Copy cats copy cats..
Its a tough world out there and in this day and age, nothing's original. And I thought I was okay with that. I was happy to be a part of social media platforms like Instagram & Pinterest, to share my work with others in the hope that it generates some sales. One thing I love about social media is how inspiring it can be. Up until recently I loved feeling inspired by other designers, networking and talking to them and hoping I inspired and influenced their work too. I felt like I was building a small community of artists and friends to discuss my small business struggles with, people I could relate to and talk to. The funny thing about running a small business is, it actually gets quite lonely. Theres no office banter or gossiping over your lunch break and chatting to your colleagues, its just me here (unless you count my dog).
I'm not writing a hate post, nor am I name calling. I'm going to make this little blog post about me and my little business. Because stuff like this just motivates me. I will concentrate on my successes, not your unoriginality.
Don't get me wrong, its okay to be inspired by others, to let them influence your work and your designs. I love hearing about what my fellow designers are loving, what materials / mediums they like working with, how they're styling their jewellery etc. and I admit that they influence my work and motivate me to continue creating my own designs & making my website / marketing a little better. But I always make things my own. Put my own spin on things, make them unique.
But how do you put your heart and soul into something, feel so proud of your work and want to share it with the world and your customers, when four days later somebody has gone and made or started stocking something almost exactly the same? Worse yet, at 3/4's of the price!!!
A while back, I read a fellow small business owner write something similar, and I knew how she felt. She was going through a similar thing - a copy cat 'designer' who saw what she was making / posting on social media and made the same thing and posted identical photos to her online. Thankfully, mine isn't quite to this extent. (Nobody would bother mimicking my terrible photography thankfully!) But it still frustrates me. So here I am, ranting about it on my little blog. (Yepp- I can't think of another thing to write about other than what my mind is stuck on: copycats. But its better to write the truth and be genuine about it than sit here and type about how great it is running a small business and what fashion trends I'm obsessing with, right?)
So how do you cope with a copycat? I'm not here to start an argument, I don't want to confront said person and call them out. I would love to stay being blissfully naive and pretending that it is simply 'coincidence' that they make a copycat of my latest design and post it on social media and try to recreate my brand in more ways than not.
So let me tell you about my brand, its not something you can recreate, its not something you can touch or ruin. Its mine. I am my brand.
I started this company at 12 years old (under a different name) and it was all I had. I had next to no friends, very little normality in my life and a deteriorating bill of health. I was getting more unwell by the day and more importantly, I was loosing hope. Loosing the will to live, even. I found a hobby in making jewellery. An escape in something I saw as art, and from that little glimmer of hope I built Salt & Co.
A small brand, dedicated to creating beautiful things in a beautiful place (Northumberland- thats you.) Inspired by the want to travel (wanderlust) , love, and (my favourite thing in the world) the ocean.
I suppose I'm most upset that somebody is copying my new designs. Had it been my older pieces, I would perhaps be less fussed. But this new collection, My ocean treasures, mean so much to me. They are my first designs that (to me) define me as a designer. I don't think until I had made these new pieces I would even call myself a jewellery designer. I probably wouldn't even tell most people what I did for a living. I am proud of what I'm creating, its unique and mine and I'm finally heading in the direction I dreamt of taking Salt & Co. so when somebody starts trying to mimic that, I do feel defensive.
This company is my baby, and it may be small but I'm putting my everything into growing it and I would like you to respect that and hope you can do the same thing. Go find your own unique selling point and create your own brand. I might even be one of your customers and support your own dream.
I hope this wasn't a negative or bitchy blog post. I might come back and add to it later, I just wanted somewhere to post my thoughts & feelings on whats happening on social media and it seemed a good place to let it all out and reflect.
In conclusion, shop with small businesses! We're just trying to make a living, like everybody else. But we're special, its just one or two people working hard, putting their passion and savings into something they love. Trying to build a business.