Friday, June 18, 2010

Creating one of a kind items???

Hello beautiful readers!
I have a quick question for you and am curious to what everyone thinks...

Back story: A comment (not directed at me) was posted on a friends facebook page inquiring about the drama and anger towards people creating similar items (whether for sale or just personal use wasn't clear so I can't speak on that).

So that brings me to ask the question: Do you think it's wrong for someone to create something similar to an item already being sold?? I of course think it is wrong to create an exact duplicate of someone's work. I also think brand new original creative ideas are best but after selling awhile you start to wonder if there really are any brand new and creative ideas. Even if they aren't sold on Etsy, they could be sold on a dozen other selling venues, craft fairs, etc...

There is no need for me to admit I sell similar items to other items being sold. I have never stolen someone's work but looking at photographers pictures especially on Flikr (thanks Ciara) I have definitely been inspired by items.

Is 1 person selling a particular item enough? Can 1 person reach every buyer in the world? Would that 1 person make it to everyone's liking, workmanship, colors, etc... Enter patterns.... does 1 person write patterns the way everyone likes them written?? I know I have bought a dozen patterns that I hated the way they were written, didn't make sense or my biggest pet peeve....having all of the sizes written together with the larger sizes in parenthesis such as
" ch 3, dc in next 2 (4, 6, 8)" 
Man I hate when patterns are written like that...BUT I am sure other people prefer it. So is it wrong to write a pattern for a baby cocoon when there are already a bunch for sale? Is it wrong for 10 people to sell sock monkey hat patterns?? opinion on this exact example. NO, because that 1st person surely didn't create the sock monkey and then decide selling it as a hat would be a great plan.

This is weighing on my right now. I am getting ready to release a frog hat pattern. There are a lot of other frog hats and even a few patterns for sale. Do I think mine is cuter? DUH ;) Mine has 3D eyes, and additional work to make it look much more boutique, complete, and cute. I make a bear hat, so do a dozen other people. I make a stocking cap, so do a dozen other people. I have had a lot of people request an owl hat. I have designed it in my mind and just need to put it in the yarn. A dozen other people make owl hats as well. Do people care if I make them as well? Well, people selling them probably do. I have stopped looking at how many of us sell similar items and just have to trust my shoppers will be happy with my patterns and will come back.

So what is your opinion???

Do I create these items or just let people shop elsewhere??  If I have people requesting them from me it must be for a reason right??


EEMedley said...

I'll be straight up and honest with you and I really hope it helps. When it comes to selling my things Ive created, I personally only use patterns in which 1) are free and say I can sell items 2) Ive purchased and they say I can sell my items even if it means mentioning the writer somehow 3) its something I "think" I created on my own.

Now when it comes to #1, people put patterns out on the web, you can't trust people, they are going to sell things even if you tell them no, thats your fault for making it "free" ;)

#2 is just my way of doing things, and I try my best to mention the pattern writer because they deserve it, and they asked.

#3) I know darn well there are a million baby beanies out there....I just have one I like...Im sure if I looked at 10 patterns I would find one thats the same, that is why I don't claim it as my own, cause someone else will fight its theirs, yatta yatta!

Lastly, I can say that I think it is GREAT and AMAZING when other crafters feed off good energy. We should be supporting each other instead of being jealous and rude. I honestly have a really hard time believing there is really a thing as an "original". How can you possibly know that you're the ORIGINAL creater??? unless its something wild ya know? Thats just how I feel about it. I've seen lots of Owls, bears, elf hats, beanies with flowers, beanies with fabric flowers, sock monkey hats, and diaper covers. Is that going to stop me from wanting to make them? No. It is going to stop people from being interested in them? No. I think it helps to search the web to see if there are anythings that look like yours before you put it out there, then you know your not a "copy cat".

I say do your thing! I bet there will be 10 people who make froggie hats when they see yours! Just try to think of it this way, you've inspired someone with talent like your own.

Lets be real, the world and web are really fair game, and people don't always listen, nor want to, or want to be real about things. People are always going to get cranky, or jealous, or dramatize situations :) I say do the very best to stay positive and keep good relationships with fellow crafters.

Thats my 2 cents haha :)

Bean said...

