Friday, 13 September 2013

The Shocking Truth About Handmade Copycats

When you are a creative person you invest a lot of your heart and soul into your work.  It's more than sticking some card together or sewing a garment. You agonise over every detail, the design, the materials, how you assemble it and how it is finished.  You are creating with your hands and your heart.

So, imagine if you will, if you see another business with the same creations as you. Apart from seeing red, how does that make you feel?

Got that?


Imagine that another business is accusing you of copying them ... After all your work, the late night tears,  how does this one make you feel?

Odds are, if you haven't already experienced either of these scenarios you might at some time in the future. You might even be lucky enough to experience both.

Removing  the heart wrenching emotion from the situation and just observing the facts, the shocking truth is neither of you are copycats.

In Australia, you cannot copyright an idea. While how that idea is expressed (screenplay, novel, drawing, diagram) is able to have a copyright the actual idea is not. So unless you are designing fabric and getting it printed and sewing a pattern that you designed from scratch you would have not much going for you should you go and accuse another creative of copying you. We all have access to the same patterns & designs, the same fabrics & supplies, and we can all lose many hours online in search on inspiration. While you might have been quicker about getting a finished product out there (but really were you first?) that doesn't mean that other maker hasn't been working on the same idea before you. Regardless of the specifics the hard reality is there are very few cases of true copy cats.

I see accusations of copycats all the time and I even get messaged directly about it. I have seen a range of emotions from people involved. I have been ashamed, disappointed and even surprised and encouraged.

The one thing that stands true is there are no winners, Should a business engage in a slanderous attack on another business with threats and mobbing tactics it just looks bad for that business. Sure there are some nut jobs out there that take delight in continuing and even escalating these bully behaviours but most spectators to the situation will move on and not give it another thought. The problem is it not only hurts the businesses involved but quite possibly the whole handmade community.

Let me tell you a tale of an online business who managed to get herself a lovely little copy cat. An actual one mind you, copying the look and feel of the brand and even using a logo that was similar to the business. 
This "cat" started to release similar products after each product release by the business. This business (while not happy and understandably hurt by the situation) did not accuse the other business of copying. She didn't even acknowledge her. After some time, the "cat" moved on to be more creative and develop her own design and style.

Try thinking of it this way, we are all using the same pool of patterns and designs. We all have access to the same materials. Creative inspiration can be hard if you are new to it all. Copy cats or imitators will soon move on and find their own groove and awesomeness and how great would it be if instead of jumping on them and bullying them that you befriended them and lifted them up? 

As a new business starting out you research what is successful and what people are buying, don't let an accusation of copying stop you from developing your own style and signature. It takes time to get an original look and not everybody is successful in achieving it. Keep to it, practice, develop and grow. Before you know it your style will be giving inspiration to the next line of new businesses.

More articles about Handmade Copycats:

The Zen of Handmade Copycats

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