Over the last couple of months there has been an increasing number of posts on blogs, facebook, twitter etc about people having the craft work copied.
I believe quotes along the line of 'imitation is a kind of flattery' are lame however I'm not sure that sniping and veiled comments via social media are terribly flattering either.
Here is what I have learnt:
1. There is nothing new in craft. Okay, we all want to think we are God's Creative Gift to the world but in my experience all we add is a new spin, a different interpretation to all that has gone before. Many years ago I was taught to make some flowers from paper strips and pieces. An elderly mother of one of my clients showed me how to make them. We cut rags as part of vocational training and some of the fabric wasn't suitable so we started making tthe flowers out of fabric strips. Fast forward 25 years and somebody publishes a book on Fabric Jewellery using the same techniques. The author may very well believe that she invented the ideas however I continue make and sell these with a clear conscience.
2. Being aware of what your competition is doing is smart business. Focussing on what they are doing is not. While you are placing your energy in that direction you are not paying attention to your business.
3. The Copier is not going to stop doing it on the strength of your veiled comments.
4. Sniping and negativity adds nothing to your business, creative energies or reputation. You would be far better discussing the issue with the Copier privately.
5. If the Copier is stealing your Stockist then say a quiet Thank You. More than likely the Stockist isn't a good fit for you or your product. Stockist who don't appreciate & respect you and your work will probably end up sourcing a knockoff made from some poor half blind person sitting in the dirt somewhere in Asia. If you really feel that you have a point make directly to the Stockist. Ask them why they have chosen not to continue stocking your work, why have they chosen to buy from another. Maybe they don't undersand the ethics of handmade, maybe they are only interested in their bottom line. Either way the only way you are going to find out is to ask them. You learn nothing while venting on Facebook etc.
6.This last point is made to the couple of Craft Artist that I know personally who have recently been affected by this sort of Copying and have vented via FB, Blogs and Twitter. However I am sure that this holds true for the many others of you who are reading this. You are better than this. You have more class, creativity and style to indulge in these sorts of pointless comments toward people who lack the ethics to change their ways. Use it as a catalyst to develop to new creative lines and better business models.
Sometimes as Craft Artists we find oursleves believing that the business of craft is very different to other forms of business. Truly, its not. You will have all sorts of sucesses and knockbacks both creatively and financially. They will define you, only you decide whether it is a positive or negative experience.