first started Chateau Couture, it was my boards!! Did I come up with the idea of a memory board... no, I just simply took them to a whole new level. Did you come up with the idea of a headbands with flowers...no, but you have taken them to a whole new level and have created your own style. What people do not understand is that we are serious business owners and designers and our business contributes to supporting our families. When someone blatently copies and then sells that product they are infringing upon our business that affects our family.. it is seriously frustrating!!! I definately believe that if someone sees something that they truely want but cannot afford and are capable of making it themselves and are using it for their own use then go ahead and copy and make what will make you happy...that is flattery!! But when they take it and down right copy and start selling it... it is terribly wrong!! We are in a world where it is inevitable that somewhere somehow there will always be copycats and what I have learned with my business is that you have to constantly be on top of your game, constantly creating new designs, because that is what we are and what separates us from the little copycats of the world. We are designers and true artists that come up with the ideas, we are the trend setters, and that is what keeps us going. Becki as long as I have been in business, which has been 7 years now I have always had people copy me and I will admit, it hurts and burns, but I have never stopped what I am doing because I love it, i crave it and it has brought me where I am today with a whole line to offer. It will always hurt when you see your work oversaturated out there in the world, but I promise you it will hurt less and less as you gain confidence in your work and start shutting that part of the world out. It doesn't matter what other people are doing out there, what matters is you and what you create. You are designer and the world needs people like you. My wish to the world is that they would start looking at everything as inspiration and take what they see and put their own spin on it, or create something totally new from it and stop copying what they themselves did not create. When they copy, it is not artistry and they have no business doing what they are doing when they cannot come up with the idea themselves!!
Thank you for posting this, I myself have wanted to post something in this manner but could not figure out how to tastefully do it as you have!!

becki said...

Don't you just love a good topic? I was so happy to read all of these comments and get some perspective from all of you. I'm surprised with how much I agree with so many of your comments. It is a gray area to be sure and of course everyone has an opinion about it.

I'm so bad because I love using other peoples tutorials and trying stuff for myself like all of you have said. Especially when there are so many beautiful things to create or try. On the other hand I couldn't bare to give a tutorial for my stuff, they are my babies {I know, I'm totally selfish}. Can't I have my cake, and yours too? lol.

I know the reality is that people will copy and imitate and it really is a compliment. I don't mind that compared to the people who wan to purchase my product, dissect it, and then either start a business from it, make a tutorial for it or teach it in a class. Regardless of the fact that "that's just the way it is" Part of me has to say I think it's lame to do that to someone intentionally. AMEN, to the 50-50 idea. At least you are putting you in it and not just taking credit. OR at least give credit where it is warranted.

I do have many friends in the industry and it's a topic that always comes up. I think everyone I know who owns their own business has struggled with this in one form or another and I've hated seeing them upset and frustrated. I think it's fair to get offended or frustrated in these extreme cases but I LOOOOVED the comments that said not to fret. I mean really, what does it matter? You can't quit what you're doing because someone else wants to do it too. You don't do it so you can be the best or even the most original. You create because you love it and it makes you happy. So truthfully, if we let it bring us down then you're letting them take more than just an idea from you, You let them take the joy out of doing it.

When I first started whippy cake I was always looking for inspiration and ideas anywhere I could find. I didn't make stuff for me I made stuff that I thought people wanted. 3 years later I had the inspiration to make the very first whippy cake headband and then the glamour band was born. I still remember the exact moment i had the idea and what I was wearing and everything. I dropped what I was doing so I could make it. The very first one was perfect {to me} like we were destined to find each other {cue corny music}. Then the ideas came rushing in and it just CLICKED. I felt like after 3 years whippy cake finally had an identity, and I had a specialty. I LOVE it! I then decided never to intentionally look up other headbands and I still don't. I feel like abstaining from the "headband" world gives me the right to claim my ideas as my own and that's how I plan to keep it.

I love so many of the things you all have said I want to comment on all of them but 6 paragraphs is a bit much ;) Thank you so much for your insight. I hope this gives other readers reassurance as well. And I hope I didn't sound like a terrible person. You know me, I just like to bring up topics that ppl don't talk about.

I also REALLY appreciate all of the sweet comments you made about my products and blog. I am so happy you enjoy it. Thank you so much!

Candy and Cake said...

Agree completely with you, Whippy Cake!!!

