Monday, 29 August 2011

Imitation is not the greatest form of flattery

For a long time now I've been selling my deer, moose and bear stuffed pillows on Etsy.

Over the last few weeks I've been designing a range of pillow covers to complement these pillows and this is what I've come up with. 

I wanted them to have the vintage look of old t-shirts, lodge signs etc. 

I know that putting your work out there on the internet is opening yourself up to the likelihood of having your work copied.  As long as this is for private use I have no problem with it.  We are all inspired by others and by things we come across online.  One thing I love about blogging is the fact that so many of you give detailed tutorials on how you made something thereby giving others your permission to have a go themselves.  I have been inspired to 'copy' something myself many times.

The problem comes when something you spend many hours designing and perfecting is copied exactly by someone else who then offers it for sale on the same site you sell on.  A few months ago I came across a new Etsy seller who had made exact copies of a couple of my pillows.  I contacted her and politely pointed out that Etsy etiquette is that designs are not copied and asked her to remove her items or redesign them.  She did not respond to my message however did remove the items and has not relisted them, which is clearly an admission of guilt.  Sadly today I have noticed that she is selling these two pillows and another of my designs on two UK based websites plus designs which she has copied from another Etsy seller (which she has not listed on her Etsy site as she clearly realises that she shouldn't be doing this!).  My items are sold in shops throughout the UK and it's so annoying to be copied so blatantly.  I've now had to e-mail her again to ask her to remove them from this site or I'll take the matter further.  I hate being horrible to people and am really conscious that I must seem like a bitch but what else can I do?  I feel like I'm the bad guy here but basically I don't want my work copied exactly by someone else and the upshot is that I don't think it's fair for people to do this.

Whenever I think of something new that I want to print onto a pillow the first thing I do is carry out a search on Etsy to make sure no-one else has come up with it first.  There are a number of Etsy sellers who sell burlap pillows and we all have very distinctive and different items and styles.  So much so that I could now tell at a glance if a pillow has been made by My Adobe Cottage, Ramona Owen or Jolie Marche, all of whose designs I love.  We all use the same products for our pillows but we all have very different styles and very different items for sale.  It's really horrible seeing your own designs for sale in someone else's shop. 

Anyone else had any experience of this and have any advice to give?

It would be much appreciated.




  1. It seems like the selling site ought to address this. Don't they rules about this? If not, they should. Do you copyright your designs? That might provide another deterrent.

    I'm a new blogger. Please stop by and say hello.

  2. Sam, I'm so sorry to hear that someone is copying your work. It is frustrating to see someone trying to sell items that are based on someone else's hard work and effort, so I can only imagine how you must feel. Another blogger I know had her photography put on to cards by someone else and the person was selling them as her own. I agree with Marianne, perhaps you could contact the outlets who are selling her wares to let them know that they are copied items. I don't know what the rules in the UK are for copyright infringement and if you have some protection under the law from these sorts of things. Best of luck to you in resolving it, and you are not the one at fault here!

    Kat :)

  3. How very frustrating for you. Don't feel bad about getting angry, you are the one who has put the blood, sweat and tears into your designs. I suppose there is the chance that this person is just interested in making a buck and will move on to something else. I looked at your site last night you have some lovely new designs, I love the Christmas ones. Good luck sorting this out and keep up the good work. Much love, Linda x

  4. Hi Samantha, thankyou for your visit and your very encouraging words. I had a lovely party and enjoyed setting the scene. I have organised a few parties for customers, and enjoyed it. The good thing is that I do the work, set it up the day before and then I disappear. With my own parties, I actually don't like the dishing out of food, if I had some 'food fairies' to do that bit for me, I would be delighted. Much love Linda x

  5. I am so sorry this has happened to you.
    Yet, when their is so many creativity out there it is very likely you can find much similarity.
    That is why I believe in giving credit to where it came from and I believe it is better not to copy use it as inspiration though find your own style.
    Something we all have - style. Use different colors, buttons, ruffles, sizes, threads, ribbons and you have your own style.

    I do like "your" pillows a lot.

  6. Okay I read over my comment again and forgot to mention that, just giving credit does not make it your own. I just did a photo shoot for someones jewelry I did appreciate it a lot that she asked me if she could use them for her site and cards and such.
    I try to let go of it as soon as I sell it or give it away. There will always be someone who wants to be a cat. And that is too bad. It is about the condition of that persons heart, I just really hate it if it takes food of "your" table. And as a former comment stated. Most likely they will move on after a while to the next copy. Also if it helps any... the person copying does not have the 1st place most likely to the quality and such. Cause a copy is just a copy.


  7. Hello Sam,
    I have dealt with this issue sooooooo much in the 20+ years that I have been in this business. Here is what I have learned.....and this is THE HONEST TRUTH....all these people that copy, they never last. I am sitting here typing this and I am looking back on some major issues like you are having now and NONE of them are still in business. The reason? They don't have the TRUE, HONEST PASSION that it takes to actually make their business function and's toooooo much work for them. Sure it's easy to just copy someones design and put it out there...but then comes the HARD part when they get BORED and can't think of anything new , and then they have to handle bookwork and customer relations, and on and on. They just don't have it in them. AND, they also develope a reputation. Trust me on this, I've seen it happen time and time again.
    You did the right thing by contacting her.
    I know how frustrating it is (I am dealing with it myself right now)but hopefully you will see her fade into the sunset in no time flat.
    My best,
    P.S. Just found your blog this morning...luv it!


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