I have to say first of all, I'm new to the Etsy world...have only been selling for 2 months now! In those two months I've been "scared" of stepping on toes or crossing lines! I've tried to give credit to any pattern I've used along the way!

My opinion on this though is if someday I'm skimming across Etsy and see something similar to a creation of mine it will flatter me! My husband makes and sells custom knives and has created some unique sheathes for his knives. Recently he found a listing on the forum that was exactly like what he had created himself...he thinks it's pretty cool that someone liked what he was doing and tried it themselves! Does he think it takes sales away from him...maybe it does but he also has a following at this point and someone else copying his design isn't going to change it!

Jasmine said...

I think this will be a forever on going issue in which no matter what the answer others will agree or disagree with.
If you make a design its something you were inspired by something to make it added your own personal twist on it. On my page I sell items from free patterns, pattern's ive bought, etc....
You shouldn't hinder yourself from making something for your business just because someone else might have something similar if that was the case there wouldn't be as many stores as we have to shop from today. I have many of your patterns as well as from many other fellow artisans. If you make good things people will return to purchase them and other things from you. you just have to name credit when credit is due. if you are inspired by something someone else did say so. You should never hold back its all about making the customer happy if thats what YOUR customer wants then give it to them its not personal its business.

Keep the great patterns coming! :)

Monique Little said...

Scotti- Do your thing girl. I completely agree with what others have said. Are there really any true originals? It is not like any of the amazing creations we see on etsy are some super huge invention. I have never seen a pattern or crocheted hat that was patened. I think it is also great when crafters can feed off one another. I think we would be lying if we said that we have never looked at a picture and not been inspired to do something like it. There are always going to be people out there that will claim that they came up with the idea first, but honestly there are probably 5 people before them that came up with the idea before both of you. Lastly...everyone puts there own unique artistic spin on the pieces they make. Sorry for the long babble session. I for one am so excited to see and try the owl hat. It would be a great hat for a boy or girl and I can't wait to see what you come up with. :)

Erica said...

honestly i believe if you aren't copying their exact work then go for it! people need to get over themselves and quit trying to monopolize the market!! you always put a bit of yourself into each item regardless if its "similar". i am proud of you sissy :) craft on! xoxo

Marcella said...

i wouldn't like the idea of somebody buying something just to pick it apart to figure out how it was made [this is what happens with bows all the time]. but if you use something as your inspiration and figure out how to make it yourself, i don't see much wrong with it. i understand that people will be upset, but that's just the economic world and the competition. i have to say, i love the polka dot hat pattern you have, but just looking at it i think i could figure it out. i haven't made one to sell because i don't want to step on your toes, and if i ever do make one, i'll buy the pattern from you because that's where credit is due. it's all about ethics and using your head. there will always be people who intentionally copy something that is selling well just to make a buck. and then there are people who have morals and ethics about the things they sell and make. you're giving people opportunities to make money, and i doubt you've pulled apart a hat to figure out how to write a pattern for it. we all appreciate your patterns and know exactly where you're coming from. people who think you are doing them an injustice by writing a pattern for something that's inspired you, don't understand the business world very well. it isn't to take credit away from them, it's to give others an opportunity to make it for themselves a little cheaper.

Jamie said...

Personally, I buy patterns and find free patterns on the web, use them, and sell the finished products. I give credit when I'm asked to give credit for using a certain pattern, but I usually do my own thing with colors and accessories. I LOVE buttons, so I like to use buttons on whatever I make. Do I think it makes my stuff original if the only difference is a button? No. But as you and others have said, there is no "original" out there. I love how EEMedley said that we need to be supporting each other and not bad mouth and fight over who did it first. Aren't most of us stay at home moms trying to make a little extra money so that we can spoil our kiddos?

The only pet peeve of mine is when people try to purposely copy you and then lowball the price. But that's only happened to me once and it was someone I knew.

Do your thing! If you stop making cute stuff and putting patterns out there, I will be devastated! I like your style and this is where I go for fun ideas!

Brooke said...

As someone who is just starting out at making money with the things I produce, I am often worried about others thinking that I "stole" their work. In reality, it's really hard to come up with TRULY original work at this point in the game. I always put my own spin on things. If I see something I like or that one of my customers request, I will totally make that item - but in my own style. People ask me to make these because they trust my work.