Just had that same kind of experience today. A similiar blog as mine decided to copy a day I have and made it their own now. The idea was original and my own and was proud of that. It makes me so mad! What to do in that kind of situation? And why don't people have their own original ideas rather than copying?

Candace

Laurel said...

I'm a photographer, and I think Kevin Kubota put it best when he said "If you create in a vacuum, you'll suck." You didn't invent headbands, you didn't invent rolled roses; but you did put a beautiful personal spin on them. Without finding inspiration in, also known as "copying", others you would have nothing to sell. If we take ourselves too seriously we severely underestimate what we owe to those who inspired us to pick up a craft and personalize it.

becki said...

ok, this is the last comment from me. (maybe, no promises)

- I really do take my business serious which is probably why I care too much in the first place. When you sacrifice all of your time, energy and sleep for something it changes your perspective. Thanks Shayce, Loved your thoughts!

- people do ask me how to make my stuff and where I get my supplies... I'll neeeeever tell :) I mean, KFC didn't become a franchise by posting their recipe on the box. lol, Silly billy.

-I absolutely agree that most ideas are not original and I'm not under the false illusion that I have invented anything. I just think it would be nice if our own interpretations remained our own and not swiped and swapped like recipe cards and blog backgrounds.

-I'm glad I'm not a interior designer and that I don't sell vinyl, that realm is vicious!

The Morrill Mama said...

I'm not trying to stone you or be rude, and yes I'm hiding and not telling you my name, but you weren't the first person to think of fabric roses. The handmade world has exploded and you'll just have to be happy with people who are loyal to you. How do you know you're being copied? Someone could be as creative as you you know. I just think this was a selfish post. sorry.

OutBackByTheBarn said...

First, your stuff if beautiful. Really, very classy. But I do feel like you're being very selfish. You already know you're not the inventor of the things you make; I mean really pettiskirts have been around since the 20's. And lace flowers probably even earlier than that. And although you are creative and make beautiful pieces; you yourself are not any different than SO many of the shops I see on etsy. So I think it does come down to the customer service you offer. But I think you have really made a great name for yourself...so KEEP IT UP!

Jessica said...

As an entrepreneur, customer, and personal crafter of course it is frustrating.

As an entrepreneur it is irritating. You just have to make sure you have exceptional craftsmanship and customer service!

As a customer I WILL purchase things that I know I can make if I read/know about the person making them and want to help support THEIR business. OR if I know I just dont have time to do it myself. Sometimes it is much easier to just order it and be done. And fun when you get it in the mail too!

As a personal crafter sometimes I want the challenge of replicating/slightly changing an idea. I often browse etsy for ideas. If I make it and see it is a pain in the buns (like the pettiskirt) I would definately purchase if I needed another...But sometimes I just can't afford to pay someone else to make something. I know i can make it for much cheaper myself.

Keep you chin up and KNOW that the things you make are adorable and I'm sure they are excellent quality just from your presentation of the items.

Mrs. Blimes said...

First of all, you are brilliant and wonderfully talented!

Now, that being said I believe that everyone should share their creative genuis freely! I love the ability to just hop into your shop and purchase these adorable items but I'd also really love to see a tutorial on your blog every so often! Ya know? Share the skill!

:0)

Adam and Leticia said...

My mother and I just talked about this subject. My personal opinion~ It's ok to copy for yourself. I always look at an idea and think I could do that! But you still give credit where it's due. i.e. I saw something similar on whippy cake! That way it's kinda free advertising for you. (Not that I've done that.) But never as a friend or SIL do you take someone's idea and sell it, unless you have asked permission first. It's true that people have the same ideas all the time BUT be considerate!

*LaUrA* said...

Oh man is your stuff gorgeous. But to be honest when I happened upon your blog I had seen so many headbands that are similar...they are all over the place. Does it makes yours less beautiful? No. After seeing hundreds of others I still came to your blog and could appreciate your craftsmanship and skill.

The real reason I started following your blog? for the hair tutorials! I am so excited that you post these and give me ideas on how to deal with my bed head each morning.

I am of the thought that people are blessed with talents and skills so that they might benefit those around them. Ever heard of hide your light under a bushel...or something like that haha? Well...letting your light so shine (or talent be seen) so that others may benefit from it too, in the long run, is what it is all about. I think you will also find the benefits returned ten fold.

