I was flicking through my emails last night and got an email from a company I order stones and findings for my jewellery from. They had a "noteworthy jewellery designers to follow on instagram" blog that I spent a little while reading, following the designers on there. I'm all for women supporting women, small businesses supporting each other and shopping locally. I came across a brand with a name similar to mine and a few jewellery designs almost identical to mine. A brand a bit bigger than I, with more people behind the scenes and more people who made their pieces than just little me. When I searched the company's painfully similar name to mine into Insta search, nothing came up. Weird I thought, so I checked out the hashtag, yes those are their photos shown on that blog post... AH- a link.. *click* "painfully similar company name - No Posts Available"... A little odd I thought. So I logged into my personal instagram account and searched the company, and there it was. All photos in plain sight. They seem to have blocked Salt & Co. .... now that seems a little strange considering I have never heard of this company before... right? I thought so too.
So I spend a few minutes flicking through their instagram page, seeing their designs mimic those of Daniella Draper and other brands I know and love. Not one single original design, but certainly a few of mine.
Now when you're a little company, these things hit you a little harder. You don't have your huge success to turn to and feel secure about, you don't have colleagues to discuss your shock and hurt with and you don't have the financial backing to redesign your entire collection because somebody has copied it.
For the next eight hours I lay awake, staring into the half dark bedroom we are yet to put blinds in. Wondering what the hell am I going to do. After a while I start to think "you didn't know about them before, why are you letting it change things now?"
You see the funny thing is, if I'd found them that night on Instagram, I would have flicked through and thought "oh thats unoriginal" or "oh thats painfully close to what I do" and shrugged it off, maybes even given them a follow and supported them and their unoriginal business venture. But they tried to hide their copycatting from me, they blocked me to avoid being found. Who actually does that?
It hurt me, I felt cheated and stolen from. I don't think some brands have any idea how much work goes into a designers process. How much trail and error, how many photographs of buildings and the sand and shells one person can take, how many sketches on sketches and pages of notes and modifications one designer goes through to make just one design.
I feel completely deflated with designing these days. I see big companies and manufacturers mass producing things that were once original and became "on trend" and it costs them a tenth of the price it would cost us small designers (or even big ones) to make. But where does that leave us? Where does that leave the originals and the trend setters and the designers? It leaves us out of a job. Without a career and without the luxury of being able to work for ourselves on our own terms.
For me, it would mean leaving the place I call home to move into a big city like London to work for a big fish and pour my heart, soul and passion into another company, whilst watching them take all the profit from my hard work and my salary stay the same. Given, I would probably make a lot more money than I do now. But I am not motivated by money in this business, just passion and my love for creating things.
Its now the morning, I'm sat outside in my garden, feeling salty sea air whistling through my hair and drinking a cold green tea. I don't usually work on Sundays, its my only day off. But I needed a colleague today, and thats what this blog is slowly becoming. Somewhere to pour my heart and struggles into, to talk about materialistic things and to talk about very real things. I try not to get too controversial here. Sometimes I hope nobody even reads this, none the less, I need this space. I need to get it off my chest and return to being grateful, return to being me.
- Thank you for reading my little blog entry today. Please remember that when you shop through a small business, there is an actual person on the other end of that order doing a little happy dance and working their socks off to send you your order. We appreciate you as customers sooooo much and I am so grateful to each and every one of you for supporting my little business venture.
With love, Martha x