As with you, Scotti - in regards to patterns. If I was wanting to make a frog beanie and had 3 or 4 different pattern shops to choose from, I'd choose yours because I know and trust your work.

It's near impossible to come up with a completely NEW and authentic product in this line of craft. I'd like to see someone try to take credit for an the creation of a single product because then it can probably be found that someone else was there before they were.

Rachel said...

I agree with alot of what others have said. There are many places to get inspiration and I am not gonna lie, sometimes it is from a fellow competitor. But give credit where credit is due and don't replicate. Create your own!

I think you are fabulous! I LOVE the way you write your patterns! I think figuring out and writing the pattern is an art in and of itself! No one it a FIRST TIME MAKER most of the time. In todays world, it has almost always been done before. If they were complaining because they are loosing business, then THEY need to do something about that. There must be something that others are going elsewhere for.

Being a crafter and having sold nursing covers and such (before they were so popular that you can practically buy them in the grocery store) it is all how you let it effect you.

and no, my two cents are over :)

Anonymous said...

As a seller, I always try to put my own spin on things, even if I am inspired by another person.
As a blogger, I am always flattered when someone sees one of my ideas and tries it. :)

I think it is wrong to copy someones exact product or pattern and sell it. However, I think creative minds sometimes think alike, and lots of us are going to come up with the same idea.
It's too bad that some people think they should have the corner on the market.

Thera Joyce said...

This is such a great question! I actually agonize about people thinking I've copied them. I NEVER do that. I hate copy cats, and I always try to hand draft my own purse patterns and what not. I get so stressed over it that I don't even like to troll the internet for "inspiration" like a lot of crafters do.

On the other hand, it's silly to believe that there are any truly original ideas out there (like someone above said, unless it's really wild). I also think that there are so many people in the world that even two sellers selling similar things couldn't even begin to meet the demand. I guess what I'm saying is that if your followers like your style of pattern and items they will ultimately buy from you. And I think that your style will show through when standing face to face with another similar item. If you followers are asking you to write patterns then I think you should. There is always going to be something similar out there, and trying to make sure you don't make something similar will just drive you nuts. Every idea gets reincarnated somehow.

Thera Joyce

A. Turner Designs said...

I agree with a lot of what was said already. It's so true. Look at all the clothing stores out there, they all sell what's "in style" they all copy the designs of the high fashion designers ..anything off the runway... anything a celebrity is seen wearing. And don't they ALL make it cheaper? Yep. If they didn't do that, most people wouldn't be able to afford it! I look at it this way, there are all different people out there, those who have a lot of money and those that don't, with all different styles, and preferences. Some people will love your stuff and some might love your competitor's stuff. It could come down to she added a button & I added a flower! I don't see anything wrong with making an item similar to another. I don't think that "ripping apart" a hat or item to literally copy it stitch for stitch is a good idea at all... but using a photo for inspiration and/or making a replica with your own "style" when a customer requests it (because they like your work) is perfectly fine.

Keep doing what you're doing & don't let it bother you. If we all let it get to us, there would never be anything "original" created because we would all be in fear of copying someone else's work! there are very few originals....someone...somewhere has done it. whether they have copyrighted it or written it or actually physically make it. It's all been done!

Rocky said...

Kinda funny to be a guy on here, but hay, I'm in the market (as it were). I have posted pictures (crumby pictures, because a cell phone is all I have for a camera) of my "sock-doll" inspired creations. And it has been suggested that I take the pictures off of Facebook before people steal the idea.

No. 1, I don't work off patterns, so if they can re-create it, more power to them.

No. 2, I would be flattered if someone liked my work enough to try to re-create it.

With that being said, I consider myself more of an Artist instead of a crafter. So, this is where the problem comes in. If someone re-creates my original work, and gets credit for it, I wouldn't be too happy. What I would like to know is is there a "poor man's copyright" that is legally binding? I don't think it's possible. How in the world could you know someone hasn't created something very similar to what you have?

My blog is if anyone is interested (sorry for the sameless plug). Look at my slideshow to see all of my creations.