Last...sorry I am so long winded...my friend started selling headbands a while back and I LOVED them. I was her first customer. But to be honest...the price that I paid did not quite match the quality of materials. It was beautiful don't me wrong...but once I found the materials myself I realized that she really did make this headband for like 50 cents but sold it to me for 16.00. OUCH! I do not mind supporting her one bit and telling people how much I love her work...but when I can sit down and make 4-5 headbands that I love for only a couple of bucks...which do you think I am going to choose? It is a no brainer. To be realistic, my friend agrees that if you can make it you should...she is in the business of making them for people who can't or do not want to.

So I agree with everyone else. Brush it off. No big deal. We are ALL in the business of supporting ourselves and our family and we should all be comrades and support each other in whatever way we can. AND I also agree...give credit where credit is due! If someone copies one of your pieces they should link back to you so that others can benefit as well and know where the idea for the piece came from.

Keep creating! You are remarkable.

Blackeyedsue said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Juli said...

Becki....I love your stuff....and love your style....sure...given time i could probably make them and have a wide variety of colors and styles of the bands but the reason that i buy them from you is because of YOUR style....everyone has their own way of seeing the finished product...and i like yours!

So..today i am wearing proudly my glamor band...and tomorrow i will to...and when people stopme to tell me how beautiful it is... i will give them one of your business cards! thanks so much for your wonderful ART!

kanishk said...

I enjoy making something and having a finished project I can be proud of or give as a gift.
PPC Advertising India

skcoe said...

I really think it's flattering when people do something that they've seen me do. Sometimes it's better than I did, and a lot of the times it's an obvious knock-off, but we can't let ourselves get down when we see it happening.

As a scrap-booker I'm guilty of "scrap-lifting" ideas and embellishing on them. But the fine line is giving CREDIT where credit is due. I made an amazing set up for my daughter's birthday one year with felt crowns and banners and...well...a LOT went into it and most of it was original.

Months later my friend had a nearly identical party for her child and when people asked where she got her ideas she simply said "I just threw most of it together!"

Ouch.

She's also copied cards and headbands and it's just annoying when her daughter walks in with replicas and she never recognizes the sources of her inspiration. Oh well.

You've got a great blog and although many will try to copy your style, many will fail. You're very original!

Allison said...

Say no more. I get you 100%. It's happened to me for eleven years and almost on a weekly basis. I used to keep a list of names of the gals who used to be clients of mine, and then magically started and identical business, even going as far as soliciting my stores I have sold to for 9+ years!! Luckily, my stores have all been very loyal. It shocks me every single time!! Funny thing is, out of roughly 30-40 different names, only a couple of them are currently in business today. Call me a bitter Betty, it still hurts. It IS your baby and I feel exactly the same way. Flattery shmattery!! I sooooo get how you feel!! Btw, your things are dar and gorg!!

Destiny said...

So glad you talked about this!! Happens to me all the time not in blogland so much, but more in real life, with friends and even though every situation is unique, I try to look at it like this...
First I try to give them the benifet of the doubt..we all have very similar ideas, think the same, so maybe they thought of it too.

Second...if you for sure they copied you then they will have to live with it. I couldn't imagine living my life sucking up compliments on someones elses ideas....

Even though I like to think my talents are mine...and I would love to make a living using my talents full time, I know that God gave me these talents not for others to recognize my own work but to bring glory to his name. So whenever I feel like others are taking my ideas, I just try to remember the real goal and that is to reach others with are talents. So even thought my flesh wants to call them up and tell them about themselves!!! I know I can remain blamless and still very blessed because my reactions are like that of Christ:0)
I do believe there is a fine line between being inspired and copying someone else! And then selling it...hmmm...

Just keep on selling your beautiful headbands and let your character show through your business...they will keep coming back for more!!!

I'm just trying to figure out which one I want!

Sheyb said...

When I first started SheyB it really bothered me that I was copied. I started my business when there was only 1 other person that made what I made - and I found that out well after I started my business. Now... there are literally almost 100 people that I know of that sell camera strap covers.
I no longer find it upsetting that people copy me. Why waste your time focusing on who is copying you? It takes time away from your business to discover these things. Time you would likely spend better focusing on your business and making it better.
Being copied happens all the time. All the time. And not just in the handmade world. Dwelling on it isn't going to make it better, so I say to ignore the copiers, put a smile on your face, and push to make your business better than the rest.

Also... if people are copying your stuff that aren't business owners.. I would totally overlook that. Not everyone can afford some of the products being offered so they chose to make their own. That's ok. You're inspiring creativity! How awesome